Three Wisconsin FFA youth win national proficiency honors

Wisconsin State Farmer
National FFA Convention and Expo

Three Wisconsin FFA members have earned national proficiency honors during the virtual 93rd National FFA Convention & Expo this week. Ten members from FFA chapters across Wisconsin had earned finalists honors in their respective proficiency areas, competing against FFA members across the nation.


Tyler Gardner of the Pittsville FFA Chapter was selected as the winner of the national FFA Fruit Production Proficiency award.

Gardner works for his family's cranberry production operation where he is involved in cultivar selection, planting, nutrition, harvesting, and distribution of the crop. The family operation consists of 1,700 acres of cranberry beds and an additional 10,000 acres of supported land. Tyler also helps lead insect, weed and disease management of the cranberry enterprise.

Tyler Gardner

He is the son of Janeen and Thomas, and his FFA advisor is Lindsay Meissner.

Specialty Animal Production

Andrew Mehus of the Cochrane-Fountain City FFA Chapter was the winner of the Specialty Animal Production Proficiency award.

Andrew Mehus

Andrew helps manage a closed herd of200 head of Rocky Mountain Elk. The elk are raised primarily for the mineral content found in the growing antlers of their bulls, including Glucosamine Sulfate, Collagen Type II, and Chondroitin Sulfate.

These minerals help the human body build new cells faster and repair and strengthen muscles. Bulls that are too old to produce, they will be slaughtered, producing lean meat that is low in cholesterol and heart-healthy.

Mehus is the son of Scott and Laurie Mehus. His FFA advisor is Christine Jumbeck.

Small Animal Production and Care –Entrepreneurship/Placement

Emily P. Makos of the Juda FFA Chapter earned top honors in the Small Animal Production and Care Proficiency project.

Makos began her supervised agricultural experience (SAE) when she was eight years old, receiving her first rabbit that has served as the foundation of her current herd. Her rabbit project has grown from one breed and three rabbits to more than 200 rabbits, including New Zealands, Californians, Polish, and Mini Rex.  She has attended the American Rabbit Breeders Association rabbit show and learned from others in the field.

Emily Makos

She is the daughter of Jody and Eric Makos. Her FFA advisors are Jenna Beitz and Joseph Lyne.

Other Wisconsin FFA members that competed for Agricultural Proficiency Awards are as follows: to wildlife management.

Beef Production – Placement

Cortney Zimmerman of the Spencer FFA Chapter started work on the family farm as a little girl, becoming the designated bucket carrier and feed pan stacker. Today, she has worked her way up to the position of herd manager for Zimmerman Simmentals. She focuses on herd health, genetics, calving, and nutrition. She manages the Purebred and Percentrage Simmentals, including 30 cows, two bulls, ten replacement heifers, and 25 calves.  Zimmerman is supported by her parents, Cheryl and Mark, and her FFA advisor, Mark Zimmerman.

Dairy Production – Entrepreneurship

With the help of his grandparents, Matthew Fischer of the Owen-Withee FFA Chapter started a herd of Jerseys with a cow they gifted him for a birthday present as a child.  His heifers transfer into the milking herd after about 23 months. His milk cows typically are in the herd for three to four lactations and he generates two to three quality heifer calves from each cow in her lifetime. At the end of 2019, he had 33 animals in his herd.  Fischer is supported by his parents, Sara and Paul Fischer, and his FFA advisor, Travis Engel.

Diversified Horticulture

Amara Livingston of the Cochrane-Fountain City FFA Chapter has her own business named 2nd Street Daylilies and also works at a local vineyard and local flower shop. At her business, she hybridizes and sells daylily plants. She currently works at Hy-Vee Floral and Danzinger Vineyards, enjoying the challenge of working in both sun and rain. Livingston is supported by her parents, Marie and Lawrence and her FFA advisor, Christine Jumbeck

Goat Production

Tesse Gehri of the Wonewoc Center FFA Chapter owns her own breeding and showing goat operation. She raises and breeds an average of 20 Boer and milking goats each year.  She breeds mature does once a year, trying to get the perfect conformation and best producing goat.  She has won many first place ribbons and overall champion of the show with her Alpine and Boer goats. She is the daughter of Amanda and Rocky Gehri. Her FFA advisor is Jacqueline Miller.

Service Learning –Entrepreneurship/Placement

Tristan Wirkus of the Stratford FFA Chapter has completed 400 hours of agricultural-related community service by the end of his senior year of high school. One of the many committees that he serves on is the Stratford Tree Advisory Board. There, he works to educate the public about protecting nature and the importance of healthy trees. He planned a community-wide environmental day, built lending libraries, led a tree identification course, and removed invasive Buckthorn. Wirkus helped the community attain Tree City USA status as a result.  He is supported by his parents, Rebecca and Tony, and his FFA advisors, Rebecca Wirkus and Troy Bargender.

Sheep Production-Entrepreneurship/Placement

Carson Lobdell of the Darlington FFA Chapter owns a flock of 194 purebred Southdowns with his family. He also owns one hundred percent of a Dorper flock that he started in 2012 with the purchases of his few ewes. He now owns thirteen ewes and fourteen ewe lambs. His work with the sheep flock includes making breeding decisions, assisting with lambing, tagging, docking, vaccinating, feeding, and showing his sheep. Lobdell is supported by his parents, Barbara and Troy, and his FFA advisors, Justin Doyle and Troy Lobdell.

Specialty Crop Production –Entrepreneurship/Placement

Allison Lund of the Cambridge FFA Chapter works with her family’s tobacco operation.  The farm has existed for nearly 130 years and she is involved in all processes in the production, including planting, hoeing, topping, harvesting, and stripping. Lund has been involved in the operation for more than seven years.  She is supported by her parents, Judy and Dennis, and her FFA advisor, Emily Klingbell.