Joseph Arnold, Holloway, Minn., a 2014 graduate of Lac qui Parle Valley High School and a member of the school’s FFA chapter, was awarded the 2017 American Star Farmer award at the 90th National FFA Convention in late October in Indianapolis.
Described as a quiet, humble man by Wes Anderson, his FFA advisor, Arnold says he was surprised when his name was announced for the award.
“I was not expecting to win it,” he says. “I was happy to be in the final four [for Star Farmer].”
Arnold returned to the 1,800-acre family farm to work full time after his graduation last May from the University of Minnesota-Crookston. There, he majored in ag systems management with a farm management emphasis.
Arnold gives credit to FFA for launching him into his farming career.
C. Edwards Studio
LOCAL LEADER: Joe Arnold served as FFA chapter president his senior year at Lac qui Parle Valley High School and was an FFA chapter student advisor. (Source: Photo reprinted with permission by C. Edwards Studio, Madison, Minn.)
“I’m thankful to be able to go to a school that has a very active FFA chapter. Not everyone has the chance for that level of participation,” he says. “A lot of college professors were surprised at what I already knew. I told them that was because of FFA. I learned a lot of pretty valuable stuff.”
When Arnold joined FFA, he began learning about the mechanics as well as the business side of farming. He realized working on his family’s farm would be perfect for his FFA supervised agricultural experience.
“Joe had ownership in his SAE since its inception,” Anderson recalls. “Quite often, we see where Dad hands the student 80 acres to rent, and then Dad still makes the decisions regarding that 80 acres. Dan and Lynette Arnold, Joe’s parents, did just the opposite.”
Anderson says Joe, as a high school junior, had complete control over the inputs, crop protectants and marketing on his first rented acreage.
“I remember him leaving my class and calling the local elevator to market a few thousand bushels of grain because the USDA crop report was coming out later that day, and Joe felt it was going to be bearish, so he sold some grain prior to the report coming out,” Anderson says.
HANDS-ON: Joe Arnold currently farms in partnership with his dad, Dan. Together, they farm 1,800 acres near Holloway, Minn.
While in FFA, Arnold decided to diversify his crops beyond corn and soybeans. He invested in shares of stock in the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative and started raising sugarbeets — just as his dad and grandfather did. He also did his homework before growing navy and kidney beans.
“Kidney beans were a new experience. I needed different machinery, and it takes more management through the growing season,” he says. “I had help from others in my area to help me get on my feet with that.”
Looking ahead, Arnold plans to continue to reduce his debt load. He also would like to become involved with the sugarbeet co-op board.
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 a supervised agricultural experience.
Sixteen American Star Award finalists from throughout the U.S. are nominated by a panel of judges, who then interview the finalists during the 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 convention, with the winners being announced during an onstage ceremony Oct. 26.