Perspectives Online

Tribute to Jesse Helms benefits internships for agriculture students


Charter Helms intern Justin Lowe (left) meets the senator.
Photo by Daniel Kim

A spring tribute to former U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms raised $242,000 to fund the recently established Senator Jesse Helms Agricultural Legislative Internship Endowment at N.C. State University. Held April 9 at the North Raleigh Hilton, the tribute was organized by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Jesse Helms Center Foundation.

Honorary co-chairs of the tribute included U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr and former U.S. Sens. James Broyhill, Lauch Faircloth and Robert Morgan; also North Carolina Gov. Michael F. Easley and former Govs. James B. Hunt Jr., James E. Holshouser Jr., James G. Martin and Robert W. Scott. Retired Army Gen. H. Hugh Shelton also served as an honorary co-chair with state Senate President Pro Tempore Marc Basnight, state House Speaker Jim Black, North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Steve Troxler and former North Carolina Secretary of State Rufus L. Edmisten.

Other honorary co-chairs were Jeanette Hyde, a prominent Raleigh businesswoman and former ambassador to seven Caribbean countries; Graham Boyd, executive vice president of the Tobacco Growers Association of North Carolina; Frank Grainger, a Cary businessman and member of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors; and Larry B. Wooten, president of the North Carolina Farm Bureau.

After dinner, Helms heard tributes from Faircloth, Hyde and Wooten. Also appearing was the charter Helms legislative intern, Justin Lowe, an N.C. State junior in agricultural education from Liberty.

"You honor us with your presence," said Helms, who attended with his wife, Dot. "You have wound my clock. I'm overwhelmed."

The Helms Agricultural Legislative Internship Endowment was created by North Carolina agricultural leaders as a way to honor Helms, said Keith Oakley, executive director for College advancement.

The endowment will fund internships in Washington, D.C., for students enrolled in traditional agricultural programs at N.C. State or N.C. A&T State University. The program is designed to introduce agricultural students to public policy issues.

- Dave Caldwell