INDIANAPOLIS — Seventeen winners of the 2020 Agricultural Proficiency Awards were named during the 93rd National FFA Convention & Expo on Tuesday, Oct. 27, which is being held virtually this year.
Agricultural Proficiency Awards honor FFA members who, through supervised agricultural experiences (SAEs), have developed specialized skills that they can apply toward their future careers. Students compete in areas ranging from agricultural communications to wildlife management. Proficiency awards are also recognized at local and state levels and provide recognition to members exploring and becoming established in agricultural career pathways.
On Tuesday, awards were announced for 17 of the 45 categories during the first and second general convention sessions.
Agricultural Communications– Entrepreneurship/Placement
William Joseph Gaspard
After his seventh grade Introduction to Agriscience class, William Joseph Gaspard of the Louisiana School for the Agricultural Science FFA Chapter in Louisiana felt like he was awakened to the importance of agriculture. He decided to write a small column for the local newspaper about what he had learned. This led to working with his local Farm Bureau agent. He began writing blogs and making videos for their social media platforms. Gaspard eventually became an intern for the Louisiana Farm Bureau Public Relations and Information Department. He spends 20 to 30 hours each week producing written and visual content. He is supported by his parents, Monique and William, and his FFA advisors, Summer Anderson and Ward Bordelon. Bader Rutter and Red Brand sponsor this proficiency.
Agricultural Education – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Madison Alivia Taylor
Since she began high school, Madison Alivia Taylor of the Newton College & Career Academy FFA Chapter in Georgia has known that she wanted to be an agriculture educator. Encouraged by her FFA advisor, she has focused on early childhood agricultural education. She has shadowed elementary school teachers, helped develop agricultural-based lessons, created an agriculture literacy program that has been adopted by all 14 elementary schools in her community and assisted in planning livestock shows. Taylor has also attended teacher conferences hosted by her local Farm Bureau. She is supported by her parents, Lee-Ann and Tim, and her FFA advisors, Cecily Gunter and Marcus Pollard. The James F. Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation sponsors this proficiency.
Agricultural Mechanics Design and Fabrication – Entrepreneurship/Placement
In California, Cole Marchy of the Turlock FFA Chapter in California was only nine years old when he was introduced to welding and fabricating on the family farm. Just two years later, he began to learn the art basics, and his first project being fabricating and constructing a top rail with cable fencing for his show animals. Since learning skills like arc welding and MIG welding and advanced cutting techniques, Marchy has fabricated an ATV hydraulic dump trailer and a 34- foot tilt trailer. He is supported by his parents, Lori and Bob, and his FFA advisors, Randee Prada-Vitorino, Joe DiGrazia, Anton Fernandes, Chad Booth and Alexandra Hahlbeck. Lincoln Electric sponsors this proficiency.
Agricultural Mechanics Repair and Maintenance – Entrepreneurship
Terrance Crayton of the Wetumpka FFA Chapter in Alabama owns a small engine repair service in which he repairs four-cycle and two-cycle engines on agricultural equipment. He utilizes Facebook Marketplace and classified ads to find and sell equipment. He also receives donations of unusable equipment from people in his community. He routinely repairs string trimmers, tillers, lawnmowers, and other equipment by replacing spark plugs, rebuilding carburetors, replacing coils, replacing piston rings and rod bearings, and more. Crayton is supported by his father, Terrance, and his FFA advisors, William Norris and Keith Lucy. Kubota and Mystik Lubricants sponsor this proficiency.
Agricultural Mechanics Repair and Maintenance – Placement
Lane Douglas of the Screven County FFA Chapter in Georgia has worked for Wammock Milling Company, SmithCo Heavy Diesel Service and Yancey Caterpillar. His duties include maintaining the mill’s equipment, including payloaders used to move the feed commodities in the feed mixer and the trucks used to haul the feed to customers. The other positions allow him to repair heavy diesel equipment, including tractors and 18-wheelers, and repair Caterpillar equipment such as bulldozers, excavators, and forestry equipment. Douglas is supported by his parents, Brandy and Dick, and his FFA advisors, Nancy Sell, Cali Smith, and Zach Weaver. Tractor Supply Company sponsors this proficiency.
