Blaze grew up on a cotton, peanut, and watermelon farm in west Texas. Agricultural Leadership Education has been a passion for Blaze since high school. After graduating from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Leadership, Blaze put his studies to practice in the United States and across the globe.
Blaze worked with young farmers in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2008. Following that, he came back to the U.S. and managed leadership programs and FFA officer teams for both the Texas FFA Association and the National FFA Association. In 2013, he and his friend established a non-profit organization called AgriCorps to build Agricultural Education in Africa. Before beginning his graduate program at the University of Illinois, Blaze spent 9 months in Ghana, West Africa, managing a team of agriculture volunteers who served as 4-H advisors and agriculture teachers.
His favorite part of Agricultural Leadership Education is the impact he believes it makes on the world. “Farmers around the world are aging. Two things are critical to feeding the 10 billion people who will inhabit this world before the population stabilizes. First, we will need a new generation of farmers; young people who see farming and food production as a science and a business, not as peasant work. Second, this new generation of farmers will have to produce more food utilizing fewer resources and in a sustainable way. As Norman Borlaug said, 'we will need a generation of hunger fighters'.”
His advice to students is: “Remember to grow. Growth isn’t easy. It means deepening your roots while also reaching higher. It requires the conversion of light to energy. When we grow, we know we are alive. Don’t be afraid of growth; embrace it.”