Chelsea Keiser – Nat’l Proficiency – Ohio

Chelsea Keiser of the Versailles FFA Chapter in Ohio has been named the 2011 National Proficiency winner in Agricultural Communications. Chelsea began her SAE through her love of public speaking and informing audiences about important agricultural issues. Her talent was realized when she was made the Afternoon Farm News Broadcaster at a local radio station. Keiser is the daughter of Michael and Debra and her FFA advisor is Dena Wuebker.

Audio: Chelsea Keiser, OH Nat’l Proficiency winner (3:35 MP3)

Bridget Achterberg – Nat’l Proficiency Winner – WI

The 2011 National Proficiency winner in Swine Production is Bridget Achterberg of the Abbotsford FFA Chapter in Wisconsin. Bridget started her swine operation at the age of eight, purchasing her first 10 pigs from her grandparents. Achterberg is supported by her parents Paul and Tina and her FFA advisor John Slipek.

Audio: Bridget Achterberg, WI. – Nat’l Proficiency winner (4:15 MP3)

Labor bill changes could affect youth programs

Proposed modifications to the federal labor regulations regarding youth employment could mean significant changes to the type of work young people can do on the farm.  There has also been concern about how those changes may affect how 4-H and FFA members complete their projects.  Indiana Representative Marlin Stutzman says they are checking into that possibility and says it would be a great disservice if young people lose those experiences.  He says as young people want to learn and develop skills they should have the opportunity to do so.

Stutzman tells Brownfield there is a need for young people to develop those life skills and early opportunities offered through 4-H and FFA.  He says he is hopeful that is the road of thinking that is followed rather than one that would limit young people in the opportunities they may have.

The comment period on the proposed legislation ends November 1st.

Bollinger named Star in Agriscience

As a freshman in high school, Keith Bollinger, from Buffalo City, Wis., enrolled in a natural resources class. It was a prudent decision, as Bollinger today is a wildlife ecology major at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He also volunteers and is employed with two government services helping to restore Wisconsin prairies and control invasive plants.

For his efforts, the National FFA Organization has named the 21-year-old Bollinger, the 2011 American Star in Agriscience.

Audio: Keith Bollinger, WI, Star in AgriScience (4:20 MP3)

Cole Vculek of North Dakota named Star Farmer

What began as a two-acre onion crop in 2005 has since expanded to a 640-acre diversified crop farm for Cole Vculek. It could be just the beginning, as he hopes to farm up to 5,000 acres by the time he turns 30. The 21-year-old Crete, N.D., resident was named the 2011 American Star Farmer at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis.

Audio: Cole Vculek, North Dakota, Star Farmer (2:00 MP3)

Honoring Native American Heritage

One of the highlights at this year’s 84th National FFA Convention in Indianapolis included celebrating the Native American Heritage.  The ceremony recognized the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans, especially those involved in FFA.  Chief Earl Old Person of the Blackfoot Nation in Montana tells Brownfield how Native Americans were instrumental in the beginnings of agriculture.  Person, a former FFA member in the 1940’s says he hopes last week’s ceremony during the convention helps tell the story of the Native American culture and how they want to continue to be involved with the National FFA Organization. 

AUDIO: Chief Earl Old Person, Blackfoot Nation (5:03mp3)

Star in Agribusiness goes to Kentucky FFA member

Farming has always played a role in Alex Meredith’s life. A resident of Glendale, Ky., his interest in horticulture began at an early age, and as a young entrepreneur he began delving into horticulture sales. His initiative has now won him top honors.

A graduate of Central Hardin High School in Cecilia, Ky., and member of the Central Hardin FFA chapter, Meredith was named Star in Agribusiness at the 84th National FFA Convention in Indianapolis.

Audio: Alex Meredith, KY Star in Agribusiness (3:55 MP3)

Goeckel named Star in Ag Placement

While working with his father on his commercial cow and crop production operation, Alex Goeckel of Washington, Kan., became interested in the livestock industry. This interest continued to grow and now has won him top honors.

Goeckel, a member of the Washington FFA Chapter, in Washington, Kansas was named the Star of Agricultural Placement at the 84th National FFA Convention.

Audio: Alex Goeckel, Kansas Star in Ag Placement (3:55 MP3)

Meet the 2011-2012 National FFA officer team

As the 84th National FFA Convention drew to a close, six students from across the country were elected as the 2011-2012 National FFA officer team.

Ryan Best of New Mexico is a junior at New Mexico State majoring in agricultural and extension education.

 AUDIO: Ryan Best, National FFA President (9:12mp3)

 Alicia Hodnik is a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin at River Falls majoring in agricultural education with an emphasis in biotechnology.  While she does not come from a traditional production agriculture background, she says she looks forward to serving the organzation that has meant so much to her.

 AUDIO: Alicia Hodnik, Central Region vice-president (8:06mp3)

Jason Troendle, of Charles, Minn., has been elected National FFA secretary. He is a freshman at Bethel University majoring in economics and environmental studies. The son of Fred and Sandra Troendle, he is a member of the St. Charles High School FFA Chapter in St. Charles, Minn., led by advisors Craig Will and Willie Lubahn.

Audio: Jason Troendle, Minnesota, National FFA Secretary (4:45 MP3)

Kenneth Quick Jr., of Granville, N.Y., will serve as National FFA Eastern Region vice president. The son of Michael and Connie Yopp, he is a freshman at Cornell University majoring in international agricultural and rural development and applied economics and management. Quick is a member of the Triton High School FFA Chapter in Erwin, N.C., led by John Hardee, Allen West, Andy Nelson and Andy Cole.

Audio: Kenneth Quick, Jr. NY, Eastern Region VP (4:40 MP3)

Seth Pratt, of Blackfoot, Idaho, will serve as National FFA Western Region vice president. He is freshman at the University of Idaho majoring in agricultural science, communications and leadership. Pratt, the son of Mark and Wendy Pratt, is a member of the Blackfoot High School FFA Chapter in Blackfoot, led by advisor Travis Henderson.

Audio: Seth Pratt, Idaho, Western Region VP (5:40 MP3)

Cain Thurmond, of Jefferson, Ga., will serve as National FFA Southern Region vice president. The son of Phil and Susie Thurmond, he is a freshman at University of Georgia majoring in agricultural and applied economics. Thurmond is a member of the Jefferson High School FFA chapter in Jefferson, Ga., led by Ken Bray, David Calloway and Cliff Tippens.

Audio: Cain Thurmond, Georgia, Souther Region VP (10:25 MP3)

Ag Secretary impressed by Nat’l FFA

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told Brownfield that as he walked on stage at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday, October 22, to address the 84th National FFA Convention he was just hoping he could live up to the standards set by the National Officers.

“They were so articulate, I thought my heavens, I’ve got to follow this group of young people,” said Secretary Vilsack. “It’s very intimidating, I’ve never had the chance to speak to 20,000 plus individuals before, but when you start thinking about who you are talking to and what the future is for them and the enormous opportunities they have to make a fundamental difference in the economy of the country and helping to feed not just our country, but the world, an opportunity as well to make sure America continues to be a place that celebrates diversity, these young people get it, it’s really an impressive group.”

In his remarks, the Secretary talked about the importance of organizations like the FFA, as well as highlighting USDA programs that are available to recruit the next generation of farmers.

“The future of agriculture is bright and will present the next generation with incredible opportunities to pursue,” said Vilsack. “Young people should continue to engage in policy that affects them – but they shouldn’t be limited by it. We need them to think big, innovate, and tackle the important challenges facing American agriculture and the nation as a whole.”

Audio: Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack (4:00 MP3)