Rachel Penley may not be your typical high school senior. While most girls would probably like frills and thrills and all the pretty’s that come with it, Penley would much rather spend her time patrolling the family barnyard.
Penley is a senior at Bland County High School and has put together an impressive resume throughout her high school years as a member of the school Agriculture Club. Upon graduation this coming year, she plans to further her education at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.
She has been elected as the Appalachian Area FFA president as well as the Bland County FFA president for the 2021-22 school year. She was also the chapter president for the 2020-21 school year and Vice-President the year before as a sophomore.
She is currently the president of the Virginia Junior Simmental Association and of the Wythe County 4-H Livestock Club while being a member of both the Bland County 4-H Club and the Bland County 4-H Livestock Club.
Penley has been actively involved in agriculture since a very young age. She grew up on her family’s Simmental operation and has been showing cows for the past 10 years while judging livestock competitively for the past five years.
“She has been a dominant force in east coast FFA and livestock judging,” Bland County Principal Tyler Eastep stated via email. “I grew up judging and showing livestock competitively around the country and I can tell you that Rachel Penley is the real deal. But what makes her great is you’d never know she’s at the top of her game. She’s so humble and grateful just to be a part of it.”
Penley won the Virginia State Livestock Judging Contest in 2018 and the Georgia National Livestock Judging Contest, also in 2018. Additionally, she was the 2019 winner of the Southeastern Three Regional Livestock Judging Contest. Her travels have taken her to west to Wyoming and South Dakota and neighboring states to judge livestock.
Penley’s future plans include attending Virginia Tech next fall with hopes of judging collegiately. Additional plans include obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal and Poultry Sciences before attending veterinary school where she will specialize on bovine reproduction and physiology.