For 30 years, Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services have recognized outstanding women who played a critical role in the history and success of agriculture in the state. This year’s recipient, Belinda G. Chason, has not only made significant contributions to agriculture, she has worked faithfully to grow Florida’s next generation of agricultural leaders as well.
It is important for our next generation to understand the critical role of agriculture in Florida, across our nation, and around the world. Here in Florida, agriculture provides more than 2 million jobs, contributes more than $100 billion to the economy, and produces a bounty of 300 commodities. The long-term sustainability of Florida agriculture depends on our youth. We must invest in strong agriscience education and activities to engage today’s youth who can serve as tomorrow’s leaders.
During her more than 40-year career with the Florida Department of Education, Belinda fought to improve the standing and quality of agriscience education taught in Florida’s schools. By working directly with the agriculture industry to improve and strengthen the state’s agriscience curriculum, she effectively narrowed the knowledge and experience gap between the classroom and agricultural operations. As a result of her efforts, thousands of students gained a better understanding of agriculture and were inspired to pursue careers in the field.
Beyond her tireless efforts to involve younger generations in agriculture, Belinda broke the glass ceiling in many statewide agriculture organizations. She was the first female executive director of the Florida FFA, the first female to serve on the National FFA Board of Directors, the first female state supervisor of agricultural education, and the first female state FFA advisor.
On behalf of the Department, the agriculture community, and all the young lives she influenced, I want to thank Belinda for her years of dedicated service and contributions to agriculture.