Sonny Perdue, U.S. secretary of agriculture, will be the next speaker in Kansas State University’s Landon Lecture Series. Secretary Perdue’s speech, “Leave It Better Than You Found It: Lessons in Public Service I Learned on the Farm,” will be at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 1, in McCain Auditorium.
The lecture is free and the public is invited. Please note that for security purposes, no backpacks and large personal bags will be allowed in the auditorium. A bag check will be available in the McCain foyer.
“As a leader in global food systems research, Kansas State University welcomes the opportunity to bring the nation’s top agriculture official to campus,” said Linda Cook, chair of the Landon Lecture Series and the university’s chief of staff and director of community relations. “Secretary Perdue joins a long list of secretaries of agriculture who have participated in the Landon Lecture Series and shared their vision on issues facing an industry that is vital to this university, Kansas, the nation and the world.”
The secretary’s life was shaped and fashioned growing up on his family’s farm. His lecture will focus on the lessons that he learned from family, school, church, sports and caring for the land and animals that formed a foundation of serving others. He has applied the lessons he learned while growing up on the farm to transform the culture of public service to focus on serving the citizens.
Nominated by President Trump, Perdue has been serving as the nation’s 31st secretary of agriculture since April 25, 2017, and brings a strong background in agriculture, public service and agribusiness to the post. He grew up on a dairy and diversified row crop farm in rural Georgia. As a young man, he served in the U.S. Air Force, rising to the rank of captain. After his military service, he went on to earn his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Georgia and worked in private practice in North Carolina.
Perdue pursued a political career next and served as a Georgia state senator for 11 years. He also was elected president pro tempore by his senate colleagues. As a state senator, he was recognized as a leading authority on issues including energy and utilities, agriculture, transportation, emerging technologies and economic development, and for his ability to grasp the nuances of complex problems.
Elected to two terms as governor of Georgia, from 2003-2011, Perdue was credited with transforming a budget deficit into a surplus, dramatically increasing student performance in public schools, and fostering an economic environment that allowed employers to flourish and manufacturers and agricultural producers to achieve record levels of exports. He was named Public Official of the Year in 2010 by Governing magazine.
The secretary followed his public service with a successful career in agribusiness, focusing on commodities and transportation in enterprises that have spanned the southeastern U.S. He also has served as a board member for the National Grain & Feed Association and as president of both the Georgia Feed and Grain Association and the Southeastern Feed and Grain Association. Perdue has long-standing, close relationships with the leadership of the American Farm Bureau and has been recognized by the Georgia 4-H and FFA programs, among others, for his leadership in agriculture.
One of the most prestigious lecture series offered at a U.S. college or university, the Alfred M. Landon Lecture Series was instituted in 1966 by former Kansas State University President James A. McCain. The series is a tribute to Alfred M. Landon, who served as governor of Kansas from 1933-1937 and delivered the first lecture in the series, “New Challenges in International Relations,” on Dec. 13, 1966. Perdue will be the 179th speaker and 11th secretary of agriculture to take part in the lecture series.