Our lives have changed, which means changes are required. I think it would behoove West Virginia to self-examine what we have learned by this current crisis. Obviously it has exposed our weaknesses and our lack of readiness. Without a doubt we can all say West Virginia knows how to react to any natural disasters, because we have seen our share of life altering disasters in the past 100 years. Sadly we have had to endure devastating floods, and yet we still managed to feed our children. We have experienced wind storms which knocked out power for an entire summer, but yet we still kept our businesses open.

That being said, one glaring aspect of the COVID19 outbreak is how it almost shut down an entire education system overnight. While our teachers, service personnel, and administrators have done a stellar job of teaching our children throughout this crisis, it has, as I had posted two weeks ago exposed a profound the inadequacy of our broadband connection throughout the state. 27% of students either can’t afford internet in their homes or don’t have access. Does this mean our children are not being taught? Absolutely not. I know for a fact teachers are calling contacting students each day and walking each child through their Arctic Day assignments where needed, spending hours to ensure all education is delivered equally.

Reflection is needed, a post crisis steering committee needs to be established to identify the problems and future solutions. Rural development; fresh water access, internet are desperately needed. As your next Commissioner of Agriculture I think it would benefit the State to work with the next Governor and Legislature to ensure all rural development funding opportunities are utilized. Education, Economic Development, and Agriculture go hand in, it is time we make sure all have the tools needed to succeed.

Let’s grow West Virginia together.