HHS alum recieves national award for collegiate FFA career

Thursday, November 7, 2019
HHS alum recieves national award for collegiate FFA career
Courtesy photo
Nicole Halfpop (center), stands with her parents Tami and Paul after receiving a national recognition award for FFA, called The American Degree. Nicole a seniorat Montana State University in Bozeman is the first woman in Big Horn County history to receive this prestigious award and the first person to receive this award in nearly 50 years.

Nicole Halfpop, formerly of Hardin, has recently received national recognition for her collegiate FFA career, titled “The American Degree.”

Over the last 50 years, Halfpop is the first woman and the fourth person ever from the Big Horn FFA Chapter to receive the American Degree.

The American Degree is the highest honor that an FFA member can receive at the national level and is awarded to less than one percent of members, yet Halfpop emerged as one of the standout FFA stars.

In order to be nominated for such an honor, a prospective nominee must have received the State FFA Degree, been an active member in the FFA for at least three years, have a record of outstanding leadership abilities, and perform at least 50 hours of community service.

Halfpop’s reception of such a prestigious award took her by surprise when she got the news.

“When I found out I would be receiving the American degree I was honestly quite surprised, knowing that it is awarded to such a small percent of members,” Halfpop said. “It was also a moment of pride knowing that someone saw all of my work and thought that I deserved recognition for it. I had a lot of help getting this award and I am so thankful for all of the advisors, and friends who encouraged me.”

Not only does Halfpop hold the distinction of being the first woman in the Big Horn FFA Chapter to receive the State FFA Degree, she is also the first person in 40 years to do so.

Halfpop, a senior who attends Montana State University in Bozeman, is the first female to have received this award since the 1970s.

Previous winners of The American Degree from the Big Horn chapter are: Tom Atkins (1967), Dave Herman (1968) and Richard Dorn (1973).

“It makes me really proud to have all of my hard work recognized,” Halfpop said. “It took six years of hard work and dedication to get to this point.”

Halfpop has always taken great pride in her agricultural background, and naturally decided to pursue an animal science degree, with a focus on pre-veterinary medicine, while college has not been easy, she remains true to her values learned in FFA and never gave up.

“There were times I wanted to quit or give up and this shows that everything leading up to this award was well worth it,” Halfpop said. “I also hope that I have somehow inspired current FFA members by showing them that they can and should set high goals for themselves and know that it is possible to achieve them.”

The FFA has always played a major role in Halfpop’s life, both personally and professionally. “The FFA has benefited me personally by helping me develop my public speaking skills, teaching me about areas of agriculture I am less familiar with, and making friends from all corners of the state,” Halfpop said. “The FFA has benefited me professionally by allowing me to make connections with other young people who share a love for agriculture.”

With an extensive background in such a major organization in Big Horn County, it is safe to say that the FFA has helped each of its members throughout their lives, extending even into their professional career decisions.

“There are contests that promote professional development like sales and job interview,” said Halfpop. “Now as an alumni, I volunteer as a judge at events like John Deere Ag Expo so I can help young members and give back to the organization that has taught me so much.”

With the reception of such a prestigious and esteemed honor, Halfpop said that this award would help her with her future endeavors.

“This (award) shows potential employers that I am committed, responsible, and willing to work for my goals,” Halfpop said. “It also shows that I have a passion for the agriculture industry and its future.”

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