INDIANAPOLIS — Twenty-eight of the 2020 Agricultural Proficiency winners were named during the 93rd National FFA Convention & Expo on Wednesday, Oct. 28, and Thursday Oct. 29, 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 complete 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.
Awards were announced for 28 of the 45 categories during the third, fourth and fifth general convention sessions. Those recipients were:
Diversified Crop Production – Entrepreneurship
Jacob Daniel Dierking
Jacob Daniel Dierking of the Santa Fe FFA Chapter in Missouri began renting land from two neighboring landowners in 2015. He started with 29 acres but has grown to 122 acres in recent years. He has grown sweet corn, green beans, yellow corn, and soybeans. Dierking networks with local businesses, landowners and other farmers to grow and diversify his operation. He is supported by his parents, Marla and Joel, and his FFA advisor, Martha Schreiman. The National FFA Foundation and Organization sponsor this proficiency.
Diversified Crop Production – Placement
Nathan Randy Kroeger
Nathan Randy Kroeger of the Carroll Area FFA Chapter in Iowa works for his family’s crop farm and grain hauling business. He is tasked with completing all corn and soybean crop production jobs, from planting and harvesting to tillage and application of fertilizer, fungicide, insecticide, and pesticide. The operation consists of 1,800 acres of soybeans and 6,000 acres of corn. They utilize a continuous flow grain dryer system and 36 grain bins to store more than one million bushels. Kroeger is supported by his parents, Michelle and Kevin, and his FFA advisor, Brady Eischeid. AgReliant Genetics and CHS Foundation sponsor this proficiency.
Diversified Horticulture – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Kaylie Nicole Roberts
Kaylie Nicole Roberts of the Tift County FFA Chapter in Georgia began a home landscaping project using flower beds and gerbera daisies when she was in middle school, igniting her passion for the art. She then began volunteering after school to work in her school greenhouse watering plants. Eventually, Roberts began collecting floriculture and nursery landscape plants to make floral arrangements on her own. She’s added the propagation of blackberry, strawberry, cabbage and marigold seedlings, as well. She is supported by her parents, Catherine and Russel, and her FFA advisors Lynne Cook, Brittaney Schwing, Heath Cross and Carl Nichols. The Toro Company sponsors this proficiency.
Diversified Livestock Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Cory Yarbrough of the Madison County FFA Chapter in Georgia is busy managing his family’s cattle herd, raising market hogs for his uncle, and working as a research assistant at the University of Georgia Poultry Science Department. He began managing the 75-head cattle operation as a seventh-grader. Over time, he increased the herd to 275-head of breeding stock, heifers, and calves, as well as established an identification system and means to maintain records. He began raising the hogs in 2016. As a paid poultry research assistant, he maintains the nutritional needs of broiler breeders whole also charged with waste management, semen collection and processing, and artificially inseminating hens. Yarbrough is supported by his parents, Melissa and Jimmy, and his FFA advisors, Kalie Hall Blevins, Kathrine Bell, Cindy Jones and Josh Daniel. Bekaert Corporation and Tractor Supply Company sponsor this proficiency.
Environmental Science and Natural Resources – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Spencer Stephens of the Merced – Golden Valley FFA Chapter in California was ten years old when he began working for his family’s business, SS Blue Diesel Exhaust Fluid. His work focuses specifically on the cleaning and maintaining of the facilities. The fluid is a combination of deionized water and urea, which, when combined, is used in all new tractors, trucks, and other agriculturally-related equipment, reducing carbon emissions in the air because it removes nitrous oxide. Stephens is supported by his parents, Nicole and Trevor, and his FFA advisors, Rebecca Mendonza, Vikki David, Cody Jacobsen, Corey Mesa and John Olson. CHS Foundation sponsors this proficiency.
Equine Science – Entrepreneurship
Ashlyn Mohling of the Adams Central FFA Chapter in Nebraska has been caring for and riding horses since a young age. She cares for five horses for her equine project, ensuring both their health and safety so they can perform. Throughout the year, she shows her horses at local, state and breed show levels in all different disciplines from Western to English classes. Mohling also teaches special needs children how to brush a horse, interact with a horse, and employs therapeutic riding for children age eight to eighteen. She is supported by her parents, Heather and Brett, and her FFA advisor, Brandon Jacobitz. Zoetis and Red Brand sponsor this proficiency.
