INDIANAPOLIS — The 45 winners of the 2022 Agricultural Proficiency Awards were named during multiple sessions of the 95th National FFA Convention & Expo, Oct. 27-28 in Indianapolis.
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.
The recipients are:
Agricultural Communication – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Laura Weubker of the Versailles FFA Chapter in Ohio works for WGTR radio station as a co-farm news director. In this position, she informs listeners about agriculture-related topics through researching stories and broadcasting them. She contacts 10 local grain elevators and collects the grain markets along with creating and broadcasting a weather forecast. Her reports extend to the entire listening area covering four counties in Ohio and two in Indiana. Weubker is supported by her parents, Dena and Jeff.
Agricultural Education – Entrepreneurship/Placement
When she was a freshman, Emily Hoyt of the Audrain Co. R-VI FFA Chapter in Missouri was encouraged to take part in an Ag in the Classroom program. She was soon challenged to grow the existing program and even applied for Ag Ed on the Move, a program that provides resources to teach 10 lessons on agriculture commodities to third grade classrooms. She incorporated hands-on activities to apply the concepts before teaching the lesson. Hoyt also has an unpaid internship with the school district, serving as a teaching assistant for the seventh and eighth grade exploring agriculture classes. Hoyt is supported by her parents, Becky and Brad.
Agricultural Mechanics Design and Fabrication – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Levi Marlatt of the Rushville FFA Chapter in Indiana produces precision computer numerical control (CNC) machined parts and metal fabrication for agricultural equipment. He works with his father’s business and owns his own, as well. The parts he fabricates include covers, adapters, frames and brackets. Using the advanced computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software, Mastercam, he makes detailed drawings of precisely measured parts. Marlatt is supported by his parents, Amelia and Paul.
Agricultural Mechanics Repair and Maintenance – Entrepreneurship
Scott Henderson of the Canyon FFA Chapter in Texas is the proprietor of Henderson Tractor Repair. He began restoring tractors and competing in restoration competitions at the age of nine. His first three restorations were a 1934 Alice Chalmers WC, a 1955 Oliver Super 55 Diesel, and a Farmall B. He has restored nine additional tractors and has eight more lined up to work on. Henderson is supported by his parents, Cristy and Shannon.
Agricultural Mechanics Repair and Maintenance – Placement
Caden Keck of the West Muskingum FFA Chapter in Ohio works for Ross Agri Mechanics, an equipment service and repair shop. His early tasks were simple ones including greasing equipment, completing oil changes and replacing basic filters. After four years with the operation, he is responsible for repairing and performing maintenance on everything from tractors and brush hogs to rototillers and lawn mowers. Keck is supported by his parents, Danielle and Andy.
Agricultural Processing – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Ethan David Meissner of the Marshfield FFA Chapter in Wisconsin works at his local meat processing facility. At the beginning of his supervised agricultural experience, he cleaned the processing facility and assisted customers in loading up their purchased products. When the operation expanded, his duties grew to include custom meat cutting and processing, stocking and packing the refrigeration truck, and assisting in the retail store. Meissner is supported by his mother, Lindsay.
Agricultural Sales – Entrepreneurship
Kolton David Bailey of the Central Noble FFA Chapter in Indiana owns and operates KB Hay Supplies. Several years ago, he met a hay supplies company at a farm show, developing a relationship with them before being asked if he wanted to become a dealer. He sells net wrap, twine, bale film, bunker covers, grain bags, silage bags, hay tarps, silage inoculant and hay preservative. Bailey is supported by his parents, Kari and Kyle.
Agricultural Sales – Placement
Tanner Owen of the Canyon FFA Chapter in Texas works for Premier Nutrition Technologies, a small feed supplement business that his family owns. The operation sells feed supplements designed for show animals ranging from pigs to cattle. He assists with unloading new feed that comes from the mill, packaging and shipping products, as well as delivering pallets of feed to local distributors of the product. Owen is supported by his parents, Sherilyn and Kevin.
Agricultural Services – Entrepreneurship/Placement
John Gilbert of the Valley View MVCTC FFA Chapter in Ohio works for his family business, Ro-Lin Farm Services. This operation specializes in buying, storing and hauling farm products. They provide agriculturists with various services, such as: custom fertilizer, spraying, planting, scouting and soil sampling. Gilbert is supported by his parents, Lucy and Chad.
