A Fort Valley State University alumnus was recently appointed to oversee a federal agency with a billion-dollar budget.
Dr. Fred Harrison, alumnus and dean emeritus for Fort Valley State University's College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology, received the appointment of state executive director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Georgia Farm Service Agency (FSA). USDA Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack appointed Harrison to this position.
The FSA is a USDA agency responsible for overseeing various farm programs, and providing and servicing loans for farmers, ranchers and producers.
Harrison, a 1971 agriculture education alumnus, is responsible for overseeing a budget for federally funded programs in the state of Georgia that fund programs used to help Georgia's farmers and producers purchase land and equipment, and assist with agriculture operating costs.
"My ultimate goal is to make this unit an efficient, customer service, customer support USDA represented agency in the state," Harrison said. The state director said the FSA is important to agriculture in Georgia because it offers direct loans.
"It would be very difficult for farmers and producers, large and small in Georgia to operate without these loans," Harrison said. He said funding provided by the FSA contributes to the daily operations of agriculture throughout the state.
In acceptance of the state director role, the dean emeritus said he feels prepared because he provided 32 years of service to agriculture in Georgia.
"I think I know a little something about agriculture," he said laughing. Harrison, who retired from FVSU in 2004, served as dean of the College of Agriculture from 1998-2004. He also served as Extension administrator and director of FVSU's Cooperative Extension Program from 1983-2004. In addition to his service to FVSU, Harrison spent 10 years at the University of Georgia as Extension specialist for personnel and staff development and as assistant professor of Extension education. He also served on the Georgia FSA State Committee for the past four years.
Harrison said the time he spent in Extension helped him to develop relationships with previous state directors and other agriculture professionals throughout Georgia. He said the relationships built over the years have allowed him to understand the inner workings of the agency.
In reflection of his accomplishments, Harrison gives credit to his first alma mater. "Much of what I have been able to achieve is because of Fort Valley State," Harrison said. The state director recalls mentors and professors who challenged him to have integrity, work hard and pursue his passions.
Furthermore, he said the educational foundation laid by FVSU helped him to achieve his master's degree from the University of Georgia in 1972 and his doctorate from Ohio State University in 1979. Harrison said Fort Valley State helped him to develop a sense of ethics allowing him to exceed his expectations.
The 64-year-old father of two began his appointment as state director on June 2. When he is not working, he enjoys reading, playing golf or tending to one of his two farms.