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Student Profile: Julia Hamblen

Future Teacher Finds Her Calling in Agriculture

By Jack Garner

Julia Hamblen, a freshman agricultural education major from Shelbyville, Indiana, always felt a calling to teach. Spurred by growing up as a teacher’s kid, she knew she wanted to help make a difference in the lives of students.

“I spent a lot of time in my mom’s classroom,” Hamblen said. “Even as an elementary kid, I knew I wanted to have my own classroom someday.”

photo of Julia Hamblen Julia Hamblen has known that she has wanted to teach for a long time. But it wasn’t until she discovered FFA in high school that she knew she wanted to teach agriculture. Photo by Jack Garner

But her journey to teaching agriculture took a little longer. She had little exposure to agriculture growing up, she explained. She did not grow up on a farm or participate in 4-H. Despite this, she has a great appreciation the ag industry. Wanting to become involved, she joined her high school’s FFA program after it was chartered in 2017. From then on, she knew she had found her calling.

Hamblen competed in different FFA events and took agriculture classes in high school, rapidly expanding her knowledge of agriculture. Hamblen found immense success and opportunities in FFA. Her ability to connect with her peers and be a positive voice in the ag community helped Hamblen become Indiana’s FFA state president.

Hamblen admired the agriculture teachers she had in school and credits them for helping her become FFA president. Hamblen said she always paid attention to how teachers managed their classrooms or guided extracurricular's, because some day she wanted to do the same.

“Eventually, I realized that I could also teach agriculture!” she said.

Since coming to Purdue, she truly fell in love with agricultural education. It was the perfect major for her to blend her passions for teaching and agriculture.

“I now get to apply many of those skills I developed; build on the relationships I made in high school,” said Hamblen.

Hamblen knows how to successfully communicate about agriculture with teenagers at an impressive level, something that can be a daunting task for many who go into teaching.

She said she is particularly excited to reach out to students who may have come from the same background she did.

“I feel like I can make non-traditional ag students really enjoy taking my class and being around agriculture,” Hamblen said.

Hamblen has especially enjoyed her early student teaching opportunities. Being in front of a classroom feels very natural to her. Is she nervous?

“Not really,” she said.

She mentioned that speaking to a handful of high school kids is a lot easier than the large crowds she addressed while serving as Indiana FFA president; crowds that often included important figures like Governor Eric Holcomb or Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch.

She also has a great support system of upperclassmen in the major who share their experiences and pour time into her. She said it has made the transition to college life a lot easier.

Though it is several years away, Hamblen is already excited to begin teaching full-time after graduating. Wherever she ends up, she hopes to be a positive influence on her students and instill in them the same passion for agriculture that she discovered.

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