WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Each year, The Big E invites FFA (Future Farmers of America) members to the Eastern States Exposition to compete, promote and encourage excellence through the development of outstanding scholarship, leadership and supervised agricultural experiences (SAE).
When The Big E was cancelled for 2020, this Eastern Regional FFA Star Awards event went virtual to recognize these agriculturalists, thanks to the continuing support of Farm Credit East.
Applications were submitted online, virtual interviews were held, and the 2020 FFA Stars for four categories were announced via Zoom. The winners are:
Star Farmer: Brittani Burke
Raising beef, sheep and swine for breeding and show stock purposes, as well as the retail meat market, is vital to Brittani’s fifth-generation family farm in Connecticut. They raise Angus cattle, Yorkshire pigs and Suffolk sheep, as well as operating a garden center and farm stand. She was named 2020 Connecticut State Star Farmer and graduated from Suffield Regional Agriscience Center in June; she’s currently taking online college classes in preparation for transferring to the University of Illinois to major in agricultural business and animal nutrition.
Star Agriscience: Hunter Gardner
Hunter’s SAE focused on tropical cyclones in the inland Northeast, and their effect on agriculture due to changes in frequency, duration, wind speed and rainfall through the years. Additionally, he has had extensive experience in a variety of projects, including dairy cattle, ornamental horticulture, leadership, public speaking, citizenship and volunteer experiences, and more. Hunter is a graduate of Taconic Hills High School, and attends the State University of New York at Albany.
Star Agribusiness: Tanner Lipscomb
Working in a family owned business called Lipscomb Crabs, Tanner and his brother have developed a Virginia crabbing operation established by their grandfather. They sell across several counties, marketing crabs daily from the Rappahannock River and Mechims Creek. Tanner has earned his boaters license, including a six-week course from the Virginia Flotilla and a driving test in the Chesapeake Bay; he helps with boat care and maintenance, as well as driving the boat to pick up pots and sorting crabs. He’s gained experience in business negotiation and people skills, too. Tanner graduated from King William High School with two years of welding training, and hopes to attend the Marine Mechanic Institute.
Star Placement: Mindi Freed
Wholesome, nutritious and safe food production is Mindi’s goal. She has an extensive dairy cattle background, and has developed her meats skills through work experience at Baker Meat Services in Conixville, Virginia. Mindi completes USDA paperwork, assists with sanitation procedures, sets up processing equipment, prepares hams for smoking, and cuts up and packages select cuts and sausage meat to be sold to restaurants, at farmers markets and for special orders. A graduate of Stonewall Jackson High School and Lord Fairfax Community College, she plans to earn a degree in dairy science from Virginia Tech and hopes to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
For more information, visit: https://www.thebige.com/p/competitions/ffa/star-program.
–The Big E