Equine Science – Placement
Deyvet Carbajal of the Madera FFA Chapter in California is the main ranch hand at his family ranch, where he cares for all the horses and trains the horses to dance. The ranch specializes in breeding and raising Friesian and Azteca horses whose original stock was imported from Holland, Guadalajara, Jalisco, and Mexico City in Mexico. The horses are all taught the art of “dancing” to perform in charreria competitions across California and Mexico. The ranch currently has nine stallions used to perform and three mares used in the breeding program. Carbajal is supported by his parents, Irma and Martin, and his FFA advisors, Julie Luxon, Cory Withers, Brianna Ellis, Hannah Bianchi, Kristin Sheehan, Crystal Luera and Brent Geor. Tractor Supply Company sponsors this proficiency.
Fiber and/or Oil Crop Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Peter Bliss of the Merced – Golden Valley FFA Chapter in California remembers sitting in his father’s lap when he was three years old, raking hay and cultivating cotton fields. By the time he entered the sixth grade, he was operating tractors and harvesters while growing and harvesting cotton. Once he started high school, he had inherited thirty acres of open ground to plant his own cotton. Today, he grows on 182 acres and manages all field preparation, irrigation, planting, chemical application, and Acala cotton harvesting. Bliss is supported by his parents, Jeannie and Michael, and his FFA advisors, Vikki Davis, Cody Jacobsen, Rebecca Mendonza Corey Mesa, and John Olson. Bunge North America sponsors this proficiency.
Forage Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Mallory White of the Union County FFA Chapter in Kentucky works in forage production on her family farm. Forages grown on the operation include cereal rye, fescue, orchard grass, red clover, and ladino clover. It is primarily used for feed for the cow/calf beef cattle aspect of the farm. Her responsibilities include performing all production activities, such as cutting, raking, tedding, baling, and moving bales, performing maintenance on production equipment, and even making decisions about when to perform production activities. White is supported by her parents, Brooke and Ryan, and her FFA advisors, Kelsie Bewley, Emilee Graves and Jeremy Hill. Claas of America sponsors this proficiency.
Forest Management and Products – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Ella Mae Griner
Ella Mae Griner of the Pierce County High FFA Chapter in Georgia works with her family’s agribusiness, Diamond G Forest Products, harvesting raw pine gum from slash pine trees using the bore-hole method. This process involves drilling holes at each tree’s base, spraying the hole with stimulant and an insecticide, inserting a PVS pipe, and attaching a plastic bag to the pipe. The operation will drill approximately 80,000 trees each summer, typically harvesting about 150,000 pounds of oleoresin each year. The product will be distilled into turpentine and pine gum rosin. Griner is supported by her parents, Julie and Henry, and her FFA advisors, Seth Prescott and John Ratliff. John Deere sponsors this proficiency.
Fruit Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Tyler Thomas Gardner
Tyler Thomas Gardner of the Pittsville FFA Chapter in Wisconsin works for his family’s cranberry production operation. He is involved in cultivar selection, planting, nutrition, harvesting, and distribution of the crop. The family owns more than 1,700 acres of cranberry beds and manages an additional 10,000 acres of supported land. Gardner also helps lead insect, weed, and disease management for the operation. He is supported by his parents, Janeen and Thomas, and his FFA advisor, Lindsay Meissner. The National FFA Foundation and the National FFA Organization sponsor this proficiency.
Goat Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Lucas Paul Falkenstien
Lucas Paul Falkenstien of the Labette County FFA Chapter in Kansas began his supervised agricultural experience (SAE) with 18 does that he raised with his family and six higher-quality donor does that he purchased from breeders. Using that base herd and a breeding program of natural and artificial insemination with flush and embryo transfer, he built an operation to be proud of. He uses an online marketing platform to sell his goats across the nation. Falkenstien is supported by his parents, Melissa and Rich, and his FFA advisors, Kyle Zwahlen, Dustin Wiley, and Keith Geren. Tractor Supply Company sponsors this proficiency.
Grain Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Whitney Glazier of the Lomega FFA Chapter in Oklahoma has an SAE that centers around working on the family farm in all aspects of the grain production and operating an independent 25 acres of grain production. The farm includes 4,000 acres of wheat, barley and oats. Her duties include operating tractors and tillage implements to perform all the necessary tasks associated with a conventional and minimum tillage operation. A unique aspect of Glazier’s work is the production of registered and certified seed. She is supported by her parents, Lori and Dale, and her FFA advisor, Laramie Lopp. Wilbur-Ellis Company sponsors this proficiency.
