Nebraska ‘college savings’ scholarships presented

Winners of Nebraska’s fourth annual “NEST on the Farm” scholarship contest have been announced.

NEST is short for Nebraska Educational Savings Trust, which is Nebraska’s state-sponsored 529 (five-twenty-nine) college savings program.  The scholarship contest is for children of Nebraska farm and ranch families who are invited to submit essays describing what farming means in their lives and how growing up in farm families influences their higher education goals.

nest on the farmThis year’s winner in the 7-9 age group was Tucker Stagemeyer of Page with Kallie Eisenzimmer of Big Springs as runner-up.  In the 10-11 age group Makenna Eisenzimmer of Big Springs was the winner with Sheridan Chaney of Elwood as runner-up.  In the 12-13 age group the winner was Jace Stagemeyer of Page with Jayla Froman of Lynch as runner-up.

The first-place winners received a $2,500 contribution each to the NEST 529 College Savings Plan while the runners-up received $1,000 contributions.

Nebraska state treasurer Don Stenberg recognized the winners during a ceremony at the Nebraska State Fair. “Thank you to all the young people who participated in our NEST on the Farm scholarship contest and who wrote so persuasively about their connection to Nebraska farm life and their educational goals for the future,” Stenberg said. “These young people represent the best Nebraska has to offer—our young people who work hard, strive to do well in school and their activities, and who value their families and their agricultural roots.

“We’re glad to present this program and give scholarships to recognize outstanding achievement among Nebraska farm and ranch kids—and to promote and encourage Nebraskans to look at the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust as a way to save for college for their kids or for their grandkids,” Stenberg said.

Money for the NEST on the Farm scholarships comes from First National Bank of Omaha, program manager for NEST, as part of its scholarship initiative.

AUDIO: Don Stenberg (3:43 MP3)

CME leader says youth critical to ag’s future

Terry Duffy, CME Group chairman and president, 2014 Illinois State Fair

Terry Duffy, CME Group chairman and president, 2014 Illinois State Fair

The chairman and president of the CME Group in Chicago came to the Illinois State Fair last week to show his support of county and state fairs and ag youth.  Terry Duffy said, “I’m very passionate about agriculture and the future of it because I don’t see too many businesses out there that have the growth potential that agriculture does.”

Duffy says people take agriculture for granted and that’s troubling to him, “When you look at the average age of a farmer, at 55.9 years of age, and where this industry could be going – it scares me. So, I have 11-year-old twin boys and I want to see them be able to prosper in this great country. And, I think people have kind of lost their way and it’s not their fault or anyone else’s fault about what really is America.”

Duffy says he wants to see more young people get involved in not only production agriculture but in ag financial services.  The CME group donates to 4-H and sponsors the Commodity Carnival at fairs across the country as an ag education tool for young people.

AUDIO: Interview with Terry Duffy thanks to Steve Bridge – WFMB Radio (7:30 mp3)

4-H, FFA panel: education, communication are keys to future

Gov. Jay Nixon at the Missouri State Fair

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Missouri’s 4-H and FFA leaders agree that education and communication are keys to the state’s agriculture future.  In a roundtable discussion at the State Fair, the Governor, Missouri Director of Agriculture Richard Fordyce talked about how best to ensure that young people interested in agricultural careers can find success in Missouri.

Following the discussion, Missouri FFA President Cole Edwards of Salisbury, Missouri, told Brownfield that his opinions are taken seriously.

Missouri FFA President Cole Edwards, Salisbury, addresses Gov. Nixon during a roundtable discussion at the State Fair, Aug. 13, 2014.

“Those people in positions, the elected officials of our state, definitely do care about us and our future, not only in agriculture, but also our place in the work force throughout the state of Missouri and beyond,” said Edwards.

Citing a growing global population to feed, Governor Nixon told Brownfield that it’s obvious the eight young leaders who he spoke with are ready to compete.

Missouri Dir. of Agriculture Richard Fordyce and Gov. Nixon lead a roundtable discussion the Missouri 4-H and FFA leaders at the State Fair, Aug. 13, 2014.

“And that’s what you want to see, you want to see folks that understand that the shift from local and regional economies to a world economy, especially in the agriculture area where we have to depend on significant exports, is extremely important,” said the governor.  “You want young folks that are ready to compete worldwide and these kids are great examples of that.”

