2018 has been a banner year for Kelli and Raymond Wilson of Burkittsville, Maryland.
In the spring, they celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary, and soon they will watch their son Jack begin the same journey they began in the 1980s – a journey involving a small-town high school graduate and the Virginia Tech Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics.
Their son Jack Wilson will join the department as an agribusiness major this month.
“Virginia Tech has always been in my blood,” said Jack Wilson. “My parents are both ag econ alumni, and they both love what they do – my mom is a farm credit loan officer and my dad works in lumber sales. I could see myself in either one of their positions.”
Kelli and Raymond Wilson, who met three decades ago in that the same department, both use their AAEC degrees daily, but their fondness for the department goes beyond the skills they picked up in class.
“The accessibility of the professors really added to the experience outside the classroom,” said Raymond Wilson, who, throughout his undergraduate years, spent hours each day in Hutcheson Hall working on research projects with professors. “It was amazing to interact with them. My education in ag econ made me a better thinker and more open minded.”
And while Jack Wilson was never pressured into following in his parents footsteps, when he decided he wanted to pursue agriculture, Virginia Tech’s program was the obvious choice.
“I always thought my parents were a little biased when they told me that Virginia Tech had the best ag program, but I’ve learned that it’s actually really true,” Jack Wilson said. “I’m lucky to be in that program now. And I feel very at home.”
Growing up on a farm with his grandparents in the house across the field and his uncle in another property on the 360-acre lot, Jack Wilson has always known agriculture, and Virginia Tech, as home.
“Our basement is totally a Hokie fan cave,” said Jack Wilson. “It’s decked out with flags and banners. It’s a pretty crazy sight. There’s at least 100 different Virginia Tech items down there.”
And after 18 years of watching Virginia Tech football games on television and hearing stories of goofy advisors, engaging classes, and unforgettable memories, Jack Wilson is jazzed about following in his parents’ footsteps.
“Besides having some of the best teaching available, the experiences [the department] provides are highly ranked,” said Jack Wilson. “I’m hoping to gain a lot of connections to the business world and to make some friendships along the way as it’s a very tight-knit department.”
His parents also have high hopes for their son as he enters college.
“I’m tickled – very excited that Jack has chosen ag econ at Virginia Tech,” said Kelli Wilson. “It’s a great excuse to be back on campus, and we’re really excited for him. I just think he will flourish at AAEC.”
Jack Wilson takes after his parents in being an involved student and community member. He, like his mom, participated in the Brunswick High School chapter of Future Farmers of America and served as its treasurer, secretary, and finally president.
He is now looking forward to becoming an involved student at Virginia Tech.
“I feel like I’m following up on a legacy,” Jack Wilson said. “Not a lot of kids can say they went to the school their parents went to. And especially, not a lot of kids can say they went through the same major. It’s a really cool experience that I’ll want to pass down. I want to have a crazy basement one day and pass that along too.”