Agriscience Research – Animal Systems
Raigan McKee of the Oologah FFA Chapter in Oklahoma has spent three years researching the use of specific treatments to improve biosecurity measures taken by livestock producers. She began her research after visiting a commercial hog operation and became interested in the measures taken to keep the facility free from infectious diseases. She compared a commercial grade disinfectant against regular soap and water to determine if there was a significant impact on the bacteria collected from samples. McKee is supported by her parents, Amy and Clint.
Agriscience Research – Integrated Systems
Garren Thomas Hamby of the Eagleville FFA Chapter in Tennessee conducts research that is tied to his other enterprises, including a livestock operation called Hoofstock Ventures and a strategy/marketing consultancy called agEXCEDE. With the former, he focused on analyzing advanced reproductive technologies. For the latter, his research involved conducting primary and secondary market analysis for resell. Hamby is supported by his parents, Patricia and Jaye.
Agriscience Research – Plant Systems
Brennan Elszy of the Hanford FFA Chapter in California has conducted two research projects in plant and soil sciences. His first project tested the effectiveness of Chloropicrin soil fumigation on managing nematode populations in orchard soils that were previously planted with an orchard crop. His second effort focused on growth patterns in pruning species trees that were planted in fumigated soils to determine which fumigant more effectively mitigated prunes replant syndrome caused by nematode populations present in the soil. Elszy is supported by his parents, Kristi and William.
Beef Production – Entrepreneurship
Luke Gallagher of the Altus FFA Chapter in Oklahoma began his supervised agricultural experience by purchasing 15 cows and two bulls, raising the calves and selling them. He applied to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Beginning Farmer Program in 2021, helping him purchase 320 acres and 361 backgrounded stocker-steers. Knowing that he bears for the financial responsibility for this operation has elevated his interest in market forces, costs, expenses and management practices. Gallagher is supported by his parents, Tatum and Ryan.
Beef Production – Placement
Lizzie Catherine Schafer of the Taylorville FFA Chapter in Illinois works for her family farm, producing 120 head of Angus cattle and focusing on performance tested bulls, breeding females, show heifers, and profitable feedlot cattle. This experience has given her the opportunity to work with other cattle producers from across the nation and gain hands-on experience with the latest technologies in bovine reproduction. Schafer is supported by her parents, Suzanne and Aaron.
Dairy Production – Entrepreneurship
Carrie Rhoades of the Ansonia FFA Chapter in Ohio is a seventh-generation dairy farmer, raising her own herds of dairy replacement heifers, milking cows and dairy show cattle. She has a labor exchange agreement with her father to pay for the feed, rent and other necessities for her projects. Her responsibilities include feeding the heifers, giving the calves milk, providing grain and water, bedding pens and hutches, dehorning newborn calves, and tagging and tattooing heifers. Rhoades is supported by her parents, Leslie and Douglas.
Dairy Production – Placement
Anthony Agueda of the Hughson FFA Chapter in California grew up on a third-generation dairy farm. His involvement with the operation began the summer before his freshman year. On 600 acres and with a milking herd of 2,200 cows, his responsibilities have steadily grown over the year. Agueda works to maintain animal facilities, analyze feed rations and nutritional intake, and oversee milking. Agueda is supported by his parents, Diane and Tony.
Diversified Agricultural Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Justin Duenke of the Audrain County R-VI FFA Chapter in Missouri has a supervised agricultural experience in multiple areas including beef, grain, oil crops and forage production. His placement is on a third-generation family farm consisting of row crops, Haflinger draft horses, a commercial cow-calf operation, and backgrounding feeder cattle. Duenke performs various duties related to all aspects of the farm, from cattle and corn to horses and hay. Duenke is supported by his parents, Vicki and Mike.
Diversified Crop Production – Entrepreneurship
Ty Steffen of the Newark FFA Chapter in Illinois grows onions, potatoes, peppers, broccoli, eggplant, tomatoes, cauliflower, beets, spinach and more as part of his diversified crop production. As the sole operator, he takes charge of fertilizing, weeding, tilling, harvesting and selling crops at several farmers markets. He also sells at craft shows and an honor hay rack in his community. Steffen is supported by his parents, Tracy and Joe.
