Around 3.5 million students will graduate from high school in the U.S. this year. Of that number, 161 have been recognized as U.S. Presidential Scholars. And of that number, only 20 have been chosen in the category of Career and Technical Education.
Dalton C. Green of Gordon Lee Memorial High School in Chickamauga is one of the twenty. This month (June), he’ll be heading to Washington, D.C., where he and the other 160 honorees will be publicly recognized. “I’ve been to Washington before, with the 4-H Club,” says Green, who lives in Ringgold, “but I’m looking forward to this trip. We’ll have a tour of the White House and the Capitol, and I’m hoping I’ll get a chance to meet the president.”
Each student who receives the award can nominate a teacher to be honored. Green chose his agriculture instructor, Becky Forrester, who has been recognized as a Distinguished Teacher.
Green is not new to winning honors, nor to demonstrating the skills that lead to them. He was one of 20 students chosen to receive the 2017 Georgia Youth Leadership Award by 21st Century Leaders. The projects and work that led to the distinction include creating a “Farm to Fork” camp at Chickamauga Elementary School to teach children about growing food and caring for farm animals, serving as state chairman of the Georgia Junior Cattleman’s Association and as state president of the Georgia Junior Hereford Association, 12 years of participation in 4-H, and five years with Future Farmers of America where he earned the Georgia State FFA Degree for completing 300 hours of supervised agriculture experience and performing over 50 hours of community service.
“My passion for agriculture started when I was in the first grade,” says Green, “and I was showing sheep in 4-H.” He has since served as a judge of livestock at competitions.
Green now has his own small herd of Hereford cattle, and he has two horses. One of his horses, a mare named Roy Jean, is a Mustang he adopted then trained for the Youth and Yearling Mustang Challenge.
“Roy Jean came from the wild in Oklahoma,” says Green. “From there, she went to Virginia to be checked by a vet and vaccinated, and then to Mike Branch in Blaine, Tenn., which is where I got her.”
Green had chosen names for a gelding – either Roy, after Roy Rogers, or Gene, after Gene Autry. “When I got a mare instead,” he says, “I put the names together and changed the spelling of Gene and figured if you say them kind of fast, it sounds like a girl’s name.” Green had 90 days to train Roy Jean to the saddle. He says much of that time was spent building a bond of trust with her. He took fourth place out of twenty.
Green’s other horse, Traveler, is a bit of a celebrity. Green and Traveler have served as mascots for Gordon Lee sporting events for seven years – Green dressed as a Trojan and Traveler playing the part of courageous war steed, galloping across football and baseball fields or standing at dignified attention as the National Anthem plays.
But agriculture is what Green breathes and he has his future planned around it, including a lofty ultimate goal.
“I’ll be attending the University of Georgia,” says Green, “majoring in agricultural education and minoring in agricultural business. Then I hope to return to Walker County to teach agriculture in local schools.”
Green also plans to become a Young Farmer Advisor with the Georgia Young Farmers Association, a group that helps farmers improve their growing, husbandry and business skills. “I want to be involved with as many agriculture groups as possible to help others and to keep connected with people in the business.”
And finally, Green says, he would like to crown his career by one day becoming the Georgia commissioner of agriculture.
It’s a big plan, but there’s ample evidence that the young leader and agriculture enthusiast is up to it.