About 50 percent of Colorado FFA members plan to stay in ag | TheFencePost.com

About 50 percent of Colorado FFA members plan to stay in ag

Bill Jackson
Greeley, Colo.

Eric BellamyA member of the Fort Morgan Future Farmers of America, Maria Rojo, 15, trys

If some of the graduating seniors at the at the 81st Colorado FFA Convention offer any indication, the future of agriculture is in pretty good hands.

The convention opened a three-day run last Tuesday at Island Grove Region Park in Greeley, and some of those have plans that will keep them in ag while others have different visions of their future.

But at least half of them plan to continue their education and half will stay involved in agriculture in the future, said Mike Womochil, program director for agriculture education in the Colorado Community College system.

“We’ve never done an exact survey at graduation, but from what we’ve seen in the past, at least 50 percent of them will remain in agriculture or in an agricultural-related career,” Womochil said, noting that “agriculture is hard to define because there are so many fields where students can go that are related to ag in one way or another.”

And, he said, about 50 percent of those graduating high school seniors go on to get post-secondary degrees from four-year colleges and universities and many others get associate’s degrees from junior colleges and technical schools.

“In today’s market, post-secondary education is necessary. And there are many educational opportunities at every level of education,” Womochil added.

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That was apparent with recent high school graduates at the convention.

Max Fokken, 18, graduated from Briggsdale High School and earned a full-ride scholarship to Colorado State University from the Colorado Home and Garden Show. He plans to major in natural resource management and alternative energy.

“I’m looking at working at a wind farm or getting into some kind of conservation job when I graduate,” Fokken said, noting his parents are both teachers.

At least two other northeastern Colorado graduates are looking at teaching careers.

Sammi Lawrence, 17, grew up on a ranch north of Nunn and graduated from Highland High School in Ault. She plans to attend the University of Northern Colorado to major in language arts under the inter-disciplinary studies program with the intent of becoming a kindergarten to second-grade teacher.

“I wanted to become a veterinarian at one point, but my fourth-grade teacher inspired me to want to teach children,” she said.

Kylie Schmidt, 17, graduated from Briggsdale this spring, but recently moved to Fleming where her father’s family farms. She plans to attend Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, then move on to the University of Wyoming to get an agriculture education degree.

“I definitely plan to live on a farm, because I rodeo, so I’ve always been interested in agriculture. Agriculture is my lifetime,” she said.

Scott Redden, 19, is a graduate of Gunnison High School and just finished his freshman year at CSU where he’s majoring in animal science and agricultural business. He grew up on a cattle ranch outside Gunnison and that, he said, might be in his future.

“I’d like to go back to the ranch, but with ag business I might try something else,” he said.

Rashae Kanode, 18, grew up on a ranch northeast of Ault and graduated from Highland. She plans to go to Eastern Wyoming College to major in animal science and rodeo. She admitted she doesn’t know what her future might be.

“I don’t know. We’ll see what happens. But I want to continue to rodeo, that’s for sure,” she said. Her cousin, Adam Kanode, 18, plans to go to school in Powell, Wyo., and get a degree in agriculture management.

“Sometime, I want to have my own ranch up there (Wyoming),” he said.

Sterling High graduates Justin Bartett, 18, and Mark Lieberknecht, 18, have plans to go to NJC in their hometown.

Bartett, who grew up with horses outside Sterling, plans to go on to CSU and get a degree in wildlife biology, while Lieberknecht plans to eventually get into agriculture financing of some kind.

“My dad’s a tractor mechanic and I’ve worked with him, but I think working in farm credit is something I’d like to do,” Lieberknecht said.

Brittany Lear, 18, is a recent graduate of Montrose High School and during her final two years in FFA she took animal science classes. She intends to enroll at Colorado Mountain College in Glenwood Springs this fall to get a degree in veterinary tech.

“It’s a two or three year program and I’ll probably do the three-year because I’ll have to work. But they have a 220-acre farm with the vet tech program with large and small animals, as well as a couple of eagles,” she said. She said she’s worked at a veterinary clinic in Montrose “and I’d like to go back there,” once she gets her degree.