On Saturday, October 27, Unity College Captive Wildlife Care and Education major Jessie Hooker (‘20), was honored onstage at the FFA’s national convention in Indianapolis with her American Degree.

Among more than 600,000 National FFA (Future Farmers of America) Organization members, all of them strive to earn the FFA American Degree, the highest degree achievable in the National FFA Organization. But only a handful have put in the work to receive such an honor.

“I’ve been dreaming about this since I was a freshman in high school,” Jessie said. “I really looked up to the state president when I entered my freshman year of high school, and to see her get this honor really inspired me.”

Earning an FFA American Degree is no easy feat. Jessie has been working on her supervised agricultural experience (SAE) in Diversified Livestock Production Entrepreneurship, which she has expanded on from when she first began in high school with Sheep Production Entrepreneurship. In that work, Jessie raises livestock on her home farm, including animals such as Tunis sheep, Oberhasli goats, and poultry including broiler chickens, egg-laying hens, and Muscovy ducks.

Her Unity College education also helped her earn the degree, as she hopes to take what she learns as a Captive Wildlife Care and Education major, and share it with her own students when she becomes a high school teacher, as well as an FFA advisor.

“I want to congratulate Jessie on receiving this amazing honor from the FFA,” said Unity College President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury. “She has an entrepreneurial spirit and has put in a lot of work to achieve this goal, and she is a great representation of some of the best Unity College has to offer.”

“It’s so unreal,” Jessie continued. “Wow! I have this degree I’ve been working toward and dreaming about for the past six years. It’s an incredible feeling.”

Founded in 1928, the National FFA Organization prepares members for leadership and careers in the science, business, and technology of agriculture. The organization prides itself on providing hands-on education that its members can later transfer into their career paths, which can range from farmers to teachers, doctors, or business owners.