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National FFA awards stars over America

The National FFA Organization recognized four students with its top honor, the American Star Awards. 

The awards were presented Wednesday night during the virtual National FFA Convention.

Blake Kirchhoff of Nebraska was awarded the Star in Agribusiness. He owns and operates a haying business for his supervised agricultural experience with the Superior FFA chapter. He also helps local farmers get in contact with buyers for their hay bales.

After he graduates from Kansas State University with an agronomy degree, he wants to run his haying business full time.

Cole Ketterling of North Dakota was named the Star Farmer. He raises beef cows for this SAE with the Wishek FFA Chapter.

Ketterling began his SAE working with his father’s cows and getting them ready for placement in a packed feedlot. He then bought his own cows and began renting land for raising cattle and crops. Ketterling says he started with 39 acres and current farms about 1,000 acres.

He recently graduated from North Dakota State University with a degree in ag economics. He is working as ag loan officer in his hometown and farming.  

Will Shelby of Oklahoma was awarded the Star in Agricultural Placement. A member of the Madill FFA Chapter, Shelby started his SAE as a veterinary assistant in his father’s large-animal practice and then last year he began work as a veterinary assistant at a practice in Cushing, Oklahoma.

In his final year at Oklahoma State University, Shelby is preparing to attend veterinary school to practice large animal veterinary medicine in rural Oklahoma.

Nicole Stevens of the Yukon FFA Chapter in Oklahoma was named the star in Agriscience.

She has been involved in various types of research, but her most recent experience was studying ruminant digestion to help formulate more cost-effective feeding practices. She says that’s especially important now because of the pandemic’s impact on the cattle industry.

After earning her master’s degree, Stevens will teach agricultural education for a few years and then return to school for her doctorate.

Each year during the National FFA Convention and Expo, four FFA members are recognized with the American Star Awards. These awards are presented to FFA members who demonstrated outstanding ag skills and competencies through completion of an SAE.

Sixteen American Star Award finalists from throughout the US were nominated by a panel of judges who then interviewed the finalists this fall. Four were named winners during the 93rd National FFA Convention and Expo, which was held virtually.

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