Four Wisconsin FFA members left the National FFA Convention last week with National Proficiency Awards in their hands.
Ashley Orr of Waupaca FFA Chapter won the Diversified Livestock Production Award, and Nathan Leystra of Randolph-Cambria-Friesland FFA Chapter won the Proficiency Award in Grain Production-Placement. Thomas Allen of Reedsburg FFA won the Proficiency Award in Dairy Production-Entrepreneurship, and Joshua Bruckert of Sauk Prairie FFA won the Proficiency Award in Wildlife Production and Management.
The winners of the Agricultural Proficiency Awards were announced Oct. 26 in Indianapolis, IN.
The FFA’s Agricultural Proficiency Awards honor members who developed specialized skills through their Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) that they can apply towards future careers.
The National FFA Organization’s Agricultural Proficiency Awards program recognizes outstanding student achievement in agribusiness gained through establishment of a new business, working for an existing company, performing agriscience research or otherwise gaining hands-on career experience in 49 areas.
Wisconsin had 14 state FFA members who went to the National FFA Convention as national Proficiency Award finalists.
A total of 55,000 FFA members attended the National FFA Convention and Expo, which took place Oct. 24-27.
When he was 12 years old, Allen’s grandfather, David Allen, bought him four Jerseys with the agreement that the younger Allen would pay him back. He currently owns 41 head of cattle.
While raising Jerseys and making milk is part of Allen’s business, he has excelled in the world of genetics. He currently has seven bulls bearing the All-Lynn prefix standing at four A.I. companies, and he has contracts for a dozen more, plus he is working to expand the number of bull studs with which he works.
In addition to doing a lot of ET work and marketing both bulls and heifers, Allen has gained experience with genomics. He has his animals genotyped and uses that information to decide on matings.
Allen is a freshman majoring in dairy science at Northeast Iowa Community College in Calmar, IA. At the end of his sophomore year, he plans to transfer to either the University of Wisconsin-River Falls or Iowa State University.
“I want to work in the dairy industry, and ultimately what I want to do is own my own herd but work for a bull stud,” he explains. “Ultimately, I’d like to be a dairy-herd analyst.”
Allen is the son of Troy Allen and Leigh Toberman of Reedsburg. His FFA advisors are Todd Cherney and Nick Casey.
Joshua Bruckert, the son of Tim and Cheryl Bruckert, has worked to improve the wildlife diversity and quality of wildlife habitat on a farm where his uncle, Brian Kindschi, is an owner.
His work has included planning, planting, improving and caring for food plots for deer, turkey and other wildlife, using trail cameras to monitor wildlife patterns and determining the number of deer that can be harvested from the farm’s 160-acre wooded area.
In all, he has put in eight food plots covering roughly 35 acres. They have installed three ponds, and Bruckert works to ensure the ponds are free of debris and that roads installed five or six years ago are passable.
While Bruckert’s work has involved attracting a wide variety of wildlife, one focus is to ensure a quality deer herd, one with a good ratio of bucks to does and a range in the age of bucks.
“It’s produced a lot of change,” Bruckert says of the habitat work he’s done. “In four years, we’ve seen an increase of four to five times the amount of wildlife. Before, it was just a pass-through area ... and we’re really happy with the results we’ve had.”
Bruckert is a freshman at UW-Stevens Point, majoring in business. He plans to transfer next fall to UW-Madison and plans to graduate with degrees in agribusiness and applied economics, with a minor in wildlife ecology.
His career goal is to start a business with his best friend, Luke Drachenburg from Arena, to help landowners develop wildlife programs on their property, and to go into ag consulting, helping farmers improve their efficiency.
Troy Talford is Bruckert’s FFA advisor.
Like a lot of farm kids, Nate Leystra started helping out on his family’s farm as a youngster. His FFA Supervised Agricultural Experience focused on corn production on his family’s three-generation, 1,000-acre corn, soybean and wheat farm.
He has gained experience in and exposure to all phases of the operation, from hybrid selection to harvesting. He has learned managerial skills that include taking and reading soil tests and moisture samples, and he has become a certified pesticide applicator.
Working with his FFA advisor Keith Gundlach has taught him a lot about keeping records, he says. In a Placement SAE, keeping track of the hours worked for a business is one important record that is kept, as is a record of the skills performed.
“He’s taught me about good record keeping and doing things efficiently,” Leystra says of Gundlach. “I make sure I do it right the first time.”
That practice came in handy in the last few months when Gundlach was on medical leave from his job. Leystra, as FFA chapter president, and the other FFA officers have stepped up to the plate to do many of the tasks their advisor typically has done, including organizing activities and volunteers.
Leystra, the son of Todd and Sarah Leystra of Randolph, is a senior at Randolph High School. He plans to attend UW-Platteville in the fall to pursue a degree in agribusiness and hopes to become a partner in the family farm.
Diversified Livestock Production
The oldest of seven children of Dean and Michelle Orr of Waupaca, Ashley Orr grew up helping on the farm.
For her SAE, she played an integral role in the family’s production and marketing of meat from grass-fed livestock. With 26 acres of rotational grazing as its cornerstone, the enterprise includes raising Dorper sheep, pigs, chicken and dairy beef cattle.
In addition to the daily care of the animals, she is involved in tasks like vaccinating the animals, processing chickens, pricing their products and decision-making.
Orr and her mother market meat at farmers’ markets and on the farm, and talking with their customers led the Orrs to add free-range eggs to the products they sell.
“We’re big on helping people understand how their food is raised. I really like being able to educate people and talking to them and learning their perspective,” she says.
Graduating in 2012 from Waupaca High School as its salutatorian, Orr is a freshman at UW-River Falls and is majoring in animal science. She is considering a career as an animal ultrasound specialist or working in animal reproduction.
