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Ashley FFA members receive National FFA grants in program's fourth year

In just the fourth year of the school's program, two Ashley, North Dakota, FFA members have received grants from National FFA for their Supervised Agricultural Experiences.

Two FFA members in official FFA dress stand behind a woman in a  blue and white striped cardigan and dark colored shirt.
Zach St. Aubin, Cheyenne Ketterling and James Schumacher stand in their school's shop, where many FFA projects are completed. Photo taken Jan. 19, 2022 in Ashley, North Dakota.
Emily Beal / Agweek

ASHLEY, N.D. — Ashley Public Schools welcomed Cheyenne Ketterling four years ago to spearhead the school's new FFA chapter and agriculture education program. Ashley FFA has come a long way since then with Ketterling at the helm. While the chapter is still in its infancy, three of Ketterling's students this year have received National FFA grants for their Supervised Agriculture Experinces — an impressive feat, especially for a new program.

Supervised Agricultural Experiences are one of the three main pillars within agriculture education, the other two being leadership through FFA and education acquired in the classroom and laboratories. Through an SAE, students are able to work in fields they are passionate about, conduct research or participate in a variety of other options.

“It’s kind of what students are doing outside of school or connected to school. It can be their jobs, things that they are already doing or looking to do,” Ketterling said. “Maybe like a job shadow or something like that where they are interested in a career.”

Along with the three students who received grants from National FFA for their SAE projects, two other students in Ashley FFA were awarded North Dakota FFA grants as well.

Zach SAE 5.jpg
Zach St. Aubin takes care of the local golf course in Ashley, North Dakota, as part of his Supervised Agricultural Experience.
Contributed photo

“It's a great thing for students to see that it's an attainable goal to get these grants. It’s not something that’s super far out,” Ketterling said.

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Zach St. Aubin is a junior at Ashley Public Schools and is currently in his first year of FFA. His SAE is in the area of turf grass management. Along with mowing local community members' lawns and taking care of their yards, he also mows at the local golf course. St. Aubin was shocked that he was receiving the grant, a welcomed surprise.

“It was unbelievable," he said. "I could hardly believe that it happened. It was my first year in FFA, so I didn’t expect anything like this to happen my first year, something of this magnitude.”

St. Aubin plans on using the funds to help repair some of his equipment, as well as replace some equipment that is no longer in viable shape.

James SAE 3.jpg
James Schumacher welds an oiler that is being built in his father's welding shop as part of his Supervised Agricultural Experience.
Contributed photo

James Schumacher is also a junior and he works with his father building and welding oilers in his welding shop.

“Oilers are basically just like a brush for cattle and oil for their backs to help get rid of flies and stuff on them,” Schumacher said.

Schumacher started working for his father in seventh grade, learning the ropes to the oiler welding and building process. He was excited to learn that he was a national SAE grant recipient and plans to use the funds to buy his own equipment, so he can stop using his fathers when welding and building the oilers.

“Last year I built my first oiler and I kind of started to take it into my own hands. I got about 12 done over the summer by myself," Schumacher said. “I was pretty surprised and also pretty excited because, you know, $1,000 will really help with making more oilers.”

Both members believe that their SAEs have taught them lifelong skills such as hard work, record keeping and budgeting.

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As for Ketterling, she is thankful for the community support behind her starting the ag education program, and looks forward to educating Ashley’s youth about the agriculture industry.

“The community was really welcoming to moving and transitioning to ag ed,” Ketterling said. “I tell the kids that agriculture these days is not plows, cows and sows … There are so many more aspects to ag.”

Emily grew up on a small grains and goat farm in southern Ohio. After graduating from The Ohio State University, she moved to Fargo, North Dakota to pursue a career in ag journalism with Agweek. She enjoys reporting on livestock and local agricultural businesses.
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