BV’s Jessica Harsh focused on her future
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Jessica Harsh has essentially been working toward her future since she was six years old.
It was then that the Buckeye Valley senior was watching uncles and cousins show their Angus cattle at the state fair. It was also then that she knew she wanted to do the same thing, she said. By the age of 8, she too was showing cattle.
Years have passed since that first show and now Jessica hopes to attend either Purdue or Ohio State universities to major in animal science and ag communication. She is also considering pursuing a master’s degree in animal nutrition.
“I’m looking hard at Purdue. They have a pretty campus plus there have been improvements to the ag program,” she said.
“Jessica’s strong agricultural background acquired from growing up on a family farm and raising show cattle, her academic diligence and her drive for excellence will help her to secure a bright future in an animal science career field,” said Jamie Gregory, the agricultural educator and FFA advisor at Buckeye Valley.
Nowadays, the show circuit for Jessica starts Thanksgiving weekend and continues until the first weekend in April. Showing as far away as Kansas, this year the big show will be in Louisville in November. Then, when the season is over, it will be time to focus on getting steers ready for the state fair.
Jessica works closely with her brother Curtis who also shows cattle.
“We’re kind of like each other’s right hand man,” she said.
After graduation from Buckeye Valley, Jessica said she will still be involved with showing. As one of the board of directors for the National Junior Chianina Association (Jessica shows a cross breed of Chianina cattle), she will still be involved traveling and helping out with shows.
Back home as a senior at Buckeye Valley, she is excited to see the renovations to the high school completed, and even though as a senior she will not have as much time to appreciate them, she is pleased the improvements will benefit future BV students. With many friends in the class that graduated last year, Jessica said it was tough for her when all the seniors left last year. But on the first day of school the realization hit her — “we’re the seniors now,” she said.
She is ready to graduate and get on with her life. With moving in between two circles of friends — those at high school and those she’s met cattle showing — she said she has learned to just be herself. “Do not try to change your personality. You’ll get more respect,” she said.
She realizes that it may be more difficult to stay in touch with her school friends, whereas she expects she will still be seeing the friends she has from showing cattle.
As president of FFA, Jessica decided to use her leadership skills to focus on that group this year. “There ara a lot good opportunities in the program for leadership,” she said, adding there are about 30 incoming freshman this year who she can help to develop career and leadership skills.
In 4-H for the past eight years, and holding officer positions for the last seven years, Jessica also volunteers through 4-H, helping with the baseball fields in Radnor and conducting other volunteer activities as a member of the junior fair board. She also volunteers for a cancer fundraiser through her softball team.
Jessica and her family also participate in walks for diabetes. Jessica has Type I diabetes.
“I do not see it as a misfortune,” she said. “It’s something to build life on. It’s helped me become a better person.”
“Jessica Harsh is exactly the type of student who any teacher would want to have in their class,” Gregory said. “Not only does Jessica excel in the classroom, but she has also been very active in our local FFA chapter and is currently serving as our Buckeye Valley DACC FFA chapter president. Upon entering her senior year in high school she has already earned the Ohio FFA State Degree, applied for FFA Beef Production Proficiency Awards, and has been recognized several times as a star member in our FFA chapter. She constantly sets high expectations for herself and our FFA chapter, which has made her a great role model for the other FFA members.”
Buckeye Valley social studies teacher Maria Velalis has had Jessica as a student for several years. She said, “Jessica is a wonderful student (who) demonstrates her priority in placing high standards for herself in education by consistently receiving excellent grades.”
Jessica was inducted into National Honor Society last spring and has been a scholar athlete for three years.
Velalis said, “Jessica is a very conscientious and self-motivated individual. She is always polite, respectful, honest and willing to help other students and teachers when in need. Jessica strives to make a difference at Buckeye Valley by using her leadership skills as President of the FFA Chapter. She has been involved in Varsity Softball for three years of her high school career and always shows a positive attitude as well as school spirit. She has given many hours of community service to her school and her community. Jessica is truly an asset to Buckeye Valley and the student body. I believe Jessica will make a positive difference in her future endeavors.”
With her ties around the country, Jessica said she could relocate a number of places once she attains her college degree.
“But I’m hoping to stay reasonably close to home,” she said.
Jessica is the daughter of David and Michele Harsh of Radnor.