Agricultural Processing – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Creed Ammons of the Tyler FFA Chapter in West Virginia started his entrepreneurship ham and bacon curing and processed retail pork supervised agricultural experiences as a freshman. He also raises and processes fresh holiday turkeys, meeting a large demand in his community. He uses a facility at his school’s agricultural education program at no cost, including a walk-in cooler, band saw, curing room, drying room, smoker, grinder, meat mixer, and vacuum sealer. Ammons is supported by his parents, Deanna and Leon, and his FFA advisors, Leon Ammons and Annie Hall Erwin. The National FFA Foundation and the National FFA Organization sponsor this proficiency.
Agricultural Sales – Entrepreneurship
Alyssa Loredo of the Merced FFA Chapter in California has a supervised agricultural experience named Wild Game Jerky, involving the sale and marketing of domesticated and exotic animal jerky products. The business began small, with her setting up booths at local events like county fairs and industry festivals. Today, Loredo has an Amazon online storefront, in addition to expanding her sales throughout California and Nevada. She currently has more than 30 types of jerky, ranging from alligator to bison, and even ostrich. She is supported by her mother, Justina, and her FFA advisors, Steve Mua, Nicole Cecil, Karl Montague, Lesley Zorra, Julia Brewer and Stefanie Kuhr. Nutrien Solutions and Valent USA Corporation sponsor this proficiency.
Agricultural Sales – Placement
Austin Timmerman of the Versailles FFA Chapter in Ohio has a job placement at Superior Implement and Supply Company, a wholesale distributor of farm, lawn, and garden equipment through Ohio, Indiana, New York, and Pennsylvania. His responsibilities have grown from shipping, filling orders, mowing/landscaping, and stocking inventory to utilizing software to inventory stock, testing new equipment, and customer service. Timmerman is supported by his parents, Barb and Gary, and his FFA advisors, Dena Wuebker and Taylor Bergman. Cargill and Fastenal sponsor this proficiency.
Agricultural Services – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Cason Love of the Stephenville FFA Chapter in Texas works for a custom hay baling company. The operation involves providing the agricultural services of cutting, baling and hauling hay for customers. In all, the operation performs custom hay on roughly 1,200 acres. His duties include hauling equipment, cutting hay and running the tractor with the baler. The operation consists primarily of baling 1,000 to 1,200-pound round bales of coastal Bermuda grass hay. Love is supported by his parents, Jennifer and Robert, and his FFA advisors, Ryan Best, Savannah Bowers, Brock Burch, and Jordan Smith. The National FFA Foundation and the National FFA Organization sponsor this proficiency.
Agriscience Research – Animal Systems
Hunter Eide of the Gettysburg FFA Chapter in South Dakota has conducted four research projects built around state fisheries production challenges. He investigated how iodine affects the mortality of salmon eggs. He collected and fertilized the eggs and stored them in four different iodine concentrations. His research was published in 2018 and 2019 and implemented by the fisheries industry in 2019. Eide is supported by his parents, Gerri and Shon, and his FFA advisors, Gerri Eide, Lucas Eide, and Mercedes Lemke. Zoetis sponsors this proficiency.
Agriscience Research – Integrated Systems
Paige Stuber of the Academy for Sciences & Agriculture FFA Chapter in Minnesota was in the ninth grade when she developed her first research project using milk. She compared casin bioplastic engineered from cow’s and goat’s milk and determined that cow’s milk provided the greatest yield. For another project, she evaluated consumers’ level of confusion and preference regarding the marketing of dairy milk and nondairy milk alternatives. Stuber is supported by her mother, Sharyl, and her FFA advisors, Jordan Pollock, Samantha Norden, Haely Leiding, and Kathleen Crowley. The National FFA Foundation and the National FFA Organization sponsor this proficiency.
