FFA: Preparing Agriculture’s Future Part III

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The Farm and Dairy profiles four students this week in part three of a three part series celebrating FFA Week.

The Farm and Dairy has also profiled two FFA chapters. In one portion, we look at a rural FFA program at Mohawk High School in New Castle, Pa.

And in the second part, we look at what is considered an urban program at Wauseon High School in Wauseon, Ohio.

Also check out the history of FFA in the first part of the series and how it has developed so many individuals and helped them become influential leaders.

But first, meet these four FFA leaders and find out what the faces of FFA are doing and how they are succeeding at what they love.

FFA program leads some students down career path
BESSEMER, Pa. — Many high school students say they don’t want to be in class, but one Mohawk High Student actually goes out of his way to attend school.

Brandon Ball, a senior, lives in the Neshannock School District, a school that does not offer the FFA program. So he pays tuition to attend the Mohawk School District and has excelled in the FFA program there.

FFA Student profiles

Brandon Ball

In fact, he’s currently the chapter’s vice president.

Ball is also unique in that he specializes in tractor restoration and agriculture mechanics.

He has been ranked in the top 8 in the nation for his tractor restoration skills and was asked to take his tractor to the Pa. Farm Show in 2009 to show off his work.

Ball has also earned many ribbons at the Lawrence County Fair in the antique tractor show and has taken the best of show award numerous times.

In addition, he has been ranked in the top five for rebuilding oil and gas engines in the tri-county region and his square dancing team took first place at the Pa. Farm Show this year.

Ball said FFA has helped him to develop a career path into agriculture mechanics and has taught him to look at people and places differently. He said he has learned there are many people like him, which has given him self confidence. It has also helped him to meet many people in the agriculture field he might not have gotten to meet because he lives in an urban area.

Ball would like to open up his own business in the future repairing tractors and selling antique tractor parts after graduating high school.

He currently works at Burgh Implement, a tractor salvage yard in Zelienople, Pa.

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Crockett finds budding interest in floriculture

TOLEDO — She may still be mastering the Latin names for plants and the diseases they can get, but Tami Crockett has come to know plants and flowers very well.

Crockett, a senior and president of the FFA at Toledo Public Schools’ Natural Science Technology Center, has learned how to make wedding bouquets, holiday arrangements and all thing floral, by participating in her school’s floriculture program and working for a local flower shop.

FFA Student profiles

Tami Crockett

As an urban chapter, students study floral design and greenhouse management, landscape and turf management, small animal management and natural resources.

A team of Toledo floriculture students recently took first place at the state contest, and Crockett hopes to continue the study in college, as part of a horticulture minor. She plans to attend either The University of Toledo or Johns Hopkins University, with the goal of becoming a gynecologist.

In addition to job placement, Crockett also has volunteered time for the school’s Mother’s Day sale and helping to decorate for various holiday themes.

As president of her chapter, she’s charged with leading 125 members and enjoys leadership the most.

“They (other students) have to look up to you and know that you are the leader and part of the chapter,” she said.

Crockett recalls being introduced to floriculture and FFA at a young age, and is glad she decided to make the program a reality for herself.

“Now I’m here and I’m loving it,” she said. “It’s interesting, entertaining and hands-on.”

And she’s made some friends along the way, in Ohio and beyond.

“I’ve made plenty of friends,” she said, adding FFA experiences have taught her how to get along and interact with many others.

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Brent Stammen leads Ohio’s No. 1 chapter

VERSAILLES, Ohio — Named the top chapter in Ohio for the past two years, Versailles FFA in Darke County is about as strong a program as they come.

Chapter President Brent Stammen is a four-year member who hopes to pursue a college education in agricultural communications or marketing. Stammen got involved with FFA following eighth-grade recruitment, and now helps with recruitment efforts himself.

FFA Student profiles

Brent Stammen

For FFA Week, his chapter is lining hallways with posters and pictures, and conducting FFA and agriculture trivia for the rest of the school. They’ll also be cooking breakfast — for members and for teachers.

Stammen has participated in career development contests in public speaking, parliamentary procedure, dairy foods and many other activities, but his favorite part of FFA is the experience of being an officer — first, student adviser, then secretary and now president.

“It’s just a lot of fun to be involved in chapter activities and kind of have an inside track,” he said.

His chapter recently celebrated its 75th anniversary and members attended a proclamation ceremony at the Ohio Statehouse, to receive honors as Ohio’s No. 1 chapter. Nationally, the chapter has a Three-Star rating, the highest it can earn.

“It’s been a great accomplishment,” said chapter adviser, Dena Wuebker. “We have many fantastic students.”

Although Stammen has received much from the FFA, he’s also giving back, by being a leader and spreading the word to younger students and the community. He helps with an annual farm safety day to train local Emergency Medical Technicians and firefighters on how to respond to farm catastrophe. He also practices job placement skills at his family’s business — North Star Hardware & Implement Co.

With 110 members and a county full of agriculture, Versailles is a mainstay in FFA.

”We have a strong tie to agriculture and a lot of great businesses and communities that support us,” Wuebker said.

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FFA connections help his business succeed locally

VOLANT, Pa. — An FFA member by day and an entrepreneur by night — that describes Ryan Martin, 18, a member of the Wilmington High School FFA program.

Martin owns and operates Headliners Show Pigs, his own show pig business.

FFA Student profiles

Ryan Martin

Martin’s focus while in FFA has been on swine breeding and finishing. He has taken his sows to the Lawrence County Fair and to the Pennsylvania Farm Show. His enterprise was so strong that he earned the state Star Award in agriculture production earlier this year at the Pa. state FFA convention.

He said FFA has taught him a lot about tracking his feed efficiency in his hogs, breeding and health records in his herd, profit and loss in the business world and improved his record keeping abilities.

Martin added it also helped him to make connections that have allowed his show pig business to grow.

He raises between eight and 10 sows and is in the midst of farrowing them out. In fact, the day the Farm and Dairy talked to him, he had delivered a set of piglets. He said he grows them out to between 50 and 60 pounds and then sells them as show pigs for 4-H and FFA projects.

Martin plans on attending Penn State in the fall and majoring in agribusiness. He said the pig business will continue, but he doesn’t see it as a sustainable full-time business due to declining pork prices and the state of the commercial pig business. He added he wants to stay in the agriculture industry, but thinks maybe something to do with raising waterfowl.

Martin has achieved the Keystone Award, the Gray and Blue Award, and the State Gold Award for livestock judging.

In addition, he has made time to play football all four years of high school and earned the Most Improved Player award this year.

Martin lives on his family’s 200-cow dairy farm near Volant with his parents and two brothers.

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