West Boyd FFA member takes home star in agribusiness award
Photos courtesy of Sarah Jensen, Program Coordinator, Ne FFA Foundation
The Nebraska State FFA convention is a place where FFA members from across the state gather to compete in various events, receive awards, listen to motivational speakers and participate in leadership workshops. The 84th convention was held on March 28-30, at The Cornhusker Marriott, Pershing Center Auditorium and University of Nebraska-Lincoln East Campus.
“State FFA Convention is about educational and leadership development. Members attend leadership workshops, an agricultural career fair and convention sessions where not only awards are handed out, but motivational speakers share relevant messages,” said Donelle Johnson, Executive Director for the Nebraska FFA Association.
According to Johnson, the 84th State FFA Convention had 3,560 FFA members in attendance. A total of 462 State FFA Degrees were award to FFA members, which is the highest degree the state can bestow upon its members.
Hundreds of students won awards, from parliamentary procedure to creed speaking to livestock judging. “Members were recognized in 46 Proficiency Areas for their work in supervised agricultural experience programs and we named State Stars in Production, Placement, Agribusiness and Agriscience,” said Johnson.
Kristen Reiman, a senior at West Boyd in Spencer, Neb., took home the State Star of Agribusiness award. She has been working on her business, Sugar n’ Spice Candy Company, since she was a freshman. She originally entered into the business with two other girls, and eventually had enough money to become the sole owner of the company.
Reiman makes cookies and candies that she sells locally, and since she started she has sold her products to five different states. “I started out around Christmas selling cookies and candies to friends and family members. Now, it is year-round business. I sell for a variety of different activities and holidays. Now I get personal orders for birthday parties or get-togethers,” she said.
Her specialty product is her sugar cookies, which she made the recipe for and has been adjusting to make the perfect cookies. “I’ve worked really hard with that recipe. Now I have a perfectly soft and tasty cookie every time. I think I have tweaked it enough that it’s at its perfection point finally. I had to make a lot of batches of sugar cookies to get it right,” Reiman said.
This is her first year to win the award. She will apply for the same award at the national level, and will compete at the National FFA Convention in October. Her adviser is Jerome Engelhaupt.
“I was very appreciative of this award because I’ve worked so hard. It’s nice to see that recognized. If you do put in hard work, you can get rewarded,” she said.
This fall, Reiman will be headed to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to study Dietetics and Nutrition and Exercise Health Science, and will seek a minor in entrepreneurship. She will continue to run her business, although likely on a smaller scale.
She believes that no matter where she goes, her background in FFA has set her up to succeed. She said, “I think FFA has just given me so many skills, whether its hands-on in the field or kitchen. I’ve learned communication skills through competitions. FFA has given me so many opportunities to expand my knowledge about the world and ag. The skills I have learned will help me in my every day life, whether it’s in a job or in a family.”
Reiman was one of hundreds of students to receive an award at the convention. There were three other state star winners. The Star Placement winner was Brandon Trampe of the Sumner-Eddyville-Miller FFA Chapter, whose SAE included working for his family’s farm, a custom large equipment operation and other local farmers. He plans to attend Southeast Community College in Beatrice and major in Agriculture Business and Management Technology. His adviser is Boyd Bowder.
The Star Agriscience winner was Patrick Arkfeld of the Syrcuse FFA Chapter. Patrick’s SAE consisted of four years of agriscience research dealing with E Coli in baby pigs, semen research, and meat and pork quality assurance. He plans to attend Hutchinson Community College in Hutchinson, Kan., and major in Agriculture. His adviser is Tim Arkfeld.
The Star Production winner was Dakota Cunningham of the Bloodfield FFA Chapter. Dakota’s SAE includes 12 head of stock cows, 30 acres of row crop farm ground, and a custom big square baling business. He plans to attend Northeast Community College in Norfolk and major in Agribusiness. His advisor is Richard Eisenhauer.
The state convention is also where the new state officers are elected. The new officers are: Alix Mashino, President, West Boyd FFA Chapter, Johnny Ference, Secretary, Ord FFA Chapter, Maci Lienemann, Vice President, Norris FFA Chapter, Amber Burenheide