Halliburton is a junior Agriculture Education major at Southern Arkansas University. She earned Honorable Mention honors on this inaugural honor by I Love Farmers…They Feed My Soul (ILF), a non-profit agriculture advocacy group.
Halliburton said she heard of ILF before attending SAU, and she knew that she wanted to host a “WTF Day,” which stands for “Where’s The Food Without The Farmer?”
“Upon her arrival, Jade began to introduce me to the I Love Farmers organization, and she suggested that SAU become affiliated. With Jade taking the lead, SAU jumped in and participated in “Where’s the Food Without the Farmer?” It was a big hit on campus. This past year, with Jade’s leadership, we participated again. Jade has been a big influence in the Agriculture Department and has instilled the idea that all of our students need to be agriculture advocates,” said Dr. Jeffry Miller, chair of the SAU Department of Agriculture.
Halliburton’s Ag advocacy work is extensive. She became in 2013 a National Collegiate Agriculture Ambassador through the National FFA Organization. She is only one of 20 such ambassadors in the U.S. She underwent two weeks of training with the National FFA in Greensboro, N.C., and in Jacksonville, Fla.
National Collegiate Agriculture Ambassadors are charged with increasing public understanding of the food, fiber and natural resource industry; promote awareness of resources needed to produce safe and reliable food sources; and increase awareness of Ag career opportunities.
“I have written workshops that have been delivered in Florida, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Iowa and I personally will complete at least 30 presentation hours with students and civic organizations by the end of my term this semester,” said Halliburton.
She is also a member of the SAU Agriculture Ambassador team, Sigma Alpha, Collegiate FFA and Collegiate Farm Bureau.
Halliburton said she did not grow up on a farm, but since her mother is a zoologist, she was surrounded by animal husbandry. Her early childhood was spent living at the Global Wildlife Center in Folsom, La. They moved to Arkansas before she started school, and she spent afternoons and summers at Kone Crossland Zoo in Crossett.
“I thought it was a normal part of a kid’s life to wake up every two hours and bottle feed orphan animals, sleep with live teddy bears, or go out in the middle of the night on animal rescue calls,” said Halliburton.
She began showing lambs through 4-H at age seven. She took off in FFA in eighth grade, competing in numerous Career Development Events and Leadership Development Events. Among these was Prepared Public Speaking, in which she became the Arkansas State Winner. She went on to take the silver medal at the 2010 National FFA Convention for her speech, “American Tradition,” which discussed the effects of animal rights activism on the Agri industry. She was also chosen to speak with the U.S. Secretary of Education, Arnie Duncan, about the importance of vocational/agriculture education in high schools.
In 2011, she served as Ashley County Cattlemen’s Princess speaking at local shows and field days. She also presented before the Senate Ag Committee concerning anti agriculture activism. She went on to serve as Miss Arkansas Beef in 2012, where she was a spokesperson for the industry on the state level.
She also helped establish Ashley County’s Agriculture Field Day, which has become an annual event that local schools and local producers have latched onto as a method of exposure, advertisement and education about the Ag industry.
Halliburton hopes to continue in a program development role after she earns her degree from SAU. She said she loves getting to work closely with young adults and the Ag industry.
In fact, she said that among all that she has done, the most impactful moment was during a presentation she was giving to a class of fourth-grade students.
“I asked, ‘Can anyone tell me where our food comes from?’ A child answered, ‘The grocery store!’ with the pride a student only wears on his or her face when he or she knows they are, without a doubt, correct. It’s a scary thought that, even in rural communities, people do not understand where there food comes from. This plants seeds for misconceptions about the agriculture industry. That moment was when I knew that I had chosen the correct field, and I felt it my job to educate others about the industry I hold so dear,” she said.
She recommends SAU to any prospective students because she said at SAU “you’re more than your student number.” She said the professors care about her, as well as her success.
“I feel at home here. I have no doubt that you will too,” Halliburton said to anyone considering SAU.