INDIANAPOLIS — Since third grade, Chrysta Beck of Archbold, Ohio, has raised broilers and layers to sell meat and egg products to local customers. As she got older and joined FFA, she developed a supervised agricultural experience that would look into the health of poultry. But what started as research to assist her with personal production goals soon developed into a project with a vastly larger scope. It focused on U.S. and global poultry production and welfare.
Beck’s work began when she was in ninth grade and started looking closely into broiler production factors and exactly how the birds grew. She also learned how to determine meat quality. By her senior year, Beck was investigating alternative methods for replacing antibiotics.
“I was looking into the gut health of the chick,” Beck said. “I was looking into the microbiology of chickens and doing probiotic research.”
In her lab trials, Beck has been testing different types of bacteria to determine their viability. Through in ovo technology, a probiotic is injected into a developing embryo prior to it having any contact with harmful bacteria in the external environment. This allows the chicken’s gut to contain beneficial bacteria when it hatches, rather than being subjected to harmful bacteria after hatching.
“In theory, the harmful bacteria doesn’t have the opportunity to inhabit the broilers’ gastrointestinal tract, since a beneficial bacteria is already there,” Beck said. “I want to help the bird from Day One to have an extra boost.”
Beck said that from her work over the past six years she is discovering the future of the poultry industry and conducting studies she has only dreamed of. “It’s important that we have this research so we can understand the future of this industry,” she adds.
This research has earned her top honors as she has been named a 2017 American Star in Agriscience.
Beck is currently studying at Mississippi State University and plans to return to the industry as a poultry vet. She credits her advisor and FFA Alumni for helping her and inspiring her interest. “FFA helped me with leadership skills and public speaking,” Beck said. “It was very beneficial.”
For those looking to pursue an SAE, she offered the following advice: “Do not be afraid to try something different. Do not be afraid to stand out, even though it may be a little uncomfortable at the time.”
Beck is the daughter of Beth Ann and David. She is a member of the Pettisville FFA Chapter, led by advisor John Poulson.
About the American Star Awards
Each year at the National FFA Convention & Expo, four FFA members are honored with American Star Awards for outstanding accomplishments in FFA and agricultural education.
The American Star Awards, including American Star Farmer, American Star in Agribusiness, American Star in Agricultural Placement and American Star in Agriscience, are presented to FFA members who demonstrate outstanding agricultural skills and competencies through completion of an SAE. A required activity in FFA, an SAE allows students to learn by doing, by either owning or operating an agricultural business, working or serving an internship at an agriculture-based business or conducting an agriculture-based scientific experiment and reporting results.
Other requirements to achieve the award include demonstrating top management skills; completing key agricultural education, scholastic and leadership requirements; and earning an American FFA Degree, the organization’s highest level of student accomplishment.
Sixteen American Star Award finalists from throughout the U.S. are nominated by a panel of judges who then interview the finalists during the national convention and expo. Four are named winners and receive cash awards totaling $4,000. All American Star finalists receive a $2,000 cash award. Case IH, Elanco Animal Health and Syngenta sponsor the awards.
Judging occurred in Indianapolis during the 90th National FFA Convention & Expo with the winners being announced during an onstage ceremony.
The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 653,359 student members who belong to one of 8,568 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization is also supported by 344,239 alumni members in 2,051 alumni chapters throughout the U.S.
— National FFA Organization