The most successful university ag alumni group in the United State bar none will hold its annual meeting as part of the 2011 Purdue Agricultural Alumni Fish Fry. Reserve Saturday, Feb. 5 on your calendar and make plans to attend. And pray for better weather than what graced thee vent last year. Even so, a healthy crowd attended to devour fish and hear from two Purdue food scientists, talking about their World Food Prize awards.
This year you will get to hear from Dan Glickman, former USDA Secretary of Agriculture. Get insights form someone who knows the ins and outs of the agency as it was operated in the past. Many believe it's an agency in transition, catering more to smaller farmers who want to get involved in a niche operation. The most operative words from the current USDA seem to be sustainable and locally-grown. Perhaps Glickman can shed insight on how USDA would wind up supporting such causes.
Glickman served as a Democrat Congressman from Kansas, and was named USDA Ag Secretary by President Bill Clinton. He served in that post from 1995 until 2001. Speakers at last year's fish fry event included the two most recent world food prize winners form Purdue University.
The Purdue Ag Alumni meetings have been famous, notorious and well-attended all at the same time since the 1950's. The organization has had only two executive directors in the past 60 years - Mauri Williamson, from Economy, Ind., who built the ag alumni groups on the reputation of a raucous, no-holds barred for humor –type fish fry, and Donya Lester, who replaced him after he retired nearly 30 years ago.
Some thought his shoes might be too big to fill, but Lester has done an excellent job of picking up where Williamson left off, moving Purdue ag alumni into the twenty-first century, just as agriculture has changed. The spunky one from Georgia married an Indiana farmer after coming to Indiana and is a devoted farmwife as well as leader of Purdue Ag Alumni.
Lester notes that they've tamed the raucous activities down a bit, and tried to bring a bit of professionalism to the fish fry, just as agriculture has become more sophisticated. She moved it from the Armory at Purdue to the Indiana State Fairgrounds. The staff still serves the meal and does the cooking. This year's meal will feature yellow perch, grown in Indiana. The Indiana Soybean Alliance will sponsor the cost of the fish for the event.
Tickers are $20 each and must be purchased in advance. Learn more and order tickets at: www.ag.purdue.edu/agalumni/Pages/2011fishfry.aspx.