From Washington, DC; Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Written by Kyle Scheaffer, Dana Wiegand and Kimberly Meier – Presiding Fellows
Greetings from a soggy Washington DC. An early start to our Tuesday took us on the Metro once again. For being in town only a short time, we are fairly proficient at navigating the rails. Dr. Alison Goss Eng welcomed us for our morning at the Department of Energy. Agatha Wein gave us a brief overview of the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) division. Hydro and Wind Energy was presented by Bret Barker, who discussed the vast opportunities for both forms of alternative energy in the state of Illinois. A map showing the great potential for hydro power was covered in dots all along Illinois’ western border, naturally lining up with the Mississippi River. Olayinka “Yinka” Ogunsola of the Office of Fossil Energy spoke to us about Natural Gas mining processes, both conventional wells and non-conventional (fracking) wells. Bioenergy was the session topic with Kristen Johnson. She spoke on the potential for biomass energy and how growing the seed stock for biomass energy processors would fit into an evolving agricultural landscape. John Latinski enlightened us on carbon capture and storage, using the ADM plant in Decatur, IL as an example of a plant that is currently incorporating carbon capture and storage.
A quick walk in light rain, Metro trip and short cab ride took us to the Farm Credit Administration offices in McLean, VA. Dr. Steven Goldsmith, DVM, with the WMD Directorate of the Biological Counter Measures Unit of the FBI, joined us there for a fascinating presentation on agricultural terrorism with his Agroterrorism Threat Briefing. His division deals with the production period of livestock and crops before the processing plants. He spoke on diseases, noxious weeds as well as other possible threats and what measures are in place to deal with them. We concluded our afternoon at the Farm Credit Administration with two Illinoisans. Lee Strom (IALP 1988), Board Member and immediate past Chairman of the Board and Mike Stokke, Director of the Office of Congressional and Public Affairs spoke to us about ‘Who Farm Credit is, What Farm Credit does, and Who makes up the Farm Credit System.’ Lee also shared some insight on leadership and told us to “be selective” and to “dedicate ourselves to what we believe in.”
Rain while we traversed the city seemed to be the theme of the day; we were met with rain leaving Farm Credit for our hotel. A large number of the class members traveled to Quarterdeck Restaurant in Arlington for a great time feasting on Maryland Blue Crab and getting know each other better. It may be raining but we refuse to let it dampen our spirits nor our enthusiasm for the rest of our time here.