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Nathan Leystra combines corn on his family’s grain farm near Randolph.<br />

Nathan Leystra combines corn on his family’s grain farm near Randolph.
Photo By Supplied

Busy Randolph senior wins FFA grain proficiency award

Nov. 8, 2012 | 0 comments

One of the recent winners of a national proficiency award at the FFA convention in Indianapolis, IN, is involved and talented in so many facets of agriculture that his advisor would not be surprised to see him on the stage again accepting another award in coming years.

Nathan Leystra of Randolph FFA is the national winner of the Grain Production-Placement award and made it to Indianapolis for his interview and award ceremony; but getting to Indianapolis recently was a challenge.

He had to fit it in between football practice and a playoff game - the senior is captain of his high school football team.

Nate grew up helping out on his family's grain farm where they grow corn, soybeans and wheat near Randolph. He has learned to "do it all" - planting, harvesting and tillage - and has been gradually taking over more responsibilities there.

He has learned a lot about all phases of operating a big grain farm, including hybrid selection, harvest procedures, soil testing and crop spraying. He has become a certified pesticide applicator.

In addition to working on his family farm, he has gotten more involved in his dad's Pioneer seed business and also works for Fields Crop Care, a crop consulting company. There, he scouts fields looking for pests and giving advice on how to handle them.

He has also been an FFA member for four years and this year he's serving as chapter president.

The variety of activities he's involved in add up to a total of five proficiency applications, which he admits are "a lot of work."

They include fiber and oil crops, diversified crop production, agricultural sales and agricultural services, as well as the grain production placement award he just won.

He is the son of Todd and Sarah Leystra, who have played a big part in their son's education and FFA career and helping him juggle his many high school activities.

The trip to Indianapolis took some extra effort. He had to get to football practice, then jump in a car and drive to the FFA convention with his mom, do his interviews and accept his award so he could hightail it back to Randolph just in time for a Saturday football game.

"My mom drove me there and I think she was just about as excited about it as I was."

His two FFA advisors were also very excited about his project. Keith Gundlach, Nate's main advisor who is currently on medical leave, is optimistic that this young man may hit FFA gold again with another of his proficiency projects.

"I expect he has a pretty good chance to be on stage again," he told Wisconsin State Farmer.

Leystra has two more years of eligibility for these FFA awards, his advisor explained. "He has just been an excellent member, entering speaking contests and discussion meets, the Food for America program and developing program activities."

Gundlach said the busy young man is also captain of the football team, playing full-back and linebacker, and has been a class officer for four years. He is on the student council and the National Honor Society.

"He's a very well-rounded individual," says Gundlach. "He's outstanding in grain and oil crop production and has that extra experience of working for the crop care company, so he has a lot of insights that others might not have."

Gundlach says that his chapter president understands and is so familiar with all the application paperwork for these FFA awards that he could probably do them without help.

In addition to all his other work and activities, Nate also picks sweet corn during the summer.

In Gundlach's absence, the Randolph FFA chapter is being helped by Steve Koss, a retired agriculture teacher who formerly advised the Poynette FFA chapter. He was at Indianapolis to see Leystra get his award.

"It was exciting and there were over 55,000 people there. It was record attendance. It was a really positive experience."

After he graduates from high school next spring, Leystra plans to go to the University of Wisconsin-Platteville where he wants to major in ag business. He hopes that will lead to someday coming home to help run the family farm.

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