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Pulaski, Stevens Point, Denmark, Juda FFA chapters get big wins in Star awards

Grace Connatser
Wisconsin State Farmer
Wisconsin FFA online convention

Although this year's Future Farmers of America annual convention is online, it's not stopping Star award finalists from celebrating agriculture.

While hundreds of youths vied for these awards, only four of them could win it all as the best in a highly competitive field. Here are the winners and runners-up of the Star in Agriscience, Star in Agribusiness, Star in Agricultural Placement and Wisconsin Star Farmer awards.

Star in Agriscience

Kayla Reed

Kayla Reed won first place for the Star in Agriscience Award. Reed is a member of the Pulaski FFA chapter and is an incoming freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Her major will be Fisheries and Aquatic Science. 

Reed is interested in water quality studies. She collected water samples with the Citizens Lake Monitoring Network and has also worked for the state Department of Natural Resources and the UW-Green Bay Aquatic Ecology and Fisheries lab.

"It was a big surprise because the two other finalists were also very qualified for the award," Reed said. "I have put so much time and effort into my SAEs and projects. I’m happy that my passion in FFA can be showcased in this manner."

Her parents are Grant and Kim Reed. Her FFA advisors are Kaleb Santee, Cedric Pettis, and Terry Erdmann.

Melissa Konkel of Big Foot placed second and Reagan Russell of Shullsburg placed third in this competition.

Star in Agribusiness

Alex Brzezinski

Alex Brzezinski won first place for the Star in Agribusiness Award. Reed is a member of the Stevens Point FFA chapter and owns his own business, Al's Custom Chicken Coops, where he builds chicken coops.

Brzezinski is interested in poultry housing. He realized that he wanted to build his own chicken coops when he saw that many coops are built with low-quality materials and at high costs. He uses skills in carpentry, marketing and planning to run his business and retain satisfied customers.

"Last year I received Star in Agribusiness from my local chapter, which encouraged me to apply at the state level," Brzezinski said. "The award means a lot to me, and I will be pursuing a degree in agricultural business this fall and hope to some day run a larger agricultural business."

His parents are Gerald and Renee Brzezinski. His FFA advisors are Ione Hausler and Stephanie Beranek.

Zachary Woodworth of Shullsburg placed second; Joseph Pulver of Randolph Cambria-Friesland placed third; Carter Beaulieu of Randolph Cambria-Friesland placed fourth; and Rhiannon Reimer of Granton placed fifth in this competition.

Star in Agricultural Placement

Katrina Hoesly

Katrina Hoesly won first place for the Star in Agricultural Placement award. She is a member of the Denmark FFA chapter and works on her family's 130-year-old farm.

She is interested in a career specializing in bovine reproduction. She manages her family farm's breeding program, and she also handles cleaning the farm and cows and mixing rations. She rebuilt the operation and cared for injured cows after a devastating fire last December.

"Words cannot describe how honored and blessed I am to have received this award," Hoesly said. "It is a dream come true. This wouldn’t be be possible without my amazing Ag teachers/advisors Mary Handrich and Marty Nowak motivating me throughout my FFA journey."

Her parents are Carrie Zietlow and Seth Hoesly, and her FFA advisors are Mary Handrich and Marty Nowak.

Emily Kroll of Denmark placed second; Cortney Zimmerman of Spencer placed third; Reagan Russell of Shullsburg placed fourth; and Quentin Swanke of Montello placed fifth in this competition.

Wisconsin Star Farmer

Emily Makos

Emily Makos won first place for the Wisconsin Star Farmer award. She is a member of the Juda FFA chapter and is an incoming first-year student at Concordia University in their accelerated occupational therapy program.

Makos is an active member of the Wisconsin Rabbit Breeders Association. She received her first rabbit from her parents when she was eight years old, and today she has over 200 rabbits in a variety of breeds. She breeds her best does, averaging more than 30 kits per doe every year. She decides which rabbits to keep, which to cull for meat and which to sell as therapy animals.

"I started going to State Convention in 7th grade and it has always been a dream of mine to be up on that stage competing for Star Farmer," Makos said. "This industry has been life changing for me! It has helped me grow as a person and as a leader."

Her parents are Eric and Jody Makos, and her FFA advisor is Jenna Beitz.

Everlah Riley of Waupaca placed second; Carson Lobdell of Darlington placed third; Cortney Zimmerman of Spencer placed fourth; and Morgan Vondra of Mineral Point placed fifth.