Agriculture stars shine bright at Wisconsin FFA Convention
MADISON - The stars were shining brightly in Madison on June 13 — inside the Exhibition Hall at Alliant Energy Center that is — the Stars Over Wisconsin the most prestigious award a FFA member can win
During the week the Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) programs of the State FFA Star finalists were on display at the Wisconsin FFA Convention, detailing the tremendous amount of time and effort finalists put into their projects.
On June 13, the finalists for the State Star Farmer, Star in Agribusiness, Star in Agricultural Placement and Star in Agriscience gathered on stage to learn which of them would receive the top place and cash prize.
At the end of the night, Colin Wussow, Logan Paul, Shad Goplin and Danielle Wrzewinski stood at the top of the awards podium.
Wisconsin Star Farmer
It was a busy night for Colin Wussow, a Bonduel FFA member. So busy that he had a stand-in to accept his Star Farmer trophy while he was in Green Bay receiving more accolades.
Wussow began working in the barn when he was very young, gaining responsibility as he grew older. His SAE project started with one Jersey heifer and grew to 35 registered Jersey cattle that he developed into his own business.
With funds from an SAE grant he purchased a high genomic Jersey cow to add production and component values to his herd. Now a herd that started with all Holsteins is about 65 percent Jerseys.
Working with his parents Wussow came to appreciate that profitability comes from milk production rather than showing, but credits showing with the providing the opportunity to learn responsibility, hard work and determination, as well as the chance to network.
From his early days of working in the barn expanded to include every aspect of cattle care, plus milking and cleaning. Wussow helps analyze pedigrees for producing the best quality herd and makes decision about consigning and culling.
He plans major in agricultural business at UW-River Falls, with minors in dairy science and coaching.
Wussow's advisor is David Battenberg. His parents are Nicolle and Ron Wussow.
Runner-up was Taylor Eilers, Waupaca FFA. In third was ikayla Endres, Lodi FFA, with Sarah Albers, of Sauk Prairie FFA in fourth and Emily Pintens, Barron FFA in fifth.
Wisconsin Star in Agribusiness
Randolph Cambria-Friesland FFA member Logan Paul, 17, has been welding since he was 10.
As a freshman attending a National FFA Convention, he visited a Lincoln Welding display where sis friends told him "go show them what you've got." So he welded two pieces to make a cow, which his FFA advisor bought from him for $10 had it painted and sold for $24 as a Holstein paperweight. From there his advisor asked if he could welded a dog boot scraper, then a cat plant holder for the FFA banquet silent auction. The pieces sold for nearly $70 each and he had more orders that evening.
His business, Logan's Metal Art, has expanded since then. He rents equipment from his dad's welding fabricating business, keeping meticulous records for expenses, labor and sales, which has helped his business grow.
Paul has proposed to Jung Seed Company to sell piece at their outlooks. Things look good for Logan's Metal Art as he plans to attend Moraine Park Technical College for welding before becoming a partner with his father.
Paul's advisor is Keith Gundlach. His parents are Tina and Richard Paul.
Runner-up was Anne Runde, of Janesville-Craig FFA.
Wisconsin Star in Agricultural Placement
Shad Goplin, a Whitehall FFA member, started showing pigs at the county fair when he was 8. Since then, it has grown into a family show pig operation.
His SAE consisted of daily care and management of his family's 48 sow herd at Goplin farms and a flock of 15,000 laying hens. Goplin spent many hours working in both areas, broadening his scope of animal knowledge and developing a better understanding of how both small and large animal production is performed.
Goplin assist with breeding and farrowing of hogs, performing routine management and keeping a close eye on the pigs to watch for any developing health problems. His first goal is to raise a champion boar to be put in a boar stud.
Working with the poultry side of the operation, Goplin collects eggs, sets feeders and runs the barn controls, aiming for to be a top grower in egg production. Managing biosecurity protocols and understanding computer systems are also key in ensuring the operation runs smoothly.
Winning the Star in Agricultural Placement was "pretty special" for Goplin. "There's not much more you can do," he added.
Goplin's advisor is his aunt, Melinda Goplin. His parents are Darcy and Jamie Goplin.
Runner-up was Logan Pluim, Waupun FFA. Brandon Strupp of Hartford FFA took third with Levi Alsum, of Randolph-Cambria-Friesland FFA in fourth and Hannah Nelson with Ellsworth FFA in fifth.
Wisconsin Star in Agriscience
Danielle Wrzesinski, a Big Foot FFA member, dove into agriscience research after a class project to produce ethanol sparked her interest. She tackled the question of what could be used in the process as a substitute for corn, that needed less energy, land or maintenance.
Wrzesinski discovered a candidate in switchgrass, setting out to prove her theory, but she realized she had more problems to tackle along the way. After finding a better way to break down cell walls and remove sugars, Wrzesinski was able to run the experiment again. It was enough to get her hooked on research, competing in the National Agriscience Fair.
Research has allowed Wrzesinski to increase, not only her science literacy, but her communication as well, as she worked to find ways to communicate her findings with others.
Wrzesinski hopes to one day become a biological systems engineer.
Wrzesinski's advisors are Lisa Konkel and Jeanne Case. Her parents are Sharon and Todd Wrzesinski.