About seventy-five people gathered to hear the meeting among Governor Nixon, Director Fordyce and the young leaders.

AUDIO: Governor Jay Nixon (1 min MP3)

AUDIO: Cole Edwards (2 min. MP3)

AUDIO: State Fair Governor’s Roundtable Discussion (36 min. MP3)


Missouri Gov. Nixon leads roundtable discussion with 4-H and FFA leaders at the Missouri State Fair, Aug. 13, 2014.

Missouri FFA President Cole Edwards, Salisbury, addresses Gov. Nixon during a roundtable discussion at the State Fair, Aug. 13, 2014.

Missouri Dir. of Agriculture Richard Fordyce and Gov. Nixon lead a roundtable discussion the Missouri 4-H and FFA leaders at the State Fair, Aug. 13, 2014.

Missouri State Fair investing in the next generation

The Missouri State Fair Commission’s new vision statement describes the fair “as an agricultural classroom offering Missouri producers and agricultural leaders opportunities to exhibit current practices and new technology and to provide a showcase of high-quality livestock, agricultural products, and industrial displays.”

Chairman of the Missouri State Fair Commission, Jack Magruder of Kirksville

Chairman Dr. Jack Magruder of Kirksville, tells Brownfield the State Fair Commission kept youth in mind when determining its core values.

“One of those core values is providing opportunities for youth in agriculture that will enable them to become the finest leaders in the world in the agricultural industry.”

“Whether you are involved in agriculture or a consumer of food,” Magruder said, “there is something for you to learn at the Missouri State Fair.’

Youth participants in the opening day ceremonies for 112th Missouri State Fair included Cole Edwards, President of the Missouri FFA Association and Trent Ludwig, President of the state 4-H Council, together representing more than 126,000 youth members.

The 112th Missouri State Fair kicked off today, August 7, in Sedalia. It continues through August 17.

Conversation with Dr. Jack Magruder

Getting youth excited about agriculture

This morning DuPont executive vice-president Jim Borel took to the Red Gold stage in the DuPont Food Pavilion to talk about what the company is doing to actively engage the next generation of agriculturalists to find solutions to feed the growing world population.

In the US, the company is very involved in 4-H and FFA.  But, Borel tells Brownfield they’re doing something different overseas.

“We have a project with the National 4-H Council for Global 4-H and sub-saharan Africa that we sponsored a leadership institute, to train adults to work with young people,” he says.  “As part of that, we’re creating enterprise gardens as part of the 4-H clubs in five different countries.  Through an enterprise garden, a group of young people can learn about agriculture.  They can learn about nutrition. And, they can learn business because they sell the produce.”

Through they garden, Borel says they hope to inspire young people to pursue careers in agriculture.  The goal, he adds, is to engage 2 million young people in agriculture and food science by 2020.

AUDIO: Jim Borel, DuPont Pioneer (4:30mp3)


Nebraska farm kids eligible for scholarship contest

Nebraska farm kids can win a college savings plan scholarship of up to $2,500 by entering the fourth annual “NEST on the Farm” scholarship contest.

NEST stands for Nebraska Educational Savings Trust, which administers Nebraska’s 529 College Savings Plans.

The scholarship contest is open to children and teens ages seven to 13 who live on Nebraska farms or ranches or whose parents work on a Nebraska farm or ranch. To enter, they must submit an essay describing how being in a farming or ranching family influences his or her higher education goals.

“We are always so impressed with the thoughtfulness and depth of these essays that are submitted. It always comes through, the importance of farm life and educational goals for the future,” says Christina Kahler, marketing director for NEST, “It’s easy to tell that the young people that enter this contest work very hard at home and in school, and they really value their families and their agricultural roots.”

AUDIO: Christina Kahler (3:19 MP3)

Leigh Jahnke

Leigh Jahnke

Leigh Jahnke of Bancroft received one of the $2,500 scholarships in 2013. She says it was well worth the time it took to write an essay and she encourages others to submit an entry.

“Definitely they need to do it. It’s a great experience—it’s awesome,” Jahnke says. “It will help you later in your life. Once you go to college it will help and it just helps you figure out about yourself—and the farm.”

