Laura James began her journey as an advocate for agriculture when she joined her local 4-H club in third grade. As a Junior 4-H member, she became highly competitive in public speaking contests. Through these contests, she began to find her deep-seated passion for educating consumers about the agricultural industry. Her passion grew through her years of being in the show ring along with being an active member of 4-H.
When she transitioned into a Senior 4-H member, she decided to apply to the Texas 4-H Livestock Ambassador Program. Once Laura was accepted to the West Texas A&M Short Course, she travelled to Canyon, Texas, where she was immersed in a four-day hands-on experience. From beef carcass fabrication to a reproductive system dissection, Laura gained a vast amount of industry knowledge from leading professionals.
Specifically, Laura found the lecture about Dr. Norman Borlaug to be the most memorable as it inspired her to take the skills she had obtained to make a difference in our industry. In true Laura fashion, she conducted research to find ways that we, as producers, can help address the high prevalence of agricultural illiteracy in our nation. She was quickly intrigued when she found that Georgia had recently passed a law regarding the development of agricultural education programs in primary schools.
After speaking with the coordinator of Georgia’s agriculture education program, Laura discovered that the passing of the law began with two high school students reaching out to their government representatives to voice their concern on the lack of agriculture in schools. Modeling after the Georgia students, Laura sent over seventy different emails to our elected Texas officials to address her concern of the agricultural illiteracy in Texas students. She patiently waited for responses to only receive one from a Senator, who took interest in her concern.
Laura and Senator Kolkhorst kept in contact throughout the Fall of 2020 while Kolkhorst worked on the development of legislation. The goal is to advance the bill out of the House then work with Governor Abbott to advance the bill into law. Laura plans to utilize various social platforms to help advocate for the bill and inform her audiences on the pertinence of adding agriculture education programs to schools. She not only wants to make an impact in Texas, but also hopes to inspire other high school students across the nation to take the same actions in their states.