Wisconsin youth attend New Century Farmer conference

Colleen Kottke
Wisconsin State Farmer
FFA members Emily Matzke (from left) Samuel Peetz and Rachel Damm represented Wisconsin during the 2019 New Century Farmer conference in Indianapolis, Ind., earlier this summer.

Three Wisconsin college students were among 36 FFA members chosen nationwide to participate in the 2019 New Century Farmer conference in Indianapolis, Ind. This exclusive, highly competitive program develops young men and women committed to pursuing a career in production agriculture.

The program is designed to provide participants with valuable skills and knowledge applicable to their farm/ranch operations.

Wisconsin FFA members include Rachel Damm, Emily Matzke and Samuel Peetz.

Matzke, who is majoring in Animal Science & Life Sciences Communications at UW Madison, said those involved in production agriculture certainly don't do it for the long hours, hard work and paycheck.

"We love production agriculture because of the people that belong to this community," she said.

FFA members took part in an intensive seminar six-day seminar July 7 to 12 and heard from industry experts during a series of workshops and sessions. Throughout the experience, New Century Farmers learned ways to overcome common challenges faced by farmers and how they can grow personally and professionally.

In addition, they also learned about profiting from value-added products, utilizing emerging technology, and networking with other agriculturists.

During the week, Matzke says she has 34 other people to her circle of friends involved in production agriculture.

"From vegetable production on the east coast, to cattle and crops in the Midwest, to a dairy farm in California and an entertainment farm in New Mexico, these people all came to the New Century Farmer Conference, hosted by the National FFA Organization, ready to learn and grow as production agriculturalists, and we all walked away with that accomplished," Matzke said.

Damm says the conference has been an amazing experience, from tours of a creamery, to CNH and visiting a shrimp farm. Most of all, she's values the opportunity to build a network of colleagues to access throughout her agricultural career.

"The stories and friendships are something I'll ways treasure," Damm noted on a post on her Facebook page.

Corteva AgriScience, Case IH, CHS Foundation, Farm Credit, Nutrien Ag Solutions, and Successful Farming served as sponsors of the New Century Farmer conference.