Diversified Crop Production – Placement
Logan Jack Bennett of the Colquitt County FFA Chapter in Georgia works 2,500 acres of farmland, growing cotton, peanuts, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, squash, zucchini, cabbage, broccoli and more. He also helps manage 10 acres of greenhouses. When he began, his tasks included simple maintenance on machinery, sanitizing the packing shed, and operating tractors. As his experiences grew, so did his responsibilities. Bennett is supported by his parents, Jennifer and Brett.Diversified
Diversified Horticulture – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Trenton Jones of the Higginsville FFA Chapter in Missouri works at The Greenhouse at C&M Farms and also owns his own houseplant store, Trent’s Tropicals. He provides high-quality indoor and outdoor plants at affordable prices while helping to raise agriculture awareness. He started his endeavors by selling plants through Facebook. He’s since learned much more about the business, taking charge of all tasks including watering and fertilizing, pest prevention, propagation, creating designs using plants in landscapes and containers, and more. Jones is supported by his father, Chris.
Diversified Livestock Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Connor Pence of the Veribest FFA Chapter in Texas owns and operates a breeding goat herd and commercial cattle herd in addition to raising market goats, market lambs, and market swine. When he was just three years old, his grandparents started him out with five does. His desire to produce higher quality goats led to his acquisition of better genetics in his goat projects. Today, his breeding goat project consists of 40 head of does and their offspring. Pence is supported by his parents, Denise and Cory.
Environmental Science and Natural Resources Management – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Lauren Marie Poole of the Winfield FFA Chapter of Louisiana has served as a Youth Conservation Corps member at the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) in her area. She worked with various employees during her time at the USFS, including wildlife biologists, to help manage red-cockaded woodpecker preservation. She also worked with groundskeepers and landscapers to help maintain portions of Kisatchie National Forests, campgrounds, boat launches and office areas. Poole is supported by her parents, Barbara and Glen.
Equine Science – Entrepreneurship
Wyatt Allen of the Benjamin Russell FFA Chapter in Alabama is part-owner of 5A Ranch. He raises horses to participate in team roping throughout the country, currently managing 14 head of horses. He purchases horses at an early age, ensuring they are from a good bloodline. He spends four to five hours each day riding and training the horses, providing quality healthcare, and providing a specialized diet that allows the horses to compete at high levels. Allen is supported by his father, Ed.
Equine Science – Placement
Ellie Jane Williams of the Northwest Whitfield FFA Chapter in Georgia works for a 53-acre, 12 stall operation, providing hunter-jumper boarding, lessons, and sales with more than 40 horses on property. The operation specializes in breeding, training horses and riders to be competitive in jumping, movie industry involvements, and treatments. Williams assists with scheduling lessons, vet appointments, breeding, sales appointments, and help set the farm’s show schedules. Williams is supported by her parents, Tatum and Graham.
Fiber and/or Oil Crop Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Thomas Rindfuss of the Wynford FFA Chapter in Ohio works for his family’s farm, producing 620 acres of soybeans from early spring tillage through fall harvest. Throughout the year, he performs multiples tasks, from welding to driving tractors to installing waterways. He also helps with marketing the crop, choosing varieties and grain storage. Rindfuss is supported by his parents, Shelley and Mike.
Forage Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Jay McClure of the Hugoton FFA Chapter in Kansas works for the family farm, producing $1.2 million of forage crops in seven irrigated cycles in 2021. He is tasked with maintaining and repairing all haying equipment and supervising two employees who help with harvesting. He’s also charged with irrigation timing and watering amounts, each set with the goal of producing 7 1/2 tons of forage per acre over the five cuttings of the season. McClure is supported by his parents, Karen and Joel.
Forest Management and Products
Joshua Shaver of the West Rowan FFA Chapter in North Carolina works for his family business, Shaver Wood Products. He joined the operation in 2011, helping to manage 45 acres of lumber mill where treated and untreated lumber are produced to sell wholesale to companies on the east coast and internationally. He helps operate all the necessary equipment for the operation including drying kilns, computer-operated saws for dimensional lumber production, forklifts, wheel loaders and more. Joshua is supported by his uncle, Chad.
