HITCHCOCK — Many Galveston County students involved in 4-H and Future Farmers of America decide to pursue agriculture as a career, County Extension Agent Bill Holcombe said.

“A lot of them go into ag-related fields,” Holcombe said. “What is considered an ag field is considered a huge area. They can go into teaching positions, county extension agent positions like myself, work for ag-chemical companies or continue to farm and ranch with their families.”

Thazerein “Taz” Smalley and Savannah Marie Martin are two ambitious FFA members who joined their clubs with little more than a love for animals. Now, they both have big plans about how they will capitalize on what they’ve learned.

“What is considered to be the field of agriculture is considered a huge area,” Holcombe said. “That’s one of the great things about it — if they have an interest, they can find it in agriculture.”

Smalley, a sophomore at Dickinson High School, said he always wanted to be an entrepreneur and had his sights set on owning a car dealership until he joined FFA in the eighth grade.

 “It hit me a year after I started,” he said. “That’s when I knew I wanted to go bigger and make it a career. I remember seeing someone at the fair make $1,200 on three rabbits and thought, ‘I’ve got to get involved in that.’”

Now, Smalley decided to start his own breeding ranch.

“I’d like to sell cattle,” he said. “People need agriculture. I want people to be able to go to me to me for that.”

Martin, a senior at Texas City High School, wants to open a veterinary practice in her hometown that specializes in large animals. She already planned on being a veterinarian before joining FFA her freshman year, she said.

Part of what appeals to both Smalley and Martin about a career in agriculture is independence.

 “I’ve never really been good with authority,” she said. “But I’ve always had compassion for other living beings. I like having something to do and taking care of something other than myself.”

Independence is part of the entrepreneurial spirit that Smalley said drew him to business in the first place.

“I don’t like people telling what to do,” Smalley said. “That’s why I want to be my own boss. I want to support myself without having to rely on anyone else.”

Neither intends to stop working closely with family members in pursuit of their agricultural aspirations.

Smalley’s mother and aunt got him involved in FFA and have financially supported his pursuit. He said he hopes to one day be successful enough to support his mother to show his appreciation.

Martin said her efforts raising animals in FFA brought her closer to her father, who was also involved in the club as a student. Together, they birthed her heifer Blue Belle she showed in the Galveston County Fair & Rodeo this year.

Martin said she wants to one day go into the cow breeding business with her father, in addition to owning her own veterinary practice.

These are the people who are going to one day take over the rapidly growing agriculture industry, Holcombe said.

“There’s a lot of interest in these kids because there’s not enough people going into the field due to the growth,” he said. “Ag production companies like Monsanto and Cargill are actively recruiting them and hiring positions from sales to biological sciences.”

Contact reporter Whitney Hodgin at 409-683-5236 or whitney.hodgin@galvnews.com.

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