Aaron Zimmerman, son of Mark and Cheryl Zimmerman, Spencer, made Wisconsin FFA history when he was chosen for the Star in Agriscience Award, Star in Agribusiness Award and earned the Star Farmer award. He was presented with the awards last week during the state FFA Convention in Madison. Zimmerman also was selected by the delegation to serve on the state officer team for 2012-2013 and he was first in the job interview competition and placed second in the state discussion meet during the convention. Photo By Gloria Hafemeister
Zimmerman makes FFA history as multi-award recipient
Aaron Zimmerman was flying high at the Wisconsin State FFA convention in Madison after making Wisconsin FFA history as a multi-award recipient.
Zimmerman, of the Spencer FFA, was named Wisconsin Star Farmer, Star in Agriscience, and Star in Agri-Business.
Soon after the announcement of those awards, Zimmerman's name was also called to be part of the 2012-13 state officer team. In addition he placed first in the state for the job interview contest and was the runner-up in the discussion meet.
When speaking with the Wisconsin State Farmer he said he was a bit overwhelmed at being selected for these awards.
"It was a complete adrenaline rise," he said.
He said he hoped to receive something but since the competition was so great he never imagined he would win these top three awards.
As for being named to the officer team, he said he knows something about what's involved in that opportunity since his mother, Cheryl, has served as the association's executive director since the time he was born.
Zimmerman's SAE started when his grandfather bought a heifer at the Minnesota State Simmental Sale in 2003 and encouraged him to show it at the fair.
He says, "Since then I was hooked on raising and showing beef cattle. Since my family doesn't live on a farm I wondered if I'd ever be able to continue showing but now I keep them at a farm near our home. I currently have 30 head."
Following the FFA tradition, Zimmerman has always set goals for himself. One was to produce a successful show heifer out of his own cows. A long-term goal was to produce a bull high quality enough that he can be placed in a bull stud. A third is to expand the opportunity to show and participate in livestock events.
He has met all three of those goals and plans to continue that effort to finance his education at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls where he will work toward an animal science degree.
In the future he wants to obtain a job involving animal science and genetics, working with artificial insemination and embryo transfer and also own his own beef cattle business.
His Star in Agribusiness award stems from his skills as a graphic artist and his work to incorporate those skills designing brochures, websites and videos promoting his cattle.
After creating graphic design materials and videos for his FFA chapter and for marketing his own livestock he carried it a step further by performing this service for others.
The Star AgriScience award is a result of numerous research projects he has worked on over the years. He says, "I have incorporated all the agri-science projects I did in the past. I went four times to the National AgriScience Fair."
All of his projects have involved improving meat quality and taste. He says. "Since I work with beef cattle, it has been interesting to do experiments dealing with meat science."
His most recent research was testing cow enzymes to see how tender each of them made the meat. He has also conducted experiments dealing with botany and environmental science.
Over the years he has been encouraged by his parents and he drew a great deal of inspiration from the late Matt Andersen who had served as State FFA president when Zimmerman was just getting started in project work. Andersen lost his life in a farm accident.
Zimmerman encourages FFA members to work with their FFA advisors to develop projects that incorporate their personal interests.
For Zimmerman, combining his interest in showing beef cattle, marketing beef cattle and improving cattle and meat in the future led to three impressive awards.
More importantly, however, the combination of these efforts has helped him see the big picture as he moves toward a career in producing food for a hungry world.