On Wednesday, Oct. 28, 20-year-old Jordan Walker of Buffalo Junction felt a sense of accomplishment as her name flashed across the television screen.

She was being recognized for receiving the American FFA Degree during the 93rd National FFA Convention & Expo that was held virtually and broadcasted on RFD-TV, The Cowboy Channel and on FFA.org.

All her years of hard work had paid off.

In order to receive the American FFA Degree, an individual must have received the State FFA Degree, been an active member for at least three years, have a record of satisfactory participation in the activities on the chapter and state level, along with other criteria.

Walker has previously earned the State FFA Degree, Chapter FFA Degree, Greenhand FFA Degree and Discovery FFA Degree.

She first joined Future Farmers of America after attending Bridgett Turner’s agriculture class at Halifax County Middle School.

After she found out that she would have the chance to help take care of Turner’s ferrets, Walker jumped at the opportunity.

Plus her mother, Karen told her it would be a good opportunity for her to join, and after years of being with the organization, she sees that her mother was right.

“It was good for the life experience,” said Walker.

Over the years, she learned the trials and tribulations of raising “aggressive and stubborn” sheep and steer to show at livestock shows.

While her sheep were kept on a friend’s property and checked on weekly, her steers were kept on her parent’s farm. She was able to feed them daily and visit them in hopes of getting them more used to people.

“It was way more different than I thought it would be,” said Walker, who at a young age expected the animals to be affectionate.

Nonetheless, she preserved through six years of raising animals and showing them off at livestock shows.

In May of 2017, she showed the grand champion steer at the 59th annual Junior Livestock Show, and in 2018, her efforts won her the Halifax County Junior Livestock Show Jacob Talley Memorial Scholarship.

Other efforts she completed for FFA include working on her grandparents’ farm.

They grew a variety of produce including string beans, turnips, butterbeans, broccoli, corn and blueberries, and Walker was right there alongside her grandmother helping shuck corn or pick blueberries.

Her father, Samuel, also grows tobacco and last year, he grew hemp.

Walker took the time to examine her father’s hemp crop each week to see if it had any insect damage, how the plant was doing, how big it was and whether or not it was withering.

“Hemp has different types of parasites than tobacco,” Walker explained adding, “It was interesting to see for sure.”

Now attending N.C. State University, Walker is majoring in food science in hopes of getting a better understanding of why food reacts to different circumstances.

After graduating, she plans to attend graduate school and earn her doctrine to delve more into sensory science in hopes of gaining a better understanding of why certain foods do better on the market than others.

She started this year of schooling in quarantine so she’s had plenty of time to look back on journey with FFA, and she feels she wouldn’t have been successful without the help of her former agriculture teachers, Turner, Jonathan Chandler and Ms. Vaughan, her advisors Don Reese and Ellen Crowder, and her parents.

Crowder, she said, helped her not only with her State FFA Degree application, but with the American FFA Degree application as well making sure Walker met all the requirements.

Walker was one of 69 Virginians who received the American FFA Degree this year, and the only from Halifax County.

As the highest degree achievable in the National FFA Organization, the American FFA Degree shows her dedication to her chapter and state FFA association, and demonstrates her efforts applied toward their supervised agricultural experience and the outstanding leadership abilities and community involvement they exhibited through their FFA career, according to the FFA website.

Ashley Hodge is the editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com

Ashley Hodge is the editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com