New Nebraska FFA officers announced

nebraska ffa officers for 14-15-editedNebraska FFA has announced its officer team for 2014-15.

Pictured, left to right, are Blair Hartman, State Vice President, Imperial FFA Chapter; Colton Flower, State Secretary, Scottsbluff FFA Chapter; Andrea Wach, State Vice President, Hayes Center FFA Chapter; Paige Dexter, State President, Chambers FFA Chapter; Amanda Lambrecht, State Vice President, Blair FFA Chapter; Brandon Nichols, State Vice President, Bridgeport FFA Chapter; and Ben Rice, State Vice President, Norris FFA Chapter.

(Photo courtesy of the Nebraska FFA Association)

Program addresses Nebraska ag teacher shortage

A new program designed to entice more college students to become agricultural education teachers has been unveiled by the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation.

The program will include Student Teacher Scholarships for students enrolled in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Ag Education Teacher Education program—and a Teacher Loan Assistance Program to help current Nebraska ag education teachers pay existing student loans.

At a news conference during the state FFA Convention in Lincoln, Nebraska ag education state director Matt Kreifels said Nebraska is facing a critical shortage of ag education teachers.

“We have schools that are looking to hire an agricultural education teacher that cannot find one,” Kreifels said. “We have schools that want to start a program and an FFA chapter that cannot find a teacher and therefore cannot start that program for their students.”

Kreifels says about 20 percent of the current ag education teachers in Nebraska will retire or are eligible to retire over the next three years.

“Unfortunately we do not have the numbers of students enrolling in ag education that we need to fill those positions,” he says, “and on top of that, of those students that are enrolled to become ag teachers, many of them take industry jobs and work for companies in the ag industry rather than for schools to educate our students.”

Kreifels says ag ed teachers often struggle to justify entering a career where their first year’s salary is less than their total student loan amount. The average starting base salary for Nebraska teachers is about 31,000 dollars.

The Farm Bureau Foundation says it needs to raise 40 thousand dollars initially to get the program up and going.

AUDIO: Excerpt from news conference announcing the new ag teacher assistance program (8:51 MP3)

Career fair big part of Nebraska FFA Convention

The Nebraska FFA Convention is underway in Lincoln.

A big part of the annual convention is the career fair.  FFA Foundation executive director Stacey Agnew says 35 companies will be part of this year’s event.  And she says Nebraska’s farm and commodity organizations also play a big role at the convention.

“We want our students to be able to have opportunities to go back to their rural communities, or work for ag companies, or even be an entrepreneur or a producer themselves,” Agnew says, “and so the value of having these different organizations to help students connect is key.”

The state FFA convention runs through Friday.

AUDIO: Stacey Agnew (7:11 MP3)

Leaders helping kids connect through horses

Horse oriented youth leaders gathered in Minneapolis this past weekend for the 2014 American Youth Horse Council Symposium. Leaders from breed associations, equine sports groups, 4H, FFA, scouting, rodeos and other groups learned a variety of tools to take back with them to teach youth about horsemanship and to attract new members. Danette McGuire, executive director of the council, tells Brownfield not as many children are involved in equine groups as there once were.  She says the benefits from working with horses are endless.

The 2015 American Youth Horse Council Symposium will be held in Redmond, Oregon.

HOOFBEAT – American Youth Horse Council Symposium (3:00 mp3)

Dybedahls – SD FFA Family of the Year

The South Dakota FFA Family of the Year award for 2014 goes to the Craig and Bonnie Dybedahl family of Colton, South Dakota. Craig tells Brownfield Ag News he taught ag education before starting in the animal health industry, “So, the FFA has always been an important part of my life and our lives and we feel very fortunate that our children were interested in seeing opportunities that FFA had to offer them in terms of leadership development and career development as well.”

Craig, who is a sales representative for Zoetis, is currently on the Foundation Board and served as a public speaking judge at the National FFA Convention. The Dybedahls are active at the chapter, state and national levels of FFA.

Interview with Craig Dybedahl (5:30 mp3)

Missouri FFA President addresses legislators

Photo of Missouri FFA President Abrea Mizer at the 2014 Governor's Conference on AgricultureMissouri’s FFA officer team members were guests at the Missouri House of Representatives this morning in Jefferson City. Abrea Mizer, with the Marshall FFA Chapter, is Missouri’s current FFA president.