Fruit Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Clark Simmons of the Penn Yan FFA Chapter in New York is the third generation to work on his family farm. When he was only ten years old, he started working by replacing broken posts that hold the trellis for the grapes. He learned to prune and trellis the grapes depending on the variety. Simmons was certified through the Environmental Protection Agency, trained for pesticide safety and to be a handler. This certification includes pesticides, fungicides and insecticides. Simmons is supported by his parents, Julie and Daren.
Goat Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Sunny Cowley of the Canyon FFA Chapter in Texas owns a show goat herd consisting of 46 head, allowing her to experience all aspects of raising goats from breeding to marketing. Her top priorities are to maintain the health of her animals through proper nutrition, daily care and facilities maintenance. Cowley breeds nannies that she owns to bucks that she leases to have kids to sell and, potentially, for her to show. Cowley is supported by her parents, Mandy and Kelby.
Grain Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Joan Tovar-Martinez of the Sumter County FFA Chapter in Georgia is a farmhand at a local operation farming 25,000 acres that farm Pioneer and DeKalb corn. He is responsible for driving tractors during the planting and harvest seasons, checking irrigation systems, and completing maintenance and repairs on the farm equipment. When stored corn needs to be loaded and transported, he assists in the record-keeping processes to ensure that records are as accurate as possible, including truck weights, load weights, and harvest locations. Tovar-Martinez is supported by his parents, Dulce and Wenceslao.
Landscape Management – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Jared Weigandt of the New Bremen FFA Chapter in Ohio works for Sidney Lawn and Landscape, a business owned by his father. He is the mechanic and landscape co-foreman, involved in seeding lawns, installing landscapes, lawn maintenance tasks, erosion control and fertilizer applications. Weigandt is supported by his parents, Lisa and Jeffery.
Nursery Operations – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Devin M. Boyer of the Franklin County FFA Chapter in Georgia works at Broad River Blooms in his home county. When he began his work, the farm was merely an overgrown field. However, he’s helped that land transform into a field of raised beds used to produce bulbs and tubers, and nursery decorative trees and shrubs. The bulbs and tubers are harvested, sold and shopped to enthusiasts nationally. The tubers that are produced are primarily dahlia species. Boyers has constructed eight 25-foot raised beds that hold ranunculus and dahlias. Boyer is supported by his parents, Jamie and Michael.
Outdoor Recreation – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Carson Crary of the Choteau FFA Chapter in Montana works for a guest ranch and outfitting business in his home state. With five guest cabins and a main lodge, the operation leads traditional back country trips into Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness during the summer. Guests ride horses, and all the gear and camp equipment is maintained. Provided crew includes a lead guide, cook, two packers and a fifth wheel. Crary is supported by his parents, Danielle and Dusty.
Poultry Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Jackson Lohr of the Broadway FFA Chapter in Virginia works for the family’s poultry farm, which raises broilers under contract for Pilgrim’s at a capacity of 190,000 birds. The farm consists of one double deck, a mid-sized flat house, and two large flat houses, which Lohr can set up without any instructions. He assists with clean out and litter management keeping the nutrient management plan in compliance with state and local regulations. Lohr is supported by his parents, Jackie and Stephen.
Service-Learning – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Grace Constance DiGiovanni of the McCook Central FFA Chapter in South Dakota attended a national youth healthy living summit and became inspired to promote health and wellness in her community. Backpacks containing food are distributed to students in her school each time there is a three-day weekend, ensuring that food insecurity is limited. DiGiovanni prepares recipe cards in collaboration with 4-H, based on the food included in the backpacks. DiGiovanni is supported by her parents, Corey and Randy.
Sheep Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Connor Cowdrey of the Brock FFA Chapter in Texas has a business of building, owning and operating a flock of Dorper sheep. His flock consists of 103 head of Dorper ewes and 15 Dorper rams. During a normal week, 10 to 15 hours are spent caring for the sheep, unless it’s lambing season or when vaccination and deworming occurs. Cowdrey is supported by his parents, Devonna and Clay.
