Texas has more farms than any other state in the U.S., and it leads the nation in cattle and cotton production. Helping young people recognize future careers in agriculture is especially important in the Lone Star State.
Students across the state learn about agriculture and prepare for careers in the industry through programs such as 4-H and FFA, as well as agricultural education courses both in high school and at Texas colleges and universities.
The Texas Department of Agriculture recognizes middle and high school student leaders who demonstrate excellence in their pursuits in and out of the classroom with the GROW Award, which Gives Recognition for Outstanding Work.
Seventeen-year-old Adam Morton of Louise, Texas, is one of the eight GROW Award recipients for 2012-13. A senior at Louise High School, Morton lives on a cattle farm and shows steers at the Wharton County Youth Fair.
He is active in 4-H, FFA, student council and athletics, including powerlifting. He competes in state, national and international powerlifting competitions and holds a state, national and world record in his weight class for dead lift and bench press.
“I like staying busy. I help people who live around us harvest corn, rice and soybeans every summer,” Morton says. “I was hauling hay at 8 years old.”
Morton serves as a junior deacon at his church and volunteers at community events and beautification days. He loves the outdoors and enjoys hunting and fishing with his family. He plans to attend Texas A&M University and major in wildlife biology.
“I grew up hunting and learning about wildlife, and I would like to become a game warden with Texas Parks and Wildlife,” Morton says. “I want to help protect animals for future generations, so when my future kids have kids they can enjoy hunting like I do.”
Learning To Be A Leader
Sixteen-year-old Angie Pascarella of Harper, Texas, was another GROW Award recipient for the 2012-13 school year. A junior at Harper High School, Pascarella is a National Honor Society member, participates in FFA and student council, and manages the volleyball and track teams.
“It’s rare today to see kids step up and be leaders who take charge and know what to do,” Pascarella says. “I want to be looked at differently by adults, not looked at as the stereotypical teenager.”
Pascarella lives on a ranch where she grew up around ostriches, quail, goats, chicken and sheep, so her involvement in FFA came naturally.
“I joined FFA for the speaking events because I’ve always loved public speaking. I did agriculture advocacy my sophomore year, and I was secretary of our chapter,” Pascarella says.
Focus On Service
After attending a leadership camp in seventh grade, Pascarella was challenged to create a service project in her community. She started a Junior Librarians Club, recruiting middle schoolers to volunteer their time at the Harper Library, where they hosted a summer reading club for children. She also hosted a reception to honor library donors and volunteers at fundraisers held by the Harper Volunteer Fire Department.
Pascarella plans to attend college after high school and major in business.
“I will definitely continue supporting agriculture in my lifestyle by doing things like buying local,” she says. “I love living in Texas because you always see farms, wineries and produce stands right around the corner. It’s refreshing to be surrounded by agriculture.”