Growing up on a dairy farm in northeast Georgia, University of North Georgia graduate Katie Pitchford had a natural affinity for cows, chickens, and other animals.
It was no surprise when she joined the National FFA Organization, formerly the Future Farmers of America, in high school and worked hard to earn the youth organization's degrees. Pitchford collected the Greenhand, Chapter and State degrees as a teenager.
As she pursued her associate degree on UNG's Gainesville Campus this fall, Pitchford collected the American FFA degree during the national convention in Indianapolis, Indiana.
"It didn't hit me emotionally until a couple of weeks later," said the 20-year-old from Clermont. "I realized that, that day at the convention was the last time I would wear my official dress, which is the corduroy jacket. And I sat down and thought, 'Wow!'"
As the highest honor achievable in the FFA, members must meet qualifications to receive the American FFA Degree. Qualifications include receiving a State FFA Degree, holding active membership for three years, completing secondary instruction in an agricultural education program and operating an outstanding supervised agricultural experience program. Community service, leadership abilities, and outstanding scholastic achievement are also required.
"It's great and shows Katie's passion and commitment to learn," says Linda Purvis, assistant professor of biology and poultry science at UNG.
Pitchford graduated with her Associate of Science degree in poultry science earlier this month. She plans to work in the industry and now hopes to earn her bachelor's degree in agricultural science from UNG.