In honor of national Future Farmers of America week (February 21-27) the Quitman High School Chapter celebrates Alex Walker being named the 2020 National Champion in vegetable production and Louisiana state star farmer. During his four years as a member of the Quitman FFA, the son of Leo and Christie Walker, also earned 3 first-place, 17 second-place, 2 third-place banners and a fourth-place banner in Supervised Agricultural Efficiency (SAE) project competition.
Making the tremendous amount of banners won even more impressive is that an FFA student is only allowed to place first in only one SAE per year, and once the member places first in a certain SAE, they can no longer compete in that project. As result, Walker had SAE’s in Ag Processing, Ag Sales, Ag Services, Beef Production, Diversified Agricultural
Production, Diversified Crop Production, Diversified Livestock Production, Fruit Production, Nursery Operations, Outdoor Recreation, Poultry Production, Small Animal Production, Specialty Crop Production, and Vegetable Production.
The sophomore Forestry major at Louisiana Tech University retains his membership as a Quitman FFA member as he seeks the coveted FFA American Degree. The American Degree is earned by less than one percent of all FFA members and is the highest degree that can be achieved in the organization. It is the culmination of their supervised agriculture experience, leadership skills and community involvement.
“I was reluctant to get this involved at first,” Walker said when reflecting on how he began his FFA career, “My parents forced me to spend my summer vacations at the FFA state conventions with my brother when I was younger,”
Fast forward seven years to August of 2016 when Walker zipped up his own FFA jacket for the first time and never looked back. With his 2018 First Place win in Specialty Crop Production, Walker earned a Silver placement at nationals. With his 2019 First Place win in Diversified Crop Production, Walker earned a Gold placement at nationals. He served as chapter president his senior year and served as Area I Sentinel for two years.
The 2020 Louisiana State Convention was canceled due to the Covid-19 epidemic and Walker learned he won First Place in Vegetable Production via YouTube. It was the placement he had been working for after logging hundreds of hours of “sweat equity” in his Vegetable Production SAE. Walker plowed, planted, gathered and sold his produce for five years.
In a year like no other, once Walker learned that he had qualified as a national finalist he had to respond to the judge’s questions in a video submission instead of competing at the national convention in Indianapolis, Indiana.
He learned he was a national champion on a zoom call at Quitman High School with the three other finalists during a live telecast of the National FFA Convention. Walker is only the tenth Louisiana FFA student to win a national championship for an SAE since Louisiana FFA was established in 1930. Walker also learned that he was named Louisiana State Star Farmer via YouTube. Star Farmer is the highest achievement Louisiana FFA can bestow upon an FFA member with an SAE in production agriculture. The award represents achievements in production, leadership, and community service.
Walker was recently interviewed at the family farm by This Week In Louisiana Agriculture and his segment will air in March 2021.Nowadays he can be found most Saturdays at the Ruston Farmers Market where he is a regular vendor at the Joywalk Daylily Garden and Produce Booth. During the summer he can also be found at various locations in Lincoln or Jackson Parish selling his watermelons and produce and is thankful to all the people who have purchased his produce and watermelons and hopes for their continued support in the future.
He is also thankful to his chapter members and advisor, Marty Cantrell. Cantrell who worked tirelessly to make sure he and all FFA members made it to camp, competition and conventions. Walker’s national championship is the second under Cantrell with his prior being for a LDE. As a staunch advocate for FFA, Walker urges everyone to support their local chapter because the funding helps pay for summer camp, the competition fees, and state and national convention fees.
Walker also acknowledges the late Dan Stout, former Quitman FFA Advisor, and his brother, Nick Walker who is now in his second year of vet school at Lincoln Memorial University in Ewing, Virginia, for giving him a competitive
spirit. His brother was a prior State Star Farmer and fierce SAE competitor. Lastly, he thanks his parents for all the miles they have logged during the past eleven years attending state and national FFA conventions and for all their help, support, and encouragement.
An FFA member is allowed to display the three highest pins they have earned on the front of their jacket. Walker’s FFA jacket is adorned with the blue medal reflecting that he is a national finalist, the blue and gold medal
representing that he is a national champion, and the pin recognizing him as the State Star Farmer. When he unzips his jacket for the last time, Walker will not put away the friendships he formed, the memories made, or the life lessons he
learned along the way.