How do you invigorate a 339-year-old commonwealth with new ideas? That's what Governor Tom Wolf had in mind when he created the William Penn Fellowship in 2016. Since then, we've seen some of the best and brightest minds join teams of engaged civil servants, bringing their unique perspective and working to address the challenges Pennsylvanians face every day.
Here at PDA, we've been lucky enough to work with Michael Roth, a native son of Pittsburgh who's already led a life of service. After acquiring his BA in Environmental Studies from Washington and Jefferson College and a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Pittsburgh, Mike ventured into service as an Americorps VISTA.
"My first few months with the Department of Agriculture were eye-opening. The Department is charged with dealing with everything from milk labeling to fireworks. My workload has reflected this great diversity of the department." In his time with the department, Mike's been focused on food security, climate change, hemp fiber, and One Health. "Although challenging, each of these topics has enabled me to utilize my past experiences and learn about new topics. One of the most interesting aspects of the work I have been doing is the strong interconnectedness that I have witnessed. For instance, climate change can impact zoonotic disease (One Health), reduce crop yields (Food Security), and provide new opportunities for agriculture (hemp fiber "carbon storage")."
If you've ever been lucky enough to stop by Mike's desk, you've gotten to enjoy his "Museum," featuring innovative, forward-thinking uses for agricultural products. That's the kind of passion Mike brings to his work.
"At the end of the day, the public looks to the government to fix the problems no other entity has the desire or ability to address. Although it is a large responsibility, dealing with these issues is incredibly rewarding. Agriculture has given me the ability to work on issues that affect residents of the Commonwealth every day."
If you're interested in becoming a William Penn Fellow and exploring your potential in government, visit their page to learn more.