Tennessee farmer named 2012 Star in Agricultural Placement finalist by National FFA Organization

INDIANAPOLIS (September, 2012/National FFA Organization) - For 21-year-old Cody Jackson Walker, from Morrison, Tenn., being born into a farm family was the best thing that could have ever happened to him.

“My parents were both raised on cattle farms and my two grandfathers were old-fashioned cattleman,” Jackson said. “I attribute my love of Hereford cattle, farm life and agriculture to my parents and my grandparents and the way that I was raised.”

This love has carried Walker through his years of work on his family’s diversified farm operation, nursery and gardens and could now earn him top honors.

The National FFA Organization has named Walker a 2012 American Star in Agricultural Placement finalist, one of the organization’s highest honors. He will compete with three other finalists at the 85th National FFA Convention & Expo, Oct. 24 - 27, in Indianapolis.

Each year at the national convention and expo, 16 national finalists – four in each category – vie for the organization’s top awards: American Star Farmer, American Star in Agribusiness, American Star in Agricultural Placement and American Star in Agriscience. These awards honor students who have developed outstanding agricultural skills and competencies through their supervised agricultural experience; demonstrated outstanding management skills; earned the American FFA Degree – the organization’s highest level of accomplishment; and met other agricultural education, scholastic and leadership requirements. Each finalist will be interviewed by a panel of judges, who will ultimately name the top candidate in each area. The winner will be announced in an onstage ceremony and will receive a plaque and an award of $4,000. The runners-up will also receive a plaque and $2,000 each.

Walker is currently an assistant herdsman at the 400-acre Walker Farms, which raises registered polled Hereford cattle, and crew foreman for the horticulture operations, which grows 172 different varieties of Tennessee trees and shrubs on 550 acres and ships to more than 25 states.

“My father has over 30 years of experience and he has encouraged me to be involved in many of the decisions made on the farm” said. “I’ve learned a lot from my father and appreciate everything he has and continues to do for me. Because of his guidance, I am now able to do almost any job required on the farm and in the nursery production as well.”

Since graduating from high school, Walker has devoted all of his time to the family’s operation.

“No two days are alike in my work,” Walker said. “If I find a sick calf when I do my daily pasture checks, then I may spend the day working with that calf. On a spring day, I can often be found in a nursery field tagging trees for an order or in the office working on a computer to verify orders. I enjoy the diversity my career brings to my life.”

Walker is the son of Eric and Pam Farmer Walker. His FFA advisors are Russell Watson, David Upton, Shannon Ford, Kim Miller and Danielle Smith.

The American FFA Degree recognition programs, such as the American Star Awards, are co-sponsored by Alltech Inc.; Case IHElanco; Farm Credit; Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont Business; and Syngenta as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.