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Matthew Hamer of Woodbine, N.J., is this year’s recipient of the $5,000 National Future Farmers of America Collegiate Scholarship, funded by the National Wild Turkey Federation.

WOODBINE, N.J. — Growing up in rural New Jersey afforded Matthew Hamer plenty of opportunities to spend time in the outdoors, and instilled in him a true appreciation for nature.

So it’s quite fitting that Hamer is this year’s recipient of the $5,000 National Future Farmers of America Collegiate Scholarship, funded by the National Wild Turkey Federation.

As a student at Cape May County Technical High School, Hamer earned a 4.0 grade point average while serving as captain of his school’s cross-country team, participating in the National Honor Society and working with the FFA.

“Participating in Future Farmers has been one of the most memorable parts of my high school career,” Hamer said. “Through my work with the organization, I have learned about career opportunities available in the natural resources field and have made friends that I would not have known otherwise.”

Hamer is an avid hunter who hopes to work for a state or federal natural resource agency one day. He plans to attend Paul Smith’s College in New York, where he will major in wildlife management and plans to become a wildlife biologist. Hamer wants to help improve the environment and increase awareness about the outdoors and conservation.

“Hunting has allowed me to get outside with my family and view nature as it is, from early sunrises to wildlife moving through the woods, which are things most people will never see” Hamer said. “Work isn’t worth doing unless it is a passion, and the outdoors is my passion. Becoming a wildlife biologist is the best way for me to combine my love of hunting and my love for the outdoors.”

Hamer recently returned from the New Jersey State FFA Convention, where he received the Star AgriScience Award and won first place in the state for an environmental and natural resources Career Development Event. He also has earned college scholarships in addition to the $5,000 he received from the NWTF through the FFA.

“We support college-bound students who are hunters and show leadership in their communities,” said Christine Rolka, NWTF education director. “We do this through the FFA and through our own scholarship program.”

To be eligible for the $5,000 scholarship, applicants must be a current FFA member, support hunting, have strong leadership skills and high academic achievements. Over the past nine years, the NWTF has given more than $55,000 in scholarships through the FFA, and nearly $2.2 million in scholarships overall.

In addition to the scholarship, the NWTF partners with the FFA as an exhibitor at the FFA National Agriculture Career Show – the FFA’s annual convention – and as a judge for the National Wildlife Management event.

“The NWTF and the FFA have a terrific partnership,” Rolka said. “We both want to make a positive difference in students’ lives through agriculture and conservation education.”