Editor’s note: This week we are continuing a feature called Q&A. Through this feature we hope to help you get to know your neighbors, government officials and others in the community. Today we feature Harriet Cannon, a Covington resident who has been the area director of the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development for 10 years and has worked for the USDA for 30.
Family: Married to Lenard for almost 20 years; one daughter, Caroline, an 18-year-old freshman at UT-Martin, and one son, Jon Michael, a 16-year-old junior at Covington High School
Education: Friendship (Tenn.) High School, Class of 1978; B.S. in Agriculture from UT Martin (1982)
Vehicle: 2010 Toyota Camry
Favorite music: contemporary Christian
Favorite beverage: unsweet tea
Favorite food: Mexican
Favorite movie: "Sweet Home Alabama"
Favorite TV show: "NCIS"
Q: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: A florist or funeral director. My grandmother owned a flower shop so that was always my job growing up. Her florist was next door to the funeral home in Friendship. She always wanted me to take it over when she retired!
Q: What person had the biggest influence on you growing up and why?
A: My mother. She was an awesome Christian who taught me a good work ethic, respect for others and love of family.
Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
A: I don’t really feel like I have any spare time!
Q: You are very involved in the community. Tell us some of things you are involved in and what drew you to them.
A: I'm very involved in our church activities (Oak Grove Baptist) and any sport/activity that my children are involved in. I currently serve on the Exchange Club Carl Perkins Center Advisory Board ... I've been chairman of the annual dinner/auction for several years. I joined the Ripley Exchange Club when I worked in Lauderdale County so I became interested in child abuse prevention. When I came back to Covington to work, I was active in the Covington Exchange Club, then got involved with the Carl Perkins Center here. I become very emotional when I think about children being mistreated and it is my passion to help those who can’t help themselves. I serve on the Tennessee College of Applied Technology Advisory Board, Mississippi River Corridor Advisory Board and Dyersburg State Annual Fund Campaign. I have also served on the Covington-Tipton County Chamber of Commerce Board and co-chaired TOTAL Youth Leadership.
Q: What is your main role at USDA? What are some issues the USDA is dealing with these days?
A: As area director of USDA Rural Development, I am responsible for administering over federal loan and grant programs in the nine Northwest Tennessee counties. Our area of focus for 2014 is to provide resources to assist communities with sustainable projects so that people in rural places have the same opportunities as our urban neighbors. We do that through loans, loan guarantees and grants that invest in jobs, infrastructure, community development, health, education and housing, all whose goal is to improve the economic health of rural communities.