Four high school and college students received top FFA honors last night at the 82nd Minnesota FFA Convention in St. Paul.
Star Farmer. Jason Schaefer started buying feeder pigs back in thid grade and now produces 750 market hogs annually. He is a 2010 graduate of Hancock High School and is currently a student at Ridgewater College in Willmar, majoring in agribusiness and farm operations and management. Son of Stanley and Beverly Schaefer, Jason is a member of the Hancock FFA chapter. His adviser is Adam Bjerketvedt.
Star in Agri-Business. Kaylee Samaza has been buying, selling trading and training horses until she had enough money to purchase a quality pair of performance horses. She competes in rodeos, Western Saddle Club Association, National Barrel Racing and National Barrel Horse Association events. Daughter of Robert and Laurie Sazama, Kaylee is a member of the Perham FFA. Her adviser is Carl Aakre. She plans to attend Dodge City Community College in Dodge City, Kansas in the fall and to major in equine training and management.
Star in Production Placement. Andrew Steiner grew up in town and found his placement experience at C. R. Koehl & Sons. The Koehl farm operations include 7,500 acres of cropland and more than 5,000 acres of custom field operations near Hancock. Crops include 1,800 acres of alfalfa, kidney beans, wheat, corn, and soybeans. Steiner started out picking rock. His responsibilities have grown to manage work crews, harvesting kidney beans, and operating the disk ripper and tillage equipment. He plans to major in agriculture education. Son of Jeff and Jill Steiner, Andrew is a member of the Hancock FFA. He is advised by Adam Bjerketvedt and his agriculture instructor is Adam Steege.
Star in Agri Science. Ryan Bart is employed at the Central Lakes College Ag Center near Staples, where his responsibilities include assisting researchers from local universities. He has been involved with starting and planting more than 12,000 Miscanthus experimental grass cuttings and working with alternative oilseed crops such as Camelina and Pennycress. With his help, the University of Minnesota completed a project testing the uptake of antibiotic-laden compost in garden vegetables in high tunnel greenhouses. Bart plans to attend the University of Minnesota-Crookston and major in natural resource management and agronomy. Son of Roman and Karen Bart, Ryan is a member of the Staples-Motley FFA. His adviser is Kerry Lindgren.
Each year at the Minnesota FFA convention, 16 state finalists—four in each category— vie for the association's top awards: Minnesota FFA Star Farmer, Minnesota FFA Star in Agri Business, Minnesota FFA Star in Production Placement and Minnesota FFA Star in Agri Science. These awards honor students who have developed outstanding agricultural skills and competencies through their supervised agricultural experience; demonstrated outstanding management skills; earned the Minnesota FFA Degree – the Association's highest level of accomplishment; and met other agricultural education, scholastic and leadership requirements. Each finalist was interviewed by a panel of judges, who ultimately named the top candidate in each area. The winner was announced in an onstage convention ceremony and received a plaque and an award of $300. The runners-up also received plaques and $100 each.
The Minnesota FFA Degree recognition programs are sponsored by Ag Star Financial, as a special project of the Minnesota FFA Foundation. The Minnesota FFA Association represents 187 Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources Education programs and local FFA Chapters, serving more than 9,000 student members across the state of Minnesota. For more information visit www.mnffa.org.