There is no mistaking that Jack Walker, Dartmouth ‘22, is from the South. From his immaculate manners to his accent that seems to have gotten much thicker since the beginning of quarantine, his home values shine through the very first time you speak with him. Jack grew up in rural Kentucky on a row crop farm and has since found his way back to his roots. He has been spending his time since early March helping his dad with a small self-sustaining farming project. This project has given Jack purpose and respite throughout the pandemic. In his own words they “went big” this year with rows of crops, beehives, rainwater collection systems and more. Any moment he isn’t out working on the farm he is researching and planning their next steps.
This small farm in rural Kentucky is worlds away from Jack’s winter interning on Capitol Hill. Jack says he learned a lot from his time in DC about making change through legislation and broad sweeping initiatives, but he does not see himself doing that long term. While he understands that that kind of action is needed, he also knows the importance of focusing on one small problem and personally seeing it all the way through. That is something he is able to see on his farm every day and the sense of accomplishment it brings is something that he cherishes.
Jack loves where he comes from, but he also describes it as “disconnected” from a lot of larger issues going on in the country. While this can sometimes feel like an escape, it also means that going to Dartmouth, and finding the sustainability office, was the most revolutionary thing to ever happen to him. The town Jack is from is an area where farming is important but “sustainability isn’t really something you talk about.” The Sustainability Office, and more specifically the EcoReps program, introduced him to people who “opened his eyes to worlds he had never seen.” He realized that these worlds could help the people he loved back home and for the first time he was in an environment where people agreed with his passions and points of view but also pushed him to always be exploring new ideas. Jack understands the farmers back home who are forced to use unsustainable practices to feed their families, but he also surrounds himself with people who are trying to find ways to help these farmers change their systems. By connecting his roots to his new growth Jack hopes to grow a better and more sustainable future.