Landscape Management – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Randy Eversole of the Cushing FFA Chapter in Oklahoma has a landscape business called Diamond E Land Services. He says his most important goal is to meet the customer’s needs by offering various outdoor beautification services, including landscaping, mowing, trimming, brush hogging, finish mowing, and tree trimming. He also plants grass, flowers, trees, and shrubs and removes trees and prevents weeds. Eversole is supported by his parents, Shelly and Randy, and his FFA advisors, Shane Caldwell and Travis Peery. Tractor Supply Company sponsors this proficiency.
Nursery Operations – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Abigal van Klaveren
Abigail van Klaveren of the Modesto FFA Chapter in California works at Generation Growers, her family’s wholesale container nursery. Her tasks include propagating new plants, managing greenhouses, creating soil media and supporting customer workshops, specifically in the area of citrus. The nursery grows more than 700 varieties of plants, including 26 varieties of budded citrus, allowing her to learn about different growing techniques and processes. She is supported by her parents, Deanna and Roger, and her FFA advisors, Scott Layne and Julie Schelhase. NuFarms America sponsors this proficiency.
Outdoor Recreation – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Ethan Ellis of the Chattanooga FFA Chapter in Oklahoma works for two outfitters, scouting and guiding hunts while also running his own similar service. He ran goose, duck and turkey hunts for those two operations before beginning his own service, Cave Creek. Each season, he scouts, sets decoy spreads and guides clients. He sells hunting trips throughout southwestern Oklahoma. Ellis also runs waterfowl, deer, dove, turkey, predator and hog hunts. He is supported by his parents, Angie and John, and his FFA advisor, Carley Snider. Yamaha Motor Corporation USA sponsors this proficiency.
Poultry Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Michael Bair of the Miami East MVCTC FFA Chapter in Ohio raises and markets pasture-raised, certified organic broilers at virtual markets through on-farm cash sales and local farmers markets. He was motivated to start this business after helping his family expand a segment of their organic dairy. He also has a job placement at the family’s organic 120-laying hen farm. Bair is supported by his parents, Annette and David, and his FFA advisor, Marie Carity. Tractor Supply Company sponsors this proficiency.
Service-Learning – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Ryen L. Macy
Ryen L. Macy of the Harrah FFA Chapter in Oklahoma has volunteered at the National Institute on Developmental Delays, applying her knowledge of food products and animal husbandry to develop enrichment activities for children and adults with mental and physical disabilities. These activities include horseback riding, swimming, nature walks, arts and crafts, and aerobics. No longer a volunteer, she now serves as a board member for the organization. Macy is supported by her parents, Quina and Brett, and her FFA advisors, Brad Carey and Jessica Barnes. The National FFA Foundation and the National FFA Organization sponsor this proficiency.
Sheep Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Madison Woods of the Gustine FFA Chapter in California operates her club lamb business, W2 Livestock. She breeds and raises high-quality wether-type club lambs to sell for competitions at county and state fairs. Her current flock consists of 21 breeding ewes, 10 baby lambs and two breeding rams. Woods hopes that one of her lambs will eventually make it into a national show. She is supported by her parents, Mary and Mark, and her FFA advisors, Kelly Sanches, Cameron Wyman, Matt Baffunno, and Sarah Thommen. The National FFA Foundation and the National FFA Organization sponsor this proficiency.
Small Animal Production and Care – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Emily P. Makos
Emily P. Makos of the Juda FFA Chapter in Wisconsin began her supervised agricultural experience (SAE) when she was 8 years old, receiving her first rabbit that has served as the foundation of her current herd. Her rabbit project has grown from one breed and three rabbits to more than 200 rabbits, including New Zealands, Californians, Polish, and Mini Rex. She has attended the American Rabbit Breeders Association rabbit show and learned from others in the field. Makos is supported by her parents, Jody and Eric, and her FFA advisors, Jenna Beitz and Joseph Lyne. Elanco Animal Health and Tractor Supply Company sponsor this proficiency.
Specialty Animal Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Andrew Scott Mehus
Andrew Scott Mehus of the Cochrane-Fountain City FFA Chapter in Wisconsin helps manage a closed herd of 200 head of Rocky Mountain Elk. The elk are raised primarily for the mineral content found in their bulls’ growing antlers, including glucosamine sulfate, collagen type II, and chondroitin sulfate. These minerals help the human body build new cells faster and repair and strengthen muscles. Bulls too old to produce are slaughtered, producing lean meat low in cholesterol and that is heart-healthy. Mehus is supported by his parents, Laurie and Scott, and his FFA advisor, Christine Jumbeck. The National FFA Foundation and the National FFA Organization sponsor this proficiency.
