By Matt Reese and Kolt Buchenroth
Heading into the 2019 National FFA Convention, the organization announced a record-high student membership of 700,170 and, in the next year, Kolesen McCoy will be representing each of those members as only the third National FFA President from Ohio.
“It has been a mix of emotions and a roller coaster of a ride for sure. It is a very humbling experience. As soon as a heard my name called, I was shocked and overwhelmed with the excitement I had to go on this journey for the next 365 days with five amazing people at my side to be able to serve the 700,000 members across the country,” said McCoy from the Global Impact Stem Academy in Clark County. “And I can say that when I look at the five people around me there is a consistent message. They are not here for themselves, if that makes sense. That is very clear. They are very grounded in their faith and they are incredibly motivated to serve those around them.”
The other National FFA presidents from Ohio were Bobby Jones in in 1933-1934 and Mark Sanborn in 1978-1979. McCoy is looking forward to building upon that heritage.
“The role of a national officer varies from year-to-year and person-to-person. What makes this organization this organization is the people,” McCoy said. “I hope to be able to walk out of this year content with the impact I’ve had and that my five teammates can say that too.”
McCoy did not grow up on a farm, but has grown to love the agricultural industry through his involvement in FFA locally, then as the Ohio FFA president and now at the national level.
“I didn’t grow up in production agriculture, but I can genuinely say the reasons I pursued this industry are the people who believed in it in the beginning and they saw the potential in me. I have seen how much agriculture is involved with everything we do. Thanks to the people who are involved in this industry. It is very easy to fall in love with the people of agriculture. I want to thank all of them and I look forward to being an authentic advocate for all of them,” McCoy said. “I believe in agriculture and agricultural education students in all parts of the world who believe in what we do. I hope to be able to leave an impact on those students, be a voice for our students on the National Board and Foundation Board of Trustees and ultimately thank the people who help make all this happen — our sponsors and donors. I am who I am today because of the people who encouraged me on that journey. The people around me have invested so much in me and I look forward to investing that into the people around me as I go and serve during this year. It is going to be a great year.”
Ohio’s rich heritage of excellence at the national level of the FFA continued well beyond the national officer team with extensive Ohio representation at the 2019 Convention. Ohio had an incredibly impressive 27 proficiency finalists and six national proficiency winners.
Andy Holscher of the Upper Valley Career Center FFA Chapter won in the area of Agricultural Mechanics Repair and Maintenance — Placement. Holscher works at his family’s business, servicing and repairing lawnmowers and yard equipment. He started helping around the shop by doing simple jobs, like testing equipment for quality. Now he works on a large John Deere riding lawnmower, using a small leaf blower, assisting customers or anything in between. Holscher is supported by his parents, Teresa and Marvin, and his FFA advisors, Michelle Brunson, Daniel Schmiesing, Deborah Stanfield, James Metz, Michaella Quinter and John Kreitze.
Rachel Sherman of the Big Walnut-DACC FFA Chapter won in the area of Dairy Production — Entrepreneurship. Sherman began her herd with a gift of one heifer from her parents. That one heifer grew to nine lactating cows and four heifers. She has grown her herd to be representative of all six main breeds of dairy cattle and has focused on strengthening her enterprise through the use of good management practices and continued use of genetic selection. Sherman is supported by her parents, Rose and Ken, and her FFA advisor, Jeffrey Stimmell.
Joanna Frankenberg of the New Bremen FFA Chapter won in the area of Dairy Production — Placement. Frankenberg works on her family’s dairy farm, assisting in the management of a 120-Holstein cow herd and an additional 120 heifers. They also farm 480 acres of land, cultivating corn, grass hay, soybeans and wheat — all of which goes directly into feeding and caring for the herd. Frankenberg started helping on the farm at the age of five. She’s learned much about emerging technology related to the farm, including robotic management, no-till and more. She is supported by her parents, Kathryn and Steven, and her FFA advisor, Maria Homan.
Jacob Wuebker of the Versailles FFA Chapter won in the area of Agricultural Production — Entrepreneurship/Placement. Wuebker is the fourth generation to work on his family farm. The operation produces 1,000 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa hay in addition to raising 2,000 sows from farrow to wean and 200 dairy steers on a feedlot. His tasks vary, ranging from feeding and breeding sows to servicing equipment and spreading and applying manure. Wuebker is supported by his parents, Dena and Jeff, and his FFA advisors, Dena Wuebker and Taylor Bergman.
Justin Scott of the Indian Valley FFA Chapter won in the area of Diversified Crop Production — Placement. Scott works on his cousin’s 1,200-acre farm. The operation is a 50-50 rotation between yellow dent corn and soybeans. His cousin has slowly empowered him to take on more responsibilities, beginning with cleaning equipment and operating tillage implements and working to maintaining and repairing equipment, transporting grain and making management decisions. Scott is supported by his parents, Sommer and Tim, and his FFA advisor, David Stiles.
Austin Dotterer of the Smithville FFA Chapter won in the area of
Fruit Production — Entrepreneurship/Placement. Dotterer began his supervised agricultural experience (SAE) because he wanted to help his aunt and uncle who own a blackberry farm of about 2,400 plants. When he began, his only responsibilities were picking, cutting out old growth and lateral training. He has since learned most aspects of raising the fruit, including wedding, equipment care and primocane training. Dotterer is supported by his parents, Amy and Steve, and his FFA advisor, Stephen Heppe.
Another big Ohio winner at National FFA Convention was the Covington-UVCC FFA Chapter that was named the Model of Excellence winner. Covington-UVCC FFA members identified a need to lower stress in their student body, promote production agriculture and improve the future lives of students. Their “De-Stressalizer” program offered four events — including tai chi and a movie night —throughout the school year that allowed students to unwind. The chapter’s Harvest Day included activities about harvesting and plant germination as well as kiddie tractor races. The chapter also highlighted former members during National FFA Week to showcase post-high school opportunities.
“It is a big deal for us even to be up for this award,” said Brenna Miller, Covington UVCC FFA member. “We were so excited to win.”
Ohio had an impressive three Star finalists — American Star in Agribusiness finalist Luke Scott (Wynford), American Star in Agriscience finalist Olivia Pflaumer (Zane Trace), and American Star Farmer finalist Todd Peterson (Miami Trace) — in the four national categories, though none were selected as the national winner. In addition, the team of Elly Schipfer, Taylor Ayars, and Colin Hartley, of Mechanicsburg FFA, finished third overall in the Meats Evaluation and Technology Career Development Event and the team of Colby Hoover, Spencer Flick, Kaitlin Miller, and Madeline Flick, of Margaretta FFA finished fifth overall in the Poultry Evaluation Career Development Event.