Thousands of blue FFA jackets poured into the National FFA Convention & Expo in October. In the midst of education, award accomplishments, and Expo networking, four top award winners remind us the promise of future generations is strong for agriculture.
A record 4,255 FFA members will be recognized on-stage as American FFA Degree recipients. Only FFA members who have demonstrated the highest level of commitment to FFA and made significant accomplishments in their supervised agricultural experiences are eligible for the American FFA Degree.
The top American FFA Degree recipients from each state may also be nominated for an American Star Award. Here are the 2018 winners:
Austin Stanton – 2018 Star Farmer
Austin Stanton, from the Centralia FFA Chapter in Centralia, Mo., has a diversified SAE with his brother called Stanton Brothers. With more than 15,000 hens, they sell eggs to neighbors, restaurants, grocery and University of Missouri dining halls. Stanton also raises swine, grows potatoes and radishes, and has a field spraying service. He also has a placement SAE working for his family’s farm and plans to return to the farm and incorporate diverse, sustainable avenues.
Eric Koehlmoos – 2018 Star in Agriscience
A high school science fair project started Eric Koehlmoos’ idea for his ethanol producing SAE project. From the South O’Brien FFA Chapter in Paullina, Iowa, Koelmoos researched if ethanol could be made from switchgrass and prairie cordgrass. His ATF-approved ethanol facility had to be modified to match the processes used in commercial ethanol facilities. He is now a student at Kansas State University and plans to be a high school ag teacher and FFA advisor.
Colin Wegner – 2018 Star in Agricultural Placement
A fifth generation farmer, Colin Wegner, Wells, Minn., works on his family’s farm, Wegner Farms, a corn, soybean and hay production and see sales business. Each year, Wegner demonstrated additional skills on the farm, including operating equipment and business decisions. A graduate of South Dakota State University, his goal is for the family farm to average 300 bu. of corn per acre within 10 years.
Benjamin Curtin – 2018 Star in Agribusiness
Art and agriculture—Ben Curtin, of the Taylorville FFA Chapter, combines the two in his metalworking business. Curtin took old engines, building them into bar stools and other home decor items. While at Purdue University, he added two computer numerical control (CNC) machines: a plasma cutter and wood router. Projects include agricultural and home products, such as farm or ranch signs, universal mounting plates for skid steers and more.