At first take, John Showalter of Broadway, Virginia, is a soft-spoken 17 year-old following his parents’ Hokie footsteps.

Although, for John Showalter, he is pursuing a degree and an experience unique from his dad and mom, who graduated with Applied Economic Management degrees from the Virginia Tech Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics in ‘94 and ’95, respectively.

However, that same department was an obvious choice for Showalter, an in-state student who wants to study agribusiness.

“I didn’t have an option,” said Showalter. “Our whole family is full of Tech fans, and with Tech having the agriculture program, it just made sense.”

Showalter participated in events and programs organized by Future Farmers of America throughout middle and high school, which solidified his interest in agriculture. And while he doesn’t yet know where exactly he wants to end up within the field, he’s eager to gain both academic and industry experience during his time at Virginia Tech as an agribusiness major.

“The secret is getting paid for something you enjoy,” said Franklin Showalter, John Showalter’s father.
“My hope is that John gets the skillset he needs to find a job that he enjoys and can use to make a living. I found the secret with the help of this department. Now I hope my son can do the same.”

Franklin Showalter never pushed his two sons toward agriculture as a career, but his positive stories about the department – memories of being challenged by Professor Leon Geyer, making friends within the agriculture fraternity, and meeting his wife of 23 years – along with getting his sons, John and Kyle, to help on his hobby farm, has had an impact.

John Showalter, the older of the Showalter boys, is quick to provide details about the farm he grew up on, which is now home to 50 head of cattle, as well as almost 100 extra acres for hay production. And although he played a role in helping with the operation, he’s not concerned about leaving a void when he departs for his four-year college journey next month. In fact, he is already giving orders to his younger brother on how to keep things running while he’s away.

“We want John to be fully present here to find what he really likes and doesn’t like,” said Tina Showalter, John Showalter’s mother. “Our whole experience here was invaluable – the classes and the people, from professors to peers, and grad students.”

The Showalter family is excited to see how their son develops over the next four years and to hear the stories he picks up from classes, extracurricular activities, and living in the dorms. And while they love to share their own Hokie love story, they’ve made it clear that a love story is not one John has to pursue as well. Their advice to their son is to simply learn, listen, and enjoy.