At Ag Day at the Capitol earlier this week, Farm Director KC Sheperd caught up with Lieutenant Governor Matt Pinnell and talked about the My Plate Initiative and different tourism options within the state.
The My Plate Initiative helps educate kids on how to eat healthy foods, Pinnell said, and promotes the products grown and raised in Oklahoma. It is another way for kids around the state to not only eat healthier, Pinnell added, but also learn about the food that is grown in the state.
“It combines two passions that we have at the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Tourism,” Pinnell said. “As much as we are talking about agritourism today, let’s talk about that industry, while, at the same time, trying to make sure kids are living healthy lifestyles inside the state.”
It is critical to develop healthy habits early on, Pinnell said, because it is harder to establish those habits as kids grow older.
“It will pay off big-time when they are older, and when they are living, working and playing and raising a family here in Oklahoma,” Pinnell said.
Pinnell also talked about Route 66 in the state.
“It is really prime time for Route 66 in Oklahoma,” Pinnell said. “The amount of money that we are going to be investing in that road helping revitalize main streets in rural Oklahoma over the next four years really will be an unprecedented investment because of the Route 66 Commission Fund that we created last session. That is 6.6 million dollars that is going to be deposited pretty much every year for the next at least four years, so you are talking over 20 million dollars. That is real money anywhere.”
Oklahoma has 400 drivable miles of the most famous road in the entire world, Pinnell said, so investing in Route 66 will be helpful to many small towns. Aside from what Oklahoma’s Route 66 has to offer, Pinnell also talked about the amazing agritourism opportunities in the state.
“Farmers markets today- you could put five in every town and wouldn’t have enough,” Pinnell said.
Oklahoma’s craft beer trail, wineries, farms, and ranches are just a few of the agritourism opportunities Pinnell said are offered within the state year-round. The attraction to Oklahoma doesn’t stop with agritourism, Pinnell said, as the state has also become popular for filming.
“We have 12 different ecosystems inside the state of Oklahoma, so you can film any type of movie in Oklahoma with the outdoor landscapes that we have,” Pinnell said.
Over 50 million dollars over the last few years has been spent upgrading Oklahoma’s state parks, Pinnell said, from lodging to trails.
“Those state parks are a great tool to invite people to the state of Oklahoma that have never been here,” Pinnell said.