SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The 2022 Illinois Star Awards were announced Wednesday afternoon, June 15, at the 94th annual Illinois State FFA Convention.
Illinois Star Awards honor FFA members who have developed the organization’s most outstanding agricultural skills and competencies through their Supervised Agricultural Experience, demonstrated outstanding management skills, and earned the State FFA Degree – the Illinois Association FFA’s highest degree of membership. Eligible FFA members must also have met other agricultural education, scholastic and leadership requirements.
State Star in Agribusiness: Kathryn Wagner was named the 2022 Illinois State Star in Agribusiness. Katie is the daughter of Scott and Julie Wagner. She is a member of the Mercer County FFA Chapter, advised by Aaron Heartt, Brandon Livingston, and Hannah Libby. For her Supervised Agricultural Experience, Katie operates a business, Centennial Farm Labradors. Since 2018, she has raised and sold Labrador retriever puppies. She has five females and two males. Katie plans to continue and expand her business.
State Star in Agricultural Placement: Loren Pribble was named the 2022 Illinois State Star in Agricultural Placement. Loren is the son of Jeremiah and Dana Pribble. He is a member of the Goreville FFA Chapter, advised by Jeff Robison. His Supervised Agricultural Experiences are in Grain Production, Fiber and Oil Crop Production, and Forage Crops at two farms – one in Goreville and the other in Thompsonville. He is responsible for 95% of all decisions made and 100% of labor on both farms. For the 2021 growing season, Loren raised 95 acres of corn and 61 acres of soybeans, and baled roughly 300 5-by-6 round bales of hay.
State Star in Agriscience: Lizzie Schafer was named the 2022 Illinois State Star in Agriscience. Lizzie is the daughter of Aaron and Sue Schafer. She is a member of the Taylorville FFA Chapter, advised by Sue Schafer, Katie King, and Lori Parks. For her Supervised Agricultural Experience this past year, Lizzie invested 179 hours into her in vitro fertilization embryo-grade bovine research project. She started by speaking with embryologists, veterinarians, and local producers to learn how to create an accurate project. Through her research, she’s been able to compare Grade 1, Grade 2, and Grade 3 embryos. Lizzie was able to prove that using low-quality embryos can be a great way to generate more offspring. Grade 3 embryos produced a pregnancy at the rate of 40%, Grade 2 at 40%, and Grade 1 at 55%. Through this project, Lizzie had the opportunity to work with industry leaders and researchers while gaining valuable knowledge that she plans to use in her future operation.
State Star Farmer: Braydon DeCounter was named the 2022 Illinois State Star Farmer. Braydon is the son of Sam and Heather DeCounter. He is a member of the West Prairie FFA Chapter, advised by Sam DeCounter and Corinne Biswell. Braydon has Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAEs) in Small Animal Production, Swine Entrepreneurship, and Goat Production. For the Small Animal Production project, he breeds California and New Zealand rabbits to have kits year-round. Then he shows the offspring at local, county, state, and American Rabbit Breed Association shows. The offspring that does not meet his breed criteria are sold for human consumption and through markets he has developed. For his Swine Entrepreneurship project, Braydon purchases pigs from local producers and prepares them to be shown at local, county, and state shows. For his Goat Production SAE, he breeds 13 Boer does to one Boer buck to have kids in the middle of November. His focus is to produce goats for the commercial producer and sell production-type bucks. He retains all does to expand his operation. Progeny that does not meet his standards are sold for market, production, or show ring purposes. Braydon’s projects have taught him life lessons such as time management and fiscal responsibility.
State Discovery Star Agribusiness: Bryson Stickler was selected as the Discovery Star in Agribusiness and is the son of Michael and Amy Stickler. He is a member of the Pleasant Plains FFA Chapter, located in District 3, and advised by Morgan Nelson and Aaron Gilbreth. Bryson began his Supervised Agricultural Experience, Stickler Aerial Photography, in Nov. 2020 by taking pictures for a local farmer. Since then, he has purchased a drone and updated his equipment to offer additional photography services to farmers. He provides farmers, homeowners, and realtors with top-of-the-line photographs to use for their businesses. In the future, Bryson would like to expand his business and offer farmers field mapping services so they can make management decisions for their farms. In addition to offering farm services, he plans to continue working with local homeowners and realtors. This project has allowed Bryson to expand his knowledge in a variety of fields, and he’s excited to offer new services in the future.
State Discovery Star Agricultural Placement: Amelia Krispinsky was selected as the Discovery Star in Agricultural Placement and is the daughter of Mary (Travis) Stremsterfer and Luke (Jasna) Krispinsky,. She is a member of the Pleasant Plains FFA Chapter, located in District 3, and advised by Morgan Nelson and Aaron Gilbreth. Amelia started working with rabbits four years ago when she owned two as pets. Since then, her passion for the industry has grown. Now she works alongside her stepdad to manage 120 rabbits for market and show and maintains this project year-round. In the winter and spring, they focus on show genetics so the rabbits are ready for show in the summer. In late summer and early fall, their focus transitions to getting the rabbits ready for market in the fall. In the future, Amelia would like to have her own business and rabbits. This project has helped her gain knowledge in livestock management and genetics.
State Discovery Star Farmer: Drake Slutz was selected as the Discovery Star Farmer and is the son of Brad and Carol Slutz. He is a member of the Sycamore FFA Chapter, located in District 2, and advised by Kara Poynter, Christian Thurwanger, and Courtney Wiedenmann. Drake owns a small flock of Shropshire sheep. His family has raised Shropshires since the early 1980s, making him a third-generation farmer. During the next four years, he plans to expand his flock and is excited to watch his Supervised Agricultural Experience grow.
The 94th annual Illinois State FFA Convention hosted more than 5,000 FFA members, advisors, and guests from June 14-16. With a 2022 theme of “Initiate,” the three-day event annually recognizes achievements of Illinois FFA members, elects the major state officer team, and celebrates agriculture. The convention spotlighted the Association’s annual service project, which provided $250 scholarships to 20 FFA chapters planting trees throughout the state.
Students at the convention were greeted with activities including a career fair featuring colleges and agribusinesses and an opportunity to engage in the history of Illinois’ capital city. The sessions featured addresses by National FFA Western Region Vice President Josiah Cruikshank of Oregon and from each of the retiring major state officers.
About Illinois Association FFA
The Illinois Association FFA is part of the National FFA Organization, formerly known as the Future Farmers of America. More than 23,000 students are enrolled in 354 different FFA chapters in the State of Illinois. FFA is a national youth organization of 735,038 student members with a mission of making a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education. Visit www.ilaged.org for more information.
— Illinois Association FFA