Chandler Mulvaney sees a
bright future for food production
Chandler Mulvaney, a senior at Beauregard High School, is a youth leader and advocate of agriculture with promising visions.
"We have a big task at hand in that we have to create and process food, fiber and fuel for the needs of nine billion people and by 2050 our production will have to double," Chandler said. "We must stay consistent with investing in research and continue in our advocacy for agriculture. I may be an eternal optimist, but I think the future for ag is bright. Over 18 percent of Americans go to bed hungry. One in every five or six jobs is aligned to agriculture. Seemingly, ag and food production should be a good place to be over the next 50 years."
In voicing his passion for agriculture, Chandler referenced Walt Disney’s quote, "All of our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them."
"It is going to take hard work, but where would we be without agriculture," he stressed.
Chandler was a strong voice for agriculture at the 74th annual American Legion Alabama Boys State held in Tuscaloosa May 29-June 4.
Boys State is an honor in which young men from across the state with outstanding leadership skills, an excellent work ethic and commitment participate in a model state of government.
High school students learned about the everyday job of state officials by forming their own political parties, conducting house and senate elections, holding mock trials and working together to find solutions to issues facing city, county and state governments.
The program is beneficial in gaining a deeper understanding of the political process at the local and state levels, Chandler said.
"For me, it was a great forum to educate 700 plus boys about the importance of agriculture and the opportunities for further education and careers," Chandler continued.
Students enjoyed participating in community service and listening to some of the top speakers in the state.
"It was a once in a lifetime, memorable experience," he said. "I truly appreciate the opportunity to gain insight into the challenges and burdens within the political process, to hear some great motivational speakers and realize how one or two people can make a difference in the lives of others."
While representing Beauregard High School during the week-long program, Chandler was elected mayor of his Boys State city and State Commissioner of Agriculture and Allied Industries.
"The job of the commissioner is a big one in real life, so our platform included the importance of regulatory leadership, serving Alabamians safe food, sustaining agriculture, maintaining clean water supplies, promoting renewable energy with ag-produced biofuels, preserving our farmland, verifying weights/scales, controlling disease and pests, promoting agriculture literacy and advocacy, and preserving a bright future for agriculture," he remarked.
Chandler and his staff developed a vision to improve the state and created a "Ten Year Plan."
"I think this was one of the most challenging yet rewarding activities," he said.
Their "Ten Year Plan" emphasized the importance of ag education, called for the creation of more "Buy Fresh, Buy Local" initiatives and the support of existing ones, ensured incentives for family farms and young people to enter agricultural production and related careers, and detailed the action of working with the secretary of state and governor to increase worldwide relations in order to create and sustain job opportunities in the ag sector.
Other points of the plan included actions of maintaining science-based programs to improve research on alternatives for state resources, working with other agencies to phase in immigration laws so as not to harm or diminish the state’s agriculture labor force and ensuring funding of agriculture programming so the safety of our food supply is never compromised.
Chandler stressed the public should not take agriculture for granted.
"We have the safest, most wholesome and economical food supply in the world, but, if we don’t support it, our agriculture may go to other shores and we could lose it," he said.
Agriculture has always been an essential part of Chandler’s fiber.
"I just can’t remember not being involved in agriculture programs and it is just part of my family DNA," he said.
The third-generation Hereford breeder has been committed to 4-H since he was old enough to participate, and has been involved in livestock judging, forestry, beef cattle projects, demonstrations, public speaking and national conferences among other activities.
Raising and showing cattle became a shared sibling activity in his family after his sister, Katlin, a graduate of Auburn University whom he considers a role model, received her first Hereford from their grandfather in Missouri when she was around six or seven years old.
The brother and sister team attended their first Hereford Nationals in Tunica, MS, in 2004.
Chandler credits his sister for encouraging him in his activities, motivating him to work harder with the cattle and inspiring him with her own success.
Traveling to cattle shows and experiencing different areas has opened his eyes to how agriculture is not just limited to a person’s town or city.
"Everybody everywhere needs to know about agriculture and how it affects them," he said. "Its roots are so deep in America’s history. It’s really cool to experience, especially showing cattle."
Whether he is in the garden or working with a heifer, being outside is rewarding for him.
"It’s an enjoyable time when you can get out there and work with your animal project or just around the farm," he said. "It creates lasting responsibility¸ determination and a work ethic most people do not have in today’s society."
Baseball, singing at church and in choirs, and participating in FFA activities also keep Chandler busy.
He served as the State Council President in 2010-2011 and on the National Congress Leadership team for 4-H.
While serving on the leadership team, he spoke in front of 1,300 youth and introduced the keynote speakers.
Chandler has been involved in Club Red, a youth arm of the American Red Cross (ARC), and has served on the ARC Adult Board.
He is on the Board of Directors for the Alabama Junior Cattlemen’s Association and is also involved in the National Junior Hereford Association activities.
Chandler sings with the East Alabama Youth Chorale and is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
This year, he was honored to be a member of the Hugh O’ Brian Youth Leadership Conference Alumni Staff, one of the nation’s top youth leadership development organizations.
"Even though I do a lot, I try to ultimately do the best I can and always try to work with the heifer and try to do the best I can in baseball and 4-H, and make sure I leave a strong legacy," Chandler said.
Other recent honors he has earned include being selected a 2011 WXTX Teens to Watch nominee, member of Emory University’s Economics for Leaders program, member of the 2011 National Society of High School Scholars, 2011 Outstanding High School Student of America, 2011 Who’s Who Among High School Students and member of the National 4-H Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.
His recent athletic honors include playing on the 2011 Beauregard High School Varsity baseball team and leading in hitting, being selected for the 2011 Chattahoochee Valley Baseball Academy Showcase team, earning the honor of 2011 Perfect Game Player, being selected as a Sate East-West 2011 All-Star and receiving All Area-Honorable Mention.
Chandler lives by a motto he found in an article in a Hereford World article shared by a longtime Hereford breeder years ago, "If you don’t have the commitment to do something, then you might as well not be doing it."
He credits his father Dr. Donald Mulvaney, Associate Professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at Auburn University, for taking him to knowledge bowls, sharing his knowledge of cattle and teaching him the right and wrongs of leadership.
Chandler is also thankful for the help of his mother, Janet, in preparing for all of his events.
Chandler discussed his future goals.
"I hope the Lord gives me a chance to play baseball at a Division I university while I work on a degree in agriculture communication or area of business studies," he said.
Jade Currid is a freelance writer from Auburn.