For more than 54 years, Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Thomas T. Irvin has dedicated his life to public service, but Wednesday afternoon, the tables were turned when Irvin had a cabin dedicated to him at the FHA/FCCLA Center.
Irvin is the longest serving statewide official in Georgia and has served as the agriculture commissioner longer than anyone else in the United States. He began in 1969 and was elected in 2006 to a 10th four-year term. Irvin has announced that he will not run for the position again.
But Irvin was elected to the Habersham County Board of Education in 1956, serving as chairman of the board and president of the Georgia School Boards Association. He is also nationally recognized for his service as a leader in agriculture."Throughout his career Mr. Irvin has always maintained an open-door policy for the youth leaders of the FFA and FCCLA organizations," reads his biography. "He has always been willing to share his insight and wisdom that have helped them to become better leaders and citizens of our state." This was evident Wednesday as dozens of FCCLA and FFA were present at the dedication.
"This is a great day for the Newton County FFA/FCCLA Center and a day that we will all remember for a long time," said Todd Teasley, director of the center. "I thank you for what you do and what you have done for this camp. It is our honor and privilege to name one of our cabins after you," said Teasley. "Your legacy is amazing."
The cabin itself is essentially two cabins under one roof, according to Teasley, and will be able to house male and female campers under one roof while still keeping them separate. The cabin is designed to last at least 50 years and was paid for, in part, by a $250,000 donation from the Georgia Development Authority.
"This cabin would have never happened without it," said Teasley of the donation. "They believe in the FFA and they put their money where their mouth is."
"You don’t know how proud this makes me," said Irvin, speaking to the assembled crowd. "When I became a member of the Georgia Development Authority, we didn’t have any money, any credit or anything at all," he said. "Today we have $52 million in assets. I want to thank that board. Some are new members, some are old members, but no one has been on there as long as I have.
"Thank you for all that you do for the state of Georgia," Irvin said to the crowd, "and my God bless you all."