April 18, 2013
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Award winner milks all he can from Purdue career

Jackson Troxel
Jackson Troxel has been involved in so many organizations during his four years at Purdue that it seems like there is more than one of him on campus.
(Purdue Agricultural Communication photo illustration by Tom Campbell/Dan Annarino)

By Tom Campbell

Jackson Troxel, the 2013 recipient of the France A. Córdova Leadership Award, learned the value of getting good grades and saving money at an early age.

“When I was in first grade, I started saving money for college,” said Troxel, who was raised on a 130-head dairy farm in northern Indiana.

Jackson Troxel milking cow
By age 4, Troxel was helping his dad, Tom, milk the family dairy herd on their northern Indiana farm. (Photo provided)

“My milking performance would be graded. I would get $5 for an A, $4 for a B and so on.” Troxel didn’t get many B’s back then. And he hasn’t gotten many during his Purdue career, either.

He will graduate in May with a 3.82 grade-point average in agricultural economics, an associate degree in agronomy and minors in Spanish, agricultural systems management and farm management.

The award, established in 2012, honors graduating students who have demonstrated exceptional leadership during their Purdue careers. The students must have held successful leadership roles at Purdue, working in partnership with staff and faculty to move the university forward while maintaining a minimum 3.0 grade-point average.

“Jackson’s combination of academic talent, leadership skills, and his passion for service epitomize the qualities, including excellence and character, that we want in a Purdue Agriculture undergraduate,” said Jay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture.

The list of Troxel’s collegiate accomplishments is lengthy. And while it reveals a near-perfect academic index, that may be the least impressive part. It is a tribute to how much one person can accomplish in four years, providing sleep is not a high priority.

Jackson Troxel riding tractor with Dad
Troxel's dream is to return to the family farm to work side-by-side with his father, just like in this family photo taken when Troxel was 7. (Photo provided)

A Purdue degree requires 120 credit hours. Troxel will leave Purdue with 180, enough for another half-degree.

How he managed to accomplish so much in a four-year window, even Troxel is not sure of. But sleep deprivation may be a factor.

“I sleep 4 to 6 hours a night. That’s not too bad, is it? Someone told me I could always catch up on my sleep later, right?”

Troxel has been a leader dating back to his days at LaCrosse (Ind.) High School, where he was class president for four years.

The last three years Troxel ran unopposed for class president. No one in his high school saw any point to running against him.

“I always want to better myself in everything I do,” Troxel said.

April showers may bring May flowers, but around the College of Agriculture campus, they are a harbinger of the awards season, too. The next ConnectionsNow! posting on Tuesday, April 23, will feature a look at the top student in each class in the college as well as the winners of the Team Award for 2013.

For as long as he can remember, Troxel’s goal hasn’t changed. Everything he has done is directed toward the singular purpose of making himself the best possible asset he can for that day when he returns to the family farm to begin the next phase of his life.

“I want to give myself a different skill set than my dad and my brother have before I go back to work on the family farm with them. When I took all of those classes, people would look at me like I’m crazy, and sometimes I wondered if it was all worth it,” Troxel said.

“But there were so many things to learn, classes that I thought were interesting to me and that I wanted to be exposed to.”

On minoring in agricultural systems management, Troxel said, “I don’t know much about machinery. That is one of my weakest areas. I wanted to learn more about it, so I minored in it.”

On minoring in Spanish, a language he used during trips to Mexico and Costa Rica, he noted, “Who knows if it will ever come in handy on the farm? I just fell in love with the language.”

Troxel is even taking golf this semester, but not just to fill time or get an easy grade.

“I’m horrible at golf,” Troxel said. “But golf is like a business course. There are a lot of business deals made on a golf course.”

Jackson Troxel with France Cordova
As a freshman, Troxel was part of then-President France A. Córdova’s presidential leadership class. Now three years later, Troxel has earned the France A. Córdova Leadership Award.  (Photo provided)

Then there are the leadership roles that Troxel has pursued at Purdue. As a freshman, Troxel was selected to participate in the President’s Leadership Class, a program limited to 30 of the top first-year students at Purdue.

As a senior, he was a member of the Agriculture Future of America Student Advisory Team, an experience he calls “the most elite and rewarding leadership experience of my collegiate career.”

In between, he has been involved with too many organizations to count.

“This year I have been involved in six different organizations outside the classroom, and I have leadership roles in four of them,” Troxel said. “I’ve just always wanted to make the most out of what I’ve been given. I feel that I’ve been blessed with so much – great parents and a great family – all around,” said Troxel, the youngest of four boys.

“I feel I was blessed to be able to grow up on a farm. My parents exposed me to responsibilities at a very early age, which is a huge reason I am where I am today. To be able to grow up on a farm, I feel like I have won the lottery.”

The leadership award carries a cash prize of $2,300, a nice addition to the 12 scholarships he earned during his Purdue career.

Before returning to the family farm, Troxel will participate in the Orr Fellowship, a two-year entrepreneurial program limited to 35 college graduates of Indiana colleges. He will work for Slane Capital Partners, a venture capital company based in Noblesville.

Although Slane Capital isn’t directly connected to the agriculture industry, Troxel hopes he will learn skills there that help him become more skilled at making the family farm profitable.

“I think it will teach me a ton about small business development and financing, things I have no idea about. It’s a great way for me to think about starting my own company back home someday. I’m just trying to make the most of the God-given talents I have been blessed with.”


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