Agriscience Research – Plant Systems
Cayden Hall Mathews
Cayden Hall Mathews of the Lowndes High FFA Chapter in Georgia conducted his project over three years; the project consisted of three experiments. He solved an agricultural problem using the scientific method by demonstrating that Cool Terra, a bio char-based soil amendment, can increase soil microbe activity, crop yields, and plant production. Mathews hopes that this work will help him pursue his desired career as a doctor of veterinary medicine. He is supported by his parents, Debbie and Chris, and his FFA advisors, James Corbett, Quinton Hadsock, and Anglia Crosby. The National FFA Foundation and the National FFA Organization sponsor this proficiency.
Beef Production – Entrepreneurship
Hunter Aue of the Merced-Golden Valley FFA Chapter in California raises, breeds and sells bucking bulls. He grew up going with his parents to the feedlot to feed the cattle and developed a passion for it. His project began in 2008, and by high school, the bulls he produced were becoming competitive at Professional Bull Rider (PBR) events across the Western and Midwestern United States. He currently has 105 head of Brahman-influenced cows and nine bulls that are active in PBR events. Aue also has eight bulls that have competed in the PBR World Finals in Las Vegas. He is supported by his parents, Kelley and Doug, and his FFA advisors, Rebecca Mendonza, Cody Jacobsen, Corey Mesa, John Olson, and Vikki Davis. Merck Animal Health and Rabo-AgriFinance sponsor this proficiency.
Beef Production – Placement
Emma Victery of the Chickasha FFA Chapter in Oklahoma works for her family farm—a seed stock, commercial cow-calf and stocker operation spanning nearly 2,000 acres. Her responsibilities initially included feeding stocker calves, helping vaccinate and deworm the animals, moving cattle from field to field, and providing basic husbandry skills. Today, she makes breeding decisions on the farm’s seed stock, helps cut and bale hay, and markets their Igenity-tested bulls for commercial cattlemen. Victery plans to take over the operation’s advertisement responsibilities by the end of her senior year. She is supported by her parents, Amy and Clark, and her FFA advisors, Emily Schmidt and Kolby Schmidt. Zoetis sponsors this proficiency.
Dairy Production – Entrepreneurship
Octavia Elizabeth Bushey
Octavia Elizabeth Bushey of the Gilmer County FFA Chapter in Georgia purchased her first commercial heifer calf in July 2015 and her first registered red and white Holstein in August 2016. She now has a herd of 20 dairy cattle. Through her supervised agricultural experience (SAE), she has learned how to evaluate then select appropriate sires for each of her heifers. By implementing high-quality bulls and genetic advancements, Bushey can maintain and produce a strong herd. She is supported by her parents, Terri and Michael, and her FFA advisors, David Bushey, Claire Woodard, and Mike Bushey. New Holland sponsors this proficiency.
Dairy Production – Placement
Caleb Peckham of the Killingly FFA Chapter in Connecticut is a seventh-generation dairy farmer. His family farm consists of 150 milking cows, made up of Holsteins and Jerseys. In recent years, the farm also began to bottle their milk by opening a retail farm store, causing Peckham to take on extra responsibilities. Peckham is supported by his parents, Chrissy and Matthew, and his FFA advisors, Bethany Knowlton, Bonnie Kegler, Calvin Brodersen, Rebecca Pond, and Courtney Cardinal. Kuhn North American sponsors this proficiency.
Diversified Agricultural Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Lane Griffin of the Howe FFA Chapter in Texas works for his father’s farm and Rocking G Cattle Company. Griffin Farms is an 11,500-acre operation producing grain, oil and fiber crops. The cattle company is a 1,300-head cattle production operation. On the family farm, he helps to grow 2,000 acres of wheat, 5,500 acres of corn, 1,000 acres of cotton, 1,000 acres of soybeans and 2,000 acres of forage. Griffin is supported by his parents, Debby and Kenneth, and his FFA advisors, Ronald Blum and Tracy Blum. The National FFA Foundation and the National FFA Organization sponsors this proficiency.
Stay tuned for more proficiency award winners, announced on RFD-TV, The Cowboy Channel and streamed live on FFA.org. The 93rd National FFA Convention & Expo is being held virtually this year, Oct. 27-29. For more information, visit Convention.FFA.org.
The National FFA Organization is a school-based national youth leadership development organization of more than 760,000 student members as part of 8,700 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
–National FFA Organization
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