By: Lani Hansen, Senior Reporter
CHECOTAH, Oklahoma– The National FFA highlights Muscogee (Creek) citizen Ridge Howell on his works to protect Native Sovereignty.
Howell, grew up on a cattle farm in Checotah with his family. He graduated from Checotah High School, continuing his education at Oklahoma State University. There he received his bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in History. After completing his undergrad at OSU, he then went to the University of Oklahoma-College of Law graduating in May 2020.
Howell then accepted a position at a law firm in Tulsa that focuses on protecting and enhancing Native American sovereignty. Howell credits his foundation in the FFA and the opportunities that helped him shape his future.
In his senior year of high school, Howell was connected to a grant program through the USDA. This grant allowed him and his Ag teacher Jason McPeak to start a community garden.
“Along with that and some other things at the time I got a little attention from the National FFA,” Howell said. “They published a story about me and Jason on the community garden we started and other stuff we have been doing.”
The State and National FFA covered him in their FFA news relations magazine during the summer of 2013. They covered him on the community garden and for receiving the White House Champion of Change in 2012. This award goes out to community service change makers in 4-H and FFA.
“I was one of six highlighted in that,” Howell added about the award.
The recent article from FFA is following up on what he has been working on since they last spoke with him. Howell’s passionate towards FFA are leads from Jason McPeak his Ag teach in high school, and Janie Hipp who was CEO of the Native American Agriculture Fund and USDA National Program Leader.
“They’ve been mentors for me, even in law school I was a policy fellow for her (Hipp) of the Indigenous Food and Ag Initiative at the University of Arkansas-College of Law,” Howell said.
Howell ended up leaving the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative after a few months and began working at the law firm he is at now. He works for a Native American law firm that focuses on all aspects of tribal sovereignty and protecting it.
“That’s important to me as a tribal member but also, being educated throughout high school and undergrad on tribal related issues even in law school,” Howell stated on learning about tribal sovereignty.
While working in this field, Howell hopes to litigate cases in the courtroom. The article stated, ‘Howell believes FFA prepared him for the rigors of law school, a demanding legal career and a future arguing cases in front of juries.’
Outside of work, Howell maintains a herd of cattle in his hometown and is planning to be an active member of the local FFA alumni and supporters chapter. He hopes to share his passion and help upcoming FFA members maintain a connection to the land, according to the FFA article. Howell also stated he was thankful for all the people who helped him along the way towards his career.