Lakeland grad receives FFA degree

Published 10:38 pm Friday, November 5, 2010

Brent Bunch, a senior at Virginia Tech, recently received the highest degree awarded by the Future Farmers of America.

A passion for agriculture is in Brent Bunch’s blood. He has the degree to prove it.

Bunch, 22, became the fourth Lakeland High School graduate, in the school’s 20-plus years, to receive an American Future Farmers of America degree at the 83rd National FFA Convention in October.

“I hope it shows that I’m dedicated to agriculture and environmental issues,” Bunch said. “I hope to work along those lines. It’s been a big part of my life.”

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Bunch is a senior at Virginia Tech, where he is majoring in biological systems engineering.

He grew up on a 1,600-acre farm on Lummis Road. As a young child, he would sit on his grandfather’s lap in the tractor as it wound through the fields of corn, soybeans, cotton, wheat and peanuts. He soon began working on the farm himself.

He became involved in the FFA in high school, where he fine-tuned his skills in the shop with woods and metals. He also gained more experience in crop sciences and livestock production.

In college, he decided to pursue the FFA degree.

“There was not point in stopping now,” Bunch said. “I’ve always been involved in agriculture and hope I always will be.”

Those receiving the American FFA degree must meet several qualifications. The applicant must have been an active member of the FFA for the past three years, have completed at least three years of secondary school instruction in an agricultural education program and completed one year of a postsecondary education program in an agricultural major. Applicants must have graduated from high school at least 12 months prior to the national convention at which the degree is granted and have earned and productively invested at least $7,500 to show supervised agricultural experience. An entrant must also have a record of outstanding leadership abilities, community involvement and good grades in high school.

Bunch has worked at B&W Farms doing everything from fabrication to harvesting. At an internship at Amadas Industries, he was an engineering aide and helped build prototype machinery. He also interned at Norfolk Naval Base in environmental compliance.

Bunch is the son of Bobby and Debbie Bunch.