Specialty Crop Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Eric Quezeda Ridge
Eric Quezeda Ridge of the Nipomo FFA Chapter in California works at one of the few luffa farms in the United States. Since luffas are a tropical gourd, most production of the crop is done overseas. Ridge said that the most interesting thing about these plants is the drying process. The luffas are washed in a washing machine and then air-dried, allowing them to stay nonabrasive. They are softer and more natural than competing products. He is supported by his parents, Christina and Humberto, and his FFA advisors, Jessica Paulisich, Christine Ready, Katie Lord, Rosemary Cummings, Kayla Manning, and Clayton Carolson. The National FFA Foundation and the National FFA Organization sponsor this proficiency.
Swine Production – Entrepreneurship
Stetson Loyd of the Troy FFA Chapter in Texas has a supervised agricultural experience (SAE) that consists of producing and marketing swine. He currently has one sow and four bred gilts, but throughout his enterprise, he’s had a total of 40 sows and two boars that have produced 254 offspring. He’s sold these offspring to fellow breeders from across the state to improve their operations. Loyd leases two 10×30 barns from his father and has built an additional three barns, purchasing 13 farrowing crates for the operation. He is supported by his parents, Jamie and Robert, and his FFA advisors, Hunter Parrott, Mindy Howard, and Aaron Baker. Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance and Indiana Farm Bureau sponsor this proficiency.
Swine Production – Placement
Samuel Lee Trout
Samuel Lee Trout of the Whiteland FFA Chapter in Indiana has always wanted to be like his older brother. When his brother started working for a local pig breeder, Trout knew that he would have to follow suit. When his brother graduated, he stepped into his position at Sugar Creek Genetics. The operation focuses on the sales of boar semen and spring show pigs. They maintain approximately 10 to 15 boars and 15 gilts and sows at once, farrowing around eight sows each year and averaging about 75 piglets. He is supported by his parents, Anna and Jay, and his FFA advisor, Hannah Goeb. The National FFA Foundation and the National FFA Organization sponsor this proficiency.
Turf Grass Management – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Logan Nodine of the Cambridge FFA Chapter in Illinois has some of his earliest memories of being on the lawnmower with his dad. Today, he owns his business, Nodine Lawn Care. He focuses on all aspects of turfgrass management to beautify the lawns of his clients. His day-to-day tasks include maintaining grass species with riding and push mowers, string trimmers and leaf blowers. Nodine has learned about soil, water, and nutrient availability and how to manage a stable business financially. He is supported by his parents, Sarah and Robert, and his FFA advisor, Trenton Taber. John Deere sponsors this proficiency.
Vegetable Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Alexander Levan Walker
Alexander Levan Walker of the Quitman FFA Chapter in Louisiana produces market vegetables, raising them from seed to table. With two acres, he starts most of his seeds in the greenhouse but sows peas, beans, okra, and squash directly in the ground. Walker tries to find produce not sold by other vendors, introducing things like elephant garlic, eggplant, collards and tomatoes to his repertoire. He is supported by his parents, Christy and Leo, and his FFA advisor, Marty Cantrell. Tractor Supply Company and Wilbur-Ellis Company sponsor this proficiency.
Veterinary Science – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Bailey Lowe of the Felicity-Franklin FFA Chapter in Ohio has always had an interest in animals, but her experience was limited to mainly feeding and bathing dogs and cats. In her sophomore year in high school, she was hired as a kennel attendant at a local veterinary clinic. Her duties required her to feed, water, and walk domestic animals in addition to giving them medications and vaccinations. She is also responsible for bathing the animals upon departure, trimming their nails and cleaning their ears. Lowe even completed a daily clinic census to assess the state of the facility. She is supported by her parents, Laura and Terry, and her FFA advisors, Holly Jennings and Joe Broadwell. The National FFA Foundation and the National FFA Organization sponsor this proficiency.
Wildlife Production and Management – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Amanda Belew of the Hartsburg FFA Chapter in Missouri has a supervised agricultural experience (SAE) that involves purchasing Bobwhite Quail chicks to grow and sell for the training of bird dogs. The quail are used in bird dog field trials and the management release for preplanned hunting activities. Each year, she purchased 500 quail chicks. The chicks begin in a temperature-controlled brooder before they are moved to a metal hoop at the age of four weeks to provide ample flying space. Belew markets the birds to buyers from the Dakotas, Kansas and Nebraska. She is supported by her parents, Kathy and Brad, and her FFA advisors, Rebekah Hammett and Kristopher Rankin. The National FFA Foundation and the National FFA Organization sponsor this proficiency.
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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