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SD FFA Convention hosts more than 2,000 amidst the storm

BROOKINGS, S.D. -- Despite a record setting blizzard, the 90th South Dakota State FFA Convention hosted more than 2,000 members and guests on the campus of South Dakota State University in Brookings, S.D., on April 15-17. FFA members from across ...

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The State Star Greenhand was awarded to Hadley Stiefvater of the McCook Central FFA Chapter for her extensive Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) project. (Michelle Rook/Special to Agweek)

BROOKINGS, S.D. - Despite a record setting blizzard, the 90th South Dakota State FFA Convention hosted more than 2,000 members and guests on the campus of South Dakota State University in Brookings, S.D., on April 15-17. FFA members from across the state came to participate in various contests, including Career Development Events.

South Dakota State FFA Treasurer Aaron Linke says these events allow students to learn more about the skills required for various occupations. "CDE's helped you learn a little bit more about it and if, for example, agronomy was something that you wanted to pursue later in life," he says.

Students also had the opportunity to take in an ag career fair and various leadership workshops. And nearly 70,000 meals were packaged for the FFA Day of Service Project for Feeding South Dakota.

One of the highlights of the convention is the State Star Pageant, which recognizes students in five areas including State Star Farmer, Star in Agribusiness, Star in Ag Placement, Star in AgriScience and Star Greenhand. State Star Awards are the highest honor a student can receive for their Supervised Agricultural Experience project. FFA members fill out an application and the four finalists are interviewed by a panel of judges during the convention. The 2018 State Star Farmer was Justus Gregg of the Winner FFA Chapter. "For my project I rent 160 acres of farm ground, along with running a cattle operation. Plus, in the springtime I have a branding crew and a hauling business," says Gregg.

Callie Mueller of the Florence FFA Chapter was named State Star in AgriScience. She has a passion for agriscience and horses and has her own training business. For her project she combined the two and looked at the facial characteristics of equine. "I did a research project to see if swirls, wrinkles on the eyelids, the bulge on the forehead of the horse - if that makes a difference on their personality and trainability," says Mueller.

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She tested 100 horses and concluded it does have an influence on their disposition. Mueller is now sharing this information with other horse buyers so they can purchase a horse that best match their personality.

The State Star Greenhand was awarded to Hadley Stiefvater of the McCook Central FFA Chapter for her extensive Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) project. "I own six head of Hereford cattle and then I have poultry, which is 60 head of a variety of laying hens and show chickens, turkeys and ducks and Guineas. I also have my specialty animals," says Stiefvater. "Then my swine SAE - I had 38 piglets out of five sows. On my sheep SAE I also had 20 head of Southdown and Dorset ewes." Stiefvater also helps at the family veterinary clinic in Salem, S.D.

The State Star in Ag Placement award went to Travis Leber of the Parker FFA Chapter and the State Star in Agribusiness was awarded to Miller FFA member Landon Sivertsen.

The South Dakota FFA Association and Foundation also presented ag scholarships, State Proficiency Awards in 44 different categories, Honorary State FFA Degrees and Meritorious Service Awards. Nearly 275 FFA members received their State FFA Degree, the highest award the state association can bestow on a member. The 38 American FFA Degree recipients were also recognized.

This was freshman and Arlington FFA member Seth Thury's first convention. He says he competed in the Ag Mechanics Career Development Event. "It's a broad, wide ranging competition area from electrical to mechanics to welding," says Thury. He says he spent a lot of time after school studying to prepare for the contest and because of his exposure to this career field, it is one he may pursue after high school.

Eastern Region Vice President, Gracie Furnish was one of the keynote speakers. She gave a great reminder to students that they always have someone rooting for them and challenged students to be that person encouraging someone else. She says it's an exciting time for young people who want to get involved in agriculture because there are so many career opportunities in the industry.

Plus, FFA allows agricultural education students the chance to try out many different career fields through the various Career Development Events. "As an officer this year, that is one of my main goals - just helping students to find their place in agriculture and to know that no matter their interest, there is a career opportunity for them in agriculture," Furnish says.

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Related Topics: SOUTH DAKOTA
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