Small Animal Production and Care – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Halle Miller of Norwayne FFA Chapter in Ohio owns Borders of Eby Eden, an operation that sells Bordoodle puppies—border collies crossed with poodles—throughout the U. S. Her enterprise grew from two dogs to six and she has sold 88 puppies with more than 20 depositors awaiting their own. Miller provides early neurological stimulation, genetic research, vet care and reproductive support. She is supported by her parents, Robin and Mike.
Specialty Animal Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Samuel Jimenez of the Madera FFA Chapter in California works at Mad Town Koi, a fishery that specializes in raising butterfly, utsuri, tancho, Showa, and kohaku koi. The fishery is vertically integrated, handling the fish during their entire growth cycle, producing more than 500,000 koi. The fishery is housed between pistachio orchards and includes a 20-acre lake for quick grow out, a north and south reservoir, hatchery tanks, breeding stock pond, and short-term storage tanks. Jimenez is supported by his parents, Monique and Leo.
Specialty Crop Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Amber Brianna Leabo of the Deane Bozeman FFA Chapter in Florida works at the only USDA-recognized lavender farm in the state. The family-owned operation sits on 3.41 acres of rural land. Leabo processes and markets products in the gift shop including candles sachets, soaps, hydrosol, food seasonings, sugar scrubs and bath bombs. Leabo is supported by her parents, Kari and Jason.
Swine Production – Entrepreneurship
Dallas Sills of the White County High School FFA Chapter in Georgia raises and processes pigs through his company, Mossy Creek Pork. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, he realized that a shortage of pork in his community presented a need. He purchased feeder pigs from the animal science department at the University of Georgia. Sills has a standing appointment with a livestock processor for two hogs each week and has received a license to sell. Through his operation, he sells pork chops, sausages and ribs. Sills is supported by his parents, Kelly and Doug.
Swine Production – Placement
Cason Ross Lamber of the Carroll at Flora FFA Chapter in Indiana works for his family farm raising approximately 27,000 head in a contract wean to finish operation. He is personally responsible for 18,000 pigs or roughly 66%of the family’s hogs. He loads hogs most mornings, with168 hogs per semi in about three semis each morning. Cleaning pens and distributing medications, vaccinations or shots is routine for Lamber. Lamber is supported by his mother, Stephanie.
Turf Grass Management – Entrepreneurship/Placement
While in middle school, Nathaniel McCandlish of the Fairfield Union FFA Chapter in Ohio began mowing lawns for family and friends in his neighborhood. Before long, his efforts grew into his own business. In addition to mowing, he offers lawn aeration, seeding, fertilizing and revitalization. McCandlish owns all his equipment, assumes all expenses and receives all profits. His parents let him use their shop for storage in exchange for maintaining their lawn. McCandlish is supported by his parents, Carrie and Gene.
Vegetable Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Griffin Craig Gillmor
Griffin Craig Gillmore of the Lakota FFA Chapter in Ohio has been engaged in his family farm for as long as he can remember. While the majority of the 1,780 acres are devoted to growing sugar beets, approximately 200 acres are dedicated to peppers, pickles, cabbage and sweet corn. Gillmore operates the 7120 Magnum tractor paired to the custom built 120’ conveyer system that is used for harvesting pickles. Gillmore is supported by his parents, Lisa and Craig.
Veterinary Science – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Abigail Porter of the Beloit FFA Chapter in Kansas has had the goal of becoming a veterinarian since she was four years old. To reach this goal, she started volunteering at a local vet hospital at age 11. In the ensuing years, she has learned to tend to client needs, run the computer system, maintain the vet clinic, and to communicate with coworkers about scheduling. Porter can also balance feed rations, assist in surgeries, administer medications and operate equipment. Porter is supported by her parents, Angela and Stuart.
Wildlife Production and Management – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Trent Lane Dowell of the Gallatin FFA Chapter in Missouri has a two-part supervised agricultural experience involving wildlife habitat management and deer feed mineral production. He takes raw products and grinds them into a palatable mineral treat for deer to consume. This mix of ingredients boosts the immune system and enables deer to fight off illnesses such as blue tongue and chronic wasting disease. Dowell is supported by his parents, Ida and Trent.
The National FFA Organization is a school-based national youth leadership development organization of more than 850,000 student members as part of 8,995 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
–National FFA Organization