AUDIO: Leigh Jahnke (3:40 MP3)

A total of $10,500 in scholarships will be awarded to contest winners and runners-up. Winners will be recognized at this year’s Nebraska State Fair.

The contest entry deadline is July 7, 2014.  For more information, go to

Swine Show success for Illinois siblings

Maddie Caldwell, Elmwood Illinois at World Pork Expo 2014 Junior National Swine Show

Maddie Caldwell

The Caldwell family of Elmwood, Illinois took home a number of awards from the Junior National Swine Show at the World Pork Expo last week in Iowa.  Maddie Caldwell has competed at the Expo six of the seven years she’s been showing pigs and tells Brownfield it’s exciting to compete at this level, “This is the biggest as well as the first show of the season that we usually have. We’ll go on to show at CPS and Louisville within the next month.”Caldwell won for Reserve overall Duroc and Reserve overall Yorkshire.  Her “baby” – as she calls her – is Darla, the Duroc, “Her and I have gotten along pretty well throughout this year. I tend to lean more toward the Duroc breed because they’re red-colored as well as my hair so we kind of have a little connection, I think.”

She says these shows can be a mini-vacation for the pigs when they’re not in the ring, “At home they really don’t get any breaks. We walk them quite a bit a day, trying to get around 40 minutes before we come to this show, for them to build up their endurance. They get rinsed quite a few times a day (here) to keep them cool because they don’t have sweat glands. We try to just keep them comfortable here at these shows because they’re working pretty hard out in that ring,
sometimes can be out there for quite some time.”

[Read more...]

Hot job market for ag college grads

The job market for ag college graduates is sizzling hot right now.

“In terms of a prosperous career, right now, agriculture is king,” says Mike Gaul, director of career services at Iowa State University (ISU).

Gaul says a whopping 98 percent of graduates from the ISU College of Ag and Life Sciences are finding jobs within six months of graduation.

“When we look at a few of the majors out there, such as Ag Business, Agronomy, Food Science…really, a lot of those majors there, I would almost put on the verge of being no-brainer type job markets for students who put forth any motivation with their job search at all,” Gaul says. “It’s just that strong.”

ISU’s College of Ag and Life Sciences graduated its largest class ever this spring, around 600 students. Gaul says the primary major for 75 of those grads was Ag Business.

“I think 69 of them have jobs…for a 90-plus-percent at-graduation placement rate,” Gaul says. “I guarantee you, there are very few majors in this country that can claim that type of success.”

Gaul says many of the ag college grads are entering jobs with starting salaries of 50- to 60-thousand dollars per year.

Radio Iowa contributed to this story.

Iowa FFA president delivers final address

earll-josh-iowa ffaAt last week’s state FFA convention in Ames, Josh Earll of Sibley delivered his final address as the 2013-14 president of the Iowa FFA Association.

The title of his speech was “Playing Cards”.

“My main message was it’s not the cards you’re dealt, it’s how you play them,” Earll says. “So essentially just saying that it doesn’t matter your background or your situations you may have in life—it’s how you react to those and how you become better from those.”

Earll is a sophomore at Iowa State University majoring in ag education.

The new president of Iowa FFA is Abrah Meyer of the Wapsie Valley FFA at Fairbank.

AUDIO: Interview with Josh Earll (2:25 MP3)


Focus on rural strengths to attract and keep young

A discussion on Capitol Hill about keeping and attracting more people to rural areas to improve economic development turned to the subject of young people. Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly told Doug O’Brien, USDA Undersecretary for Rural Development, that it’s a big concern of his, “One of the things I worry about is losing our young people in a lot of our rural communities. It’s jobs, it’s quality of life, it is the chance to have them trained with appropriate skills, to have the infrastructure in the town or community to encourage good jobs to come,” says Donnelly.

O’Brien said the new regional systems provision in the Farm Bill will help communities leverage their dollars in rural areas to promote the things that will help attract young people and help keep them there.

“One of the basic tenants of a lot of the regional strategies is look at the assets you have, focusing on those recreational and natural assets, lifting up with some relatively low investments. It might be in a bike trail, it might be in a music festival,” says O’Brien.

Another requirement, he says, is having high-speed broadband access in all rural areas. He says the USDA has been working on that but there is still work to do.

AUDIO: Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana and USDA Under Secretary Doug O’Brien

Farm bill supports REGIONAL development