Out of the 47 categories of National Proficiency Award areas available from the National FFA Organization, Ohio was represented by 24 national finalists. Eight Ohioans came out on top of their respective categories, an extremely difficult task. More about each of this year’s winners from the Buckeye State below:
Agricultural Communications – Entrepreneurship/Placement
From the moment Jamie Hart of the Versailles FFA Chapter in Ohio gave her first presentation in her Agricultural, Food and Natural Resources course, she was hooked on public speaking. She was motivated to find a job as a Farm News Director. When her local radio station was searching for a student farm news broadcast, she jumped at the chance. Six counties in Ohio and Indiana regularly hear news delivered from Hart. She is supported by her FFA advisor, Dena Wuebker. This award is sponsored by Bader Rutter and Associates, Inc. and Red Brand.
Agricultural Processing – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Emily Holcomb of the Firelands FFA Chapter in Wakeman, Ohio, began producing maple syrup as a family project with her father. After being exposed to maple sugaring at a young age, she began to take a more active role in the operation. From November to February, she prepares for the upcoming syrup season by splitting wood, repairing tubing systems, filling in ruts used to collect sap and inspecting syrup pans. The family has 600-700 trees to tap on 21 acres. The trees are tapped in late February or early March and more than 200 gallons are collected. Impurities are removed during the processing. Holcomb is supported by her FFA advisor Shanna Finnegan. This award is sponsored by National FFA Foundation and National FFA Organization.
Agricultural Research – Plant Systems
Abigail Hissong of the Milton-Union MVCTC FFA Chapter in Troy, Ohio, has spent three years conducting experiments to analyze multiple facets of plant systems pertaining to corn. The first experiment she ran was a study of how varying temperatures can affect the germination rate of corn. Her final study involved fungicide trials and a partnership with Harvest Land Co-Op. Using drones to scout with, Hissong worked with 96.55 acres of land. She is supported by her FFA advisor, Elizabeth Fields Constable. This award is sponsored by FMC Corporation, Agricultural Solutions.
Beef Production – Entrepreneurship
Garrett Hagler of the Miami Trace FFA Chapter in Washington Court House, Ohio, began his operation with two bred Angus heifers that he bought and bred for the next two years. As his herd grew, he switched from artificial insemination to hand breeding, introducing a bull into the herd. Today, his herd consists of 25 Black Angus cows—22 calves, one bull and four registered heifers. Hagler has enough pasture to support 60 breeding cows if he chooses to increase the size of his herd in the future. He is supported by his FFA advisors, Amanda Swigert, Bruce Bennett and Wendi Mizer Stachler. This award is sponsored by Merck Animal Health and Rabo AgriFinance.
Diversified Crop Production – Entrepreneurship
When he was a freshman, Todd Peterson of the Miami Trace FFA Chapter in Sabina, Ohio, got the opportunity to take over a quarter of his family’s wheat and straw business. The project was successful and he decided to expand his operation. In 2017, he grew 212 acres of corn, 93 acres of soybeans and 23 acres of wheat. Learning from the wisdom of his family and other retiring farmers, Peterson has used both traditional and modern farming methods to succeed in his industry. He is supported by his FFA advisors, Bruce Bennett, Wendi Mizer Stachler and Amanda Swigert. This award is sponsored by CHS Foundation.
Fiber and/or Oil Crop Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Sarah Lehner of the Buckeye Valley – DACC FFA Chapter in Delaware, Ohio, leases 20 acres of land each year to grow soybeans. In exchange for working on her family’s hay operation, she is allowed to use their equipment to plan, harvest and haul her soybeans. Through her endeavors, she has learned to independently choose the variety of soybeans to plant and operate all the necessary machinery. Lehner is supported by her FFA advisor, Alex Zimmer. This award is sponsored by Bunge North America.
Specialty Animal Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Nathan Stewart of the East Clinton FFA Chapter in Leesburg, Ohio, owns and operates his own apiary and honey business, Bee Wild Honey Farm. His interest began when his parents started giving him a teaspoon of raw honey each morning to combat his allergies. A few years later, he began attending local beekeepers’ meetings with his brother. His first year, he purchased six established hives. Stewart currently has 25 hives in three different counties, producing more than 3,000 pounds of honey. He is supported by his FFA advisor, Matt Griffith. This award is sponsored by Zoetis.
Turf Grass Management – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Carson Eyre of the Western Brown FFA Chapter in Mount Orab, Ohio, began his lawncare business by mowing his grandmother’s property every two weeks. Enjoying the money he made, he decided to turn the operation in a legitimate business, Eyre Lawn Care, providing a lawn care mowing service as well as landscape improvement jobs and winter snow removal. Since 2015, his business has grown to 20 regular customers in 2016 to 42 the following year. Eyre is supported by his FFA advisor, Ryan Rosselot. This award is sponsored by John Deere.
Below is a video highlighting several of the finalists from Ohio and their projects.