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Poultry science student earns FFA American degree

2019-12-13-Katie Pitchford-1
University of North Georgia (UNG) student Katie Pitchford collected the American FFA degree during the national convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. Only 1% of all FFA members earn the American FFA degree. Her high school agriculture teacher and FFA adviser, Mitch Davis, attended the ceremony.

Growing up on a dairy farm in north Georgia, University of North Georgia (UNG) student 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 the Gainesville Campus in fall 2019, 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, Georgia. "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.

Only 1% of all FFA members earn the American FFA degree, said Dr. Linda Purvis, assistant professor of biology and poultry science at UNG.

"It's great and shows Katie's passion and commitment to learn," she said.

Pitchford will graduate with her Associate of Science degree in poultry science in December 2019. She plans to work in the industry and hopes to earn her bachelor's degree in agricultural science online.

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