Spotlight on this year's Stars Over Wisconsin winners

Grace Connatser
Wisconsin State Farmer

The 92nd Wisconsin FFA Convention was inhabited by a special atmosphere this week – the excitement of finally coming back together after COVID-19 caused the 2020 convention to become a virtual event.

This year's Star Award finalists were especially ready to hit the stage and receive recognition for their agricultural projects that will help them come closer to a career in agriculture. The Stars in Agribusiness, Agriscience and Agriculture Placement and the Star Farmer.

The Stars Over Wisconsin honors are the highest awards a student can win at the state-level during the 92nd Wisconsin FFA Convention.

Randy Winch of the Fennimore FFA was the winner of the Star Farmer award. He is joined by the top finalists Kaelyn Sumner of Pulaski, runner-up, Madison Russell, third; Libby Hashheider, Sauk Prairie, fourth; and Sophie Larson, Reedsburg, fifth.

Wisconsin Star Farmer

Randy Winch, from the Fennimore FFA chapter, was named the Wisconsin Star Farmer for 2021. Winch has grown and raised an 18-head herd of registered Milking Shorthorns and he fully manages all decisions surrounding the herd. He has also learned how to maintain and work with robotic milkers that his family bought for their own dairy farm. Additionally, Winch has received recognition at cattle shows with two heifers being nominated for Jr. All-American and All-American Milking Shorthorn.

Winch will attend South Dakota State University later this year to study agricultural engineering and computer science. He said his career aspirations include designing farm essentials like barns and cattle equipment. Winch's parents are Peter and Christina Winch and his advisor is Mrs. Shelby Mitchell.

Finalists for Star Farmer included Kaelyn Sumner (Pulaski, 2nd); Madison Russell (Shullsburg, 3rd); Libby Hasheider (Sauk Prairie, 4th); and Sophia Larson (Reedsburg, 5th).

Kendra Goplin of Whitehall FFA was names Star in Agricultural Placement. She is joined by finalists, Ashley Johnson, Weyauwega-Fremont, runner-up; Lauren Weigel, Marshfield, third; Alexandria Nowak, Denmark, fourth; and Brooke Kiefer, Slinger, fifth.

Wisconsin Star in Agricultural Placement

Kendra Goplin, from Whitehall FFA, was named this year's Star in Agricultural Placement. Passionate about ag education, Goplin sprang into action upon witnessing firsthand the effects COVID-19 had on schooling. She created digital notebooks for ag teachers across the state. Goplin is also fully responsible for raising and training the show string for Xtreme Swiss and M&M Swiss.

Goplin will attend South Dakota State University to study agricultural education, communications and leadership. She said she hopes to become an ag teacher after college, already having taught lessons to more than 1,800 students throughout Wisconsin as the Trempeleau County Farm Bureau ag promotions chair. Goplin's parents are Shane and Melinda Goplin and her advisor is Mrs. Melinda Goplin.

Finalists for Star in Agricultural Placement included Ashley Johnson (Weyauwega, 2nd); Lauren Weigel (Marshfield, 3rd); Alexandra Nowak (Denmark, 4th); and Brooke Kiefer (Slinger, 5th).

Caleb Gotham of New Auburn FFA is the Star in AgriScience. He is joined by finalists Megan Culpitt, Cashton and Madison Russell, Shullsburg.

Wisconsin Star in Agriscience

Caleb Gotham, of New Auburn FFA, was named the 2021 Star in Agriscience for Wisconsin. Gotham has created many successful agriscience fair projects for categories like Environmental Services, Natural Resources Systems and more. He has received gold ratings for his projects in 2nd, 4th and 6th place at the National FFA Convention. Gotham's 2021 project studied the best erosion protection for lakeshores at his local Blue Diamond Lake.

Gotham said he someday hopes to become an engineer through his knowledge of agriscience and agricultural production. Gotham's parents are Zech and Janel Gotham and his advisor is Mrs. Brenda Scheil.

Finalists for Star in Agriscience included Madison Russell (Shullsburg, 2nd) and Megan Culpitt (Cashton, 3rd).

Kaelyn Sumner of Pulaski FFA was chosen as the Star in Agribusiness during the fifth general session of the 92nd Wisconsin FFA Convention. She is joined by runner-up Madison Russell of Shullsburg FFA.

Wisconsin Star in Agribusiness

Kaelyn Sumner, of Pulaski FFA, was named the Star in Agribusiness for this year. Sumner owns and operates K's BeeS, where she harvests and sells honey from her own bee hives. She said she was first inspired to pursue a passion for honeybees after visiting another honeybee operation. Sumner cares for 14 colonies of bees and sells the excess honey to her family and friends and at local farmers markets. She's also experimented with different advertising techniques to reach more consumers.

Sumner will attend Kansas State University this year to study agriculture education, food science and entomology. She said she hopes to become an agriculture teacher with a unique and diverse background. Sumner's parents are Robert and Traci Sumner and her advisors are Mr. Kaleb Santy, Mr. Cedric Pettis and Mr. Terry Erdmann.

The other finalist for Star in Agribusiness was Madison Russell, Shullsburg, placing 2nd.