Gates at the Gates foundation

Last year marked Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates' first year working full time as co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In an interview with CNET, done in conjunction with the release of his annual foundation letter, he shared his insights into his philanthropy work, as well as some highlights of his travels.

Gates talks with employees of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle last month.

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Photo by: Courtesy of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation / Caption by:

dairy farm

Gates visits what is known as a "smallholder" dairy farm in Kabiyet in the Rift Valley Province of Kenya last year.

Early on in his second annual foundation letter, Gates says: "It's been an incredible year and I enjoyed having lots of time to meet with the innovators working on some of the world's most important problems. I got to go out and talk with people making progress in the field, ranging from teachers in North Carolina to health workers fighting polio in India to dairy farmers in Kenya. Seeing the work firsthand reminds me of how urgent the needs are as well as how challenging it is to get all the right pieces to come together. I love my new job and feel lucky to get to focus my time on these problems."

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Photo by: Courtesy of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation / Caption by:

West Charlotte High School

Gates attends a lunch discussion with West Charlotte High School students in North Carolina in September.

Innovation in education is key, he tells CNET. "If we don't innovate in education, the budget cuts and increasing expense of a really great university education, it's literally going to mean less people get to go have that education at a time when more people are going to want it and the country needs more people to get those educations."

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Photo by: Courtesy of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation / Caption by:

Gates at West Charlotte High School

Gates pays a visit to an algebra class at West Charlotte High School in September.

In his annual foundation letter, Gates says he and his wife visited a number of schools in North Carolina in the fall and "had a chance to see some amazing principals and teachers."

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Photo by: Courtesy of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation / Caption by:

Farmers in India

Gates talks with farmers in Talegaon, India, who are using drip-irrigation tubing systems from IDEI's (International Development Enterprises, India) KB brand in November 2008.
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Photo by: Courtesy of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation/Prashant Panjiar / Caption by:

Bophelo Pele Male Circumcision Clinic

Gates meets with men who have been circumcised or plan to be circumcised at the Bophelo Pele Male Circumcision Clinic in Orange Farm, South Africa.

Gates told CNET that he wasn't sure at first that promoting adult circumcision to reduce the spread of AIDS in Africa would be feasible. But he says the demand for the procedure in multiple centers has been high. "It looks like that's really going to help slow the disease."

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Photo by: Courtesy of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation/Mariella Furrer / Caption by:

Bini health clinic

At a Bini health clinic in Sokoto, Nigeria, last year, Gates administers polio drops to a child.
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Photo by: Courtesy of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation/Prashant Panjiar / Caption by:
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