She addressed the legislative body by saying  “It is an honor for our state FFA officer team to be here with you today. As you the legislators proudly represent the people of Missouri, we proudly represent over 25,800 Missouri FFA members.”

The Missouri FFA officer’s theme for the organization this year is “Grow your passion and unearth your purpose.” Mizer told Missouri lawmakers the FFA will continue to emphasize its goals of increased ag education. By doing so, she says, the organization is attracting more members.

AUDIO provided by Missourinet:  Abrea Mizer (6:00 mp3)

Fordyce leads Missouri Ag Conference

Missouri Agriculture Director Richard Fordyce at 2014 Missouri Governor's Conference on AgricultureThe theme of the 2014 Missouri Governor’s Conference on Agriculture in Kansas City was ‘Generations of Promise and Progress.’ Fordyce, a full-time cattleman and grain farmer in Harrison County, says the agriculture industry is strong in the state and the department will do all it can to continue to strengthen it including increasing exports and encouraging and supporting young people to farm.  Fordyce was named by Governor Nixon last month to be the new director, two months following the departure of former director Jon Hagler.

As for his message to participants in the conference, “In issues you are comfortable with, stand up and get involved.”

Commodity groups discussed the challenges facing the Missouri ag industry and a team of legal exports discussed legal challenges.  Ag youth were a big part of the conference Saturday with FFA students on stage to talk about their outreach efforts to educate people about agriculture.

On Saturday night, Governor Jay Nixon lauded the state’s farmers saying Missouri is a leader in agriculture andGovernor Jay Nixon at 2014 Missouri Governor's Conference on Agriculture, Westin Crown Plaza, Kansas City will continue to be.  He said the state “has some incredible farmers.”

Anson Eliot with Missouri State University in Springfield was named 2014 Ag Educator of the year and Janet Adkison, his one-time student, was named Missouri Agricultural Journalist of the year.  Adkison, a former Brownfield farm broadcaster, is with RFD-TV and is serving as president of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB).

Interview with Richard Fordyce (6:00 mp3)

Late South Dakota ag teacher awarded

A posthumous award has been given to commemorate the work of a South Dakota ag teacher. The late William Lehman of Gettysburg, South Dakota, was one of six chosen for the Teacher Mentor Award by the National Association of Agricultural Educators. Lehman, who died last year, had taught high school agricultural education since 1976.

NAILE Sale of Champion results

At the North American International Livestock Exposition (NAILE) Sale of Champions in Louisville, Kentucky Thursday night, six Champion and Reserve Champion animals garnered a grand total of $96,000.

Leading the way was the Grand Champion Steer exhibited by 13-year old Sutton Bellar of Wisner, Nebraska.  Bellar’s 1,315 pound crossbred steer sold for $25,000.

The Reserve Champion Steer, exhibited by Baylor Bonham of Newcastle, Oklahoma, brought $21,000.

Other results from the NAILE Sale of Champions include: 

  • Grand Champion Hog, exhibited by Lyndon Youngblood of Ashdown, Arkansas, $14,500
  • Reserve Champion Hog, exhibited by Hayden Kerkaert, Pipestone, Minnesota, $12,000
  • Grand Champion Wether Lamb, exhibited by Toree Fraze, Portales, New Mexico, $12,500
  • Reserve Champion Wether Lamb, exhibited by Samantha Raute, Carmel, Indiana, $11,000

Lyons, Nebraska Star finalist keeps busy

To make to the finals of the FFA American Star in Agri-business, Eric Miller took on quite a load. “I have commercial corn production, seed soybean production, poultry production with both broilers and show birds, as well as a lawn care business,” he told Brownfield Ag News at the National FFA Convention in Louisville, Ky. “It’s definitely kept me busy.” Miller took opportunities as they came his way. The poultry business began when he joined 4-H, the lawn care business when someone needed their lawn mowed. The agriculture enterprises came because his father farmed with his grandfather and Eric became enchanted with the business of farming.

AUDIO: Eric Miller (4 min. MP3)