Former Winlock Ag Teacher Receives Honorary FFA American Degree

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It was a registration error at Lloyd Walker’s high school that first got him involved in Future Farmers of America (FFA) back in the 1970s.

He fell in love with the program and now, after years of dedication to FFA and a 39-year career as Winlock High School’s ag teacher, Walker has been awarded an Honorary American FFA Degree.

The national award is bestowed on individuals who have provided “exceptional service” to agriculture on a national level and to teachers “who have created high-quality educational programs which inspire and motivate their students for success,” according to the FFA.

Of the 116 individuals who received the award this year, Walker is the only recipient from Washington.

“I was receiving the award, but I think I was receiving the award for all the efforts that the kids have done over the years,” Walker said.

He started teaching at Winlock High School in 1981 after earning his FFA American degree and graduating from Washington State University. “(I) stayed with it all the way through and loved the community, loved the kids. It was a great 39-year run.”

Walker credits his own high school ag teacher, Larry Gilbertson, who passed away in 2009, for fostering his love for FFA.

“I used my experiences and the guidance of my FFA advisor to kind of guide me in the direction of what I wanted to be,” he said.

Throughout his teaching career, Walker was a well-known presence at state and county fairs, local FFA events and Winlock School District events, frequently volunteering with the district’s annual Walk n’ Knock holiday food drive and at Cardinals concession stands. 

The Winlock School District formally congratulated Walker for the award on Nov. 17.

“Congratulations Mr. Walker for a very well deserved recognition … You are truly a legend and so proud you are a Cardinal!” said the school district in a news release.

While he formally retired four months into the pandemic, Walker continued volunteering with FFA at the state level, helping advise students and coordinating poultry career development events.

State FFA Advisor Dennis Wallace told Walker over the summer that he’d nominated Walker for the Honorary American FFA Degree due to his continued work with students, even after his retirement.

“I was very honored,” Walker said.

He found out he won the award earlier this fall, and was excited to learn he had the opportunity to return to the National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis, Indiana for the 36th time to pick it up.

“I looked forward to going back and hopefully bumping into friends across the nation I had met over the years, so it was a great honor to be able to go back to receive it,” he said.

The award now hangs on a wall in his home.

“I stare at it every day, thinking, ‘wow, this is really cool,’” he said.