Stormy weather can't dim star power of 2022 Stars Over Wisconsin

Wisconsin State Farmer
Stars Over Wisconsin award winners include from left to right: Brayden Peter, Howards Grove FFA;  Luke Sprecher, Sauk Prairie FFA; Wyatt Gotham, New Auburn FFA; Cameron Pokorny, Waupun FFA.

Despite the wild, stormy weather rolling across Wisconsin Wednesday evening, the stars were out in full force during the 93rd Wisconsin FFA Convention down in Madison.

Up on stage inside the Exhibition Hall at the Alliant Energy Center were FFA members that represented the cream of the crop of the agricultural organization. The Stars Over Wisconsin honors – Stars in Agribusiness, Agriscience and Agriculture Placement and the Star Farmer – are the highest awards a student can win at the state-level during the Wisconsin FFA Convention, June 13-16, .

Wisconsin Star Farmer

Brayden Peter of the Howards Grove FFA was named Wisconsin Star Farmer.

Brayden Peter

The Star Farmer Award recognizes students in production agriculture working with entrepreneurship programs, ranging from animals to crops.

Peter raises nineteen breeding and two market show pigs on his family farm, Peter Family Show Pigs. He currently owns both sows and boars. Peter has invested in improving the genetics of his show pigs and has seen this pay off at a variety of shows, including the Wisconsin State Fair. Beyond care and management of his herd, Peter has learned about identifying when and how to give medications and managing breeding through artificial insemination.

Peter plans to become a livestock nutritionist and will major in Animal Science at UW-Platteville with a minor in agribusiness. 

Peter’s parents are Bob and Nicole Peter. His advisor is Makayla Malone

Additional Placings: Nora Ganske, Waupun, 2; Faith Beining, Marshfield, 3; Dillian Schwochert, Montello, 4; and Rachel Weyland, New London, 5.

MORE: 2022-23 Wisconsin State FFA officer team revealed at convention

MORE: FFA members to be honored with Ag Proficiency Awards

Wisconsin Star in Agricultural Placement

Luke Sprecher of the Sauk Prairie FFA is a Wisconsin Star in Agricultural Placement.

Luke Sprecher

The Star in Agricultural Placement award is given to students that are working in a variety of job opportunities in the agricultural industry.

Sprecher started to work at Kevin Enge Farms after his neighbor asked if he would be interested in assisting to milk cows. When he first started working, he only milked cows and fed calves. Since then, his knowledge surrounding the dairy industry has not only increased, but he learned how to repair the milking equipment, tractors, and other pieces of machinery around the farm. Through Sprecher’s management of the herd, he was able to improve the genetics within the herd and increase the profitability on the farm.

In the future, Sprecher plans to attend the University of Wisconsin Short Course program and hopes to continue his farming career on his own farm or working as a manager of a local farm.

"It was a tough competition and I was surprised to come out the winner. I have gotten to know all of the other guys in the competition and they had really good projects, as well. Overall, I'm just really happy how I did with my project," Sprecher said.

Sprecher’s parents are Greg and Wendy Sprecher. His advisor is Troy Talford.

Additional Placings: Brandon Jakobi, Loyal, 2; Hannah Dahl, Columbus, 3; Dillian Schwockert, Montello, 4; and Claire Duch, New London, 5.

Wisconsin Star in Agriscience

Wyatt Gotham of the New Auburn FFA is a Wisconsin Star in Agriscience.

Wyatt Gotham

The Star in Agriscience Award recognizes the students who have created and developed their own science experience, conducted research and evaluated results using scientific data and technology.

Spending time on his family's farm has sparked Gotham's interest in agriscience research. He developed a research project to determine if saltwater could be filtered using various combinations of sheep wool, which earned him fifth gold at the National Agriscience Fair. Gotham shared that this project is was what motivated him to continue his agriscience research SAE, later was searching erosion techniques and organic fertilizers.

Most recently Gotham determined that if broiler chickens were fed a better ration and 50% corn and 50% commercial boiler feed would have more tender meat than store bought chicken.

Gotham's parents are Jonah and Kristi Gotham. His FFA advisor is Brenda Scheil.

Amanda Bender of the Big Foot FFA was the runner-up.

MORE: 331 Wisconsin FFA members earn State FFA Degree

Star in Agribusiness

Cameron Pokorny of the Waupun FFA is the Wisconsin Star in Agribusiness.

Cameron Pokorny

The Star Agribusiness Award recognizes students who have taken an active role in owning and operating their own business.

As the owner and manager of Cam's Coop, Pokorny makes all decisions related to finances, marketing, inventory and sales for his business. His business grew to 200 live birds and he began to consider what he could do to use his agribusiness to help others. Cameron began donating eggs to his local food pantry and growing vegetables.

Most recently, in 2021, Pokorny donated 220 pounds of produce, 155 broilers and 2,200 dozen eggs to his local food pantry.

Pokorny's parents are Doyle and Kim Pokorny. His advisors are Tari Costello, Ryan Seichter and Chris Beaver.

Upon selection Pokorny said, "FFA not only provided me with an excellent opportunity to grow my skills and explore my interests, but my SAE also allowed me to make an extraordinary impact in my community. I'm very grateful for the opportunities I have had and I'm honored to have been named the 2022 Star in Agribusiness."

Additional Placings: Brandon Jakobi, Loyal, 2; Caden Broege, Clinton, 3; Aaron Makos, Juda, 4; and Isaac Hopke, Spooner.