Jennifer Erb and Rene Lehman are her FFA advisors.
In the Agriscience Fair at the National FFA Convention, Emily Herness of Whitehall FFA placed seventh, earning a gold emblem, in the animal systems division, division one. Cora Demler of Pecatonia FFA placed third, earning a gold, in division two, and Seth Loudenbeck and Jack Berry, both of Big Foot FFA, both placed eighth, earning silver emblems in division four.
In the Environmental Services/Natural Resource Systems competition, Dakota Turk of Big Foot FFA placed eighth, earning a silver emblem, in division one, and Brittany Rambutt, also of Big Foot FFA, earned silver in division two. The team of Brianna Beseler and Deanna Wiersgalla of Cochrane-Fountain City FFA, placed fourth, earning a silver emblem, in division three, and the team of Jacob Pintens and Grandon Schiel of Barron FFA placed fourth, earning a gold emblem, in division four.
In Food Products and Processing Systems, Katlynn Tuschner of Independence FFA earned a bronze emblem in division one, while the team of David Pintens and Sarah Pintens, both of Barron FFA, placed sixth, earning a silver emblem, in division three.
In Plant Systems, Camille Miles of Whitehall FFA, earned a bronze emblem in division one, and Serena Krause of Big Foot FFA placed sixth in division two, earning a silver emblem.
In the Power, Structural and Technical Systems competition, the team of Tony Gordon and Brandon Hilger, both of New Auburn FFA, placed fifth in division three, earning silver emblems, and Dru Galetka and Blake Miller, also of New Auburn FFA, placed fourth in division four, both earning gold emblems.
In the Social Systems competition, the team of Tyler Huettenrauch and Jacob Ebert, both of Wrightstown FFA, placed fifth in division three, both earning silver emblems.
Career Development Events
Wisconsin’s dairy competitors did the Dairy State proud at the National FFA Convention.
Wisconsin’s Dairy Cattle Evaluation team, from Amery FFA, earned second place in the national contest, earning a gold emblem. Trent Dado was ranked the top individual in the contest, followed by Ethan Dado, who placed third in the contest, and Laura Jensen, who placed fourth. All three, as well as team member Chelsey Jensen, earned individual gold emblems.
In the Dairy Handlers competition, Jessica Pralle of Osseo-Fairchild FFA took top honors.
Here are the results of the other Wisconsin judging teams that competed in Career Development Events during the National FFA Convention:
Wisconsin’s Ag Communications team, from Granton FFA, earned a silver emblem. Mary Olson earned an individual gold in the contest, and Olivia Verkilen and Jeff Richmond earned bronze emblems.
The Lancaster FFA team, representing Wisconsin in the Agronomy competition, earned a bronze emblem. Team members Robert Haas, Adam Henry, Rene Schmidt and Tyler Streif all earned individual bronze emblems.
In Ag Sales, the Hillsboro FFA team earned a bronze emblem, with team members Mitch Beckwith, John Dank, Cooper Gunderson and Alex Shaker all earning individual bronze emblems.
In the Ag Technology competition, the Viroqua FFA team placed fifth nationally, earning a gold emblem. Individually, Thomas Larson placed third in the contest, earning a gold, and Ethan Ambort and Clay Fitzpatrick earned gold, while Collin Leer earned a silver emblem.
In the Environmental and Natural Resources contest, Waterford Union FFA earned a silver rating, with John Beneke earning an individual silver emblem and team members Jesse Bouffiou, Philip David and Sarah Heyer all earning bronze.
In Farm Business Management, the Mosinee FFA team earned a silver emblem. Team members Maverick Ashbeck, Julie Kijak and Becky Sondelski all earned individual silver, and Marissa Nechuta earned a bronze emblem.
In Floriculture, the Plymouth FFA team earned a silver emblem. Sara Degroff earned a gold emblem, and team members Andrew Levson, Emma Addy and Rebekah Schaulk earned individual silver emblems.
The Oconto Falls FFA team earned a silver rating in the Food Science contest. Deanna Cahoon-Draus earned an individual gold, Isaac Cupino and Brittany Iverson both earned individual silver and Emily Konitzer earned a bronze emblem.
In Forestry, the Stanley-Boyd FFA team won a bronze emblem. Josh Brunner and Amy Plecheck both earned individual silver emblems, while Matt Brunner and Kyle Ogle earned bronze.
The Horse Evaluation team from Baraboo FFA earned a silver emblem, with Tessa Wagner earning individual gold and Danielle Braun and Julie Schick both earning individual silver emblems.
Aaron Zimmerman earned a silver emblem in the Job Interview contest.
The Iowa-Grant FFA earned a silver rating in the Livestock Evaluation competition. Team members Erica Thomas, Megan Thomas and Jacob Yelinek earned individual silver emblems, and Bailey Fritsch earned a bronze.
The Colby FFA team earned a bronze emblem in the Marketing Plan competition. Team members Bradley Kolzow, Evan Ensign and Taylor Halopka all received individual bronze emblems.
The River Ridge FFA team earned a bronze emblem in the Meats Evaluation and Technology contest. Sabrina White earned an individual silver emblem, and Mitchell Cooley, Alexander Morgan and Zachary Schroeder earned bronze.
In the Milk Quality contest, Hillsboro FFA earned a silver emblem, with Matthew Anderson and Leeta Russell both earning individual silver and Emily Beyer and Jaimy Pattit earning bronze emblems.
In the Nursery competition, Oshkosh West FFA earned a silver rating. Kyle Kettner earned an individual gold emblem, and Bryce Rennert and Brady Rennert both earned individual silver.
In the Poultry contest, Brillion FFA earned a silver rating, with team members Max Calaway, Philip Geiger, Daniel Saubert and Austin Stebane all earning individual silver emblems.