The St. Pauls Area Chamber of Commerce welcomes Walter Graham Smith, who is a candidate for the North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture, as keynote speaker at its annual General Membership banquet, which is set for Friday evening.
Smith is a native of St. Pauls. He has a brother and sister, Judy and Steve Smith, and his parents are Graham and Shirley Smith. Walter grew up on the family farm in the Tolarsville Community, graduated from St. Pauls High School in 1972 and then attended North Carolina State University where he received a BS in Agricultural Engineering. Walter taught Vocational Agriculture at Bear Grass High School, in Martin County, before leaving the teaching field to work for the U.S. Department of Agriculture for over 32 years before retiring in December, 2011. While with the U.S. Dept of Agriculture, he administered federal agricultural programs and served the farmers of North Carolina.
Walter and his wife, Sherri, now live in Yadkinville. He currently owns and operates a poultry farm and serves on several agricultural boards. They have two grown sons who both live in North Carolina. Walter teaches Sunday School and is active in the community. While living in Boonville, he served on the town council and was elected Mayor. He was state president of USDA Farm Service Agency Employees Association and president of the North Carolina State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Alumni Board. In 2009 Walter was inducted into the Gamma Sigma Delta Society. This is an honor society that recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to agriculture. He represents the agricultural agencies on the Yadkin County Chamber of Commerce. Smith said that every other year the agricultural agencies and farmers in the county furnish a meal for the Chamber consisting of locally grown products. He feels that it is important to remind local businesses that agriculture is a business also and is in fact the largest industry in North Carolina.
Smith said it has been longtime dream to become the North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture. He stated he has been involved in agriculture his entire life, and that he has the experience and qualifications to provide the leadership and management needed to run the North Carolina Department of Agriculture.
He is a big fan of past Agriculture Commissioner Jim Graham. Smith said “Jim was one of the best Agricultural Commissioners in North Carolina’s history. Commissioner Graham grew up on a farm and taught Vocational Agriculture before being elected as Commissioner of Agriculture. He served three decades as Commissioner.” Smith said that he has the same good start. He grew up on a farm and taught Vocational Agriculture. Now he is hoping to win the election and follow in Jim’s footprints; and just for good measure Smith’s middle name is Graham.
Smith said that even though his home may be in Yadkin County, his heart is always in St Pauls.