Graduating business student earns American FFA degree

Published 01.08.2024

Photo courtesy of Blaine L. Walizer

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When Blaine L. Walizer crossed the stage at Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Dec. 16 commencement ceremony, it marked the second degree he earned in a matter of weeks.

From Penn College, the Beech Creek resident completed an associate degree in business management. In early November, he accepted the American FFA Degree at the Future Farmers of America National Convention.

As the highest degree achievable in FFA, it shows a member’s dedication to his or her local chapter and state association. It demonstrates the effort the member has applied toward their supervised agricultural experience and the outstanding leadership abilities and community involvement they have exhibited.

Recent Pennsylvania College of Technology graduate Blaine L. Walizer, of Beech Creek, is also the recent recipient of an American FFA degree – the highest degree awarded by Future Farmers of America.
Recent Pennsylvania College of Technology graduate Blaine L. Walizer, of Beech Creek, is also the recent recipient of an American FFA degree – the highest degree awarded by Future Farmers of America.

Walizer is a graduate of Sugar Valley Rural Charter School in Loganton, where he got involved in the school’s FFA chapter in seventh grade.

“As I gained more insight into the program, I realized just how beneficial it was to not only my academics, but also my life,” Walizer said. “I stayed involved and participated in as many FFA events and competitions as possible.”

In his 12th grade year, he served as chapter president.

His supervised agricultural experience entailed both an “entrepreneurial experience”: a swine operation he’d established through showing pigs at the Clinton County Fair during his 4-H participation, and a placement experience: his employment as a herdsman assistant at Dotterer Dairy, a 1,200-cow dairy farm in Mill Hall.

“These SAEs had to show various planned learning goals, as well as outcomes after each year,” Walizer explained. “On top of that, there are some high financial requirements that have to be met in order to be eligible for the award.” (A member must have earned and productively invested money.)

His activities at Sugar Valley Regional Charter School qualified him for both the State Degree, which he earned in 2022, and the American Degree; all that was left was to document it.

Walizer is one of 82 Pennsylvanians to earn the American FFA degree at this year’s national convention.

Though his involvement as an FFA member concluded with his completion of the degree, he plans to continue to support his high school chapter and State Association as an alumnus.

“Being involved in FFA is probably one of the greatest things you can do,” Walizer said. “You don’t have to be directly involved in agriculture itself because FFA encompasses a wide variety of fields – science, technology, engineering, mathematics. All of those play a vital role in the agriculture industry.”

The new graduate plans to stay in the area to work on a few of his own investments and ideas, then head West to gain new work experiences before immersing himself in the business field.

“I have a few cool ideas I am working on bringing to the table, but they require me to see some other areas as well as make new connections,” he said. “I plan to come back in the future and get my bachelor’s in business administration.”

Walizer had been considering attending Penn College for years.

“I wanted a place that laid it all out there and provided students with everything they need to succeed in the modern world,” Walizer said. “Penn College was an easy decision, especially since I could work and commute every day. I am a huge advocate for tradesmen, as I am a farmer, but at the end of the day, agriculture is a business – a tough one, at that! In order to succeed in today’s world, it is integral to have a solid foundation in understanding business, especially if you want to be a strategic player.”

In addition to his academic career and FFA involvement, Walizer sits on the Board of Directors for the Clinton County Farm Bureau and was recently appointed Young Ag Professional District 6 leader for the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau. District 6 encompasses Centre, Clinton and Lycoming counties.

To learn more about Penn College’s business-related degrees, call 570-327-4505.

For information about the college, a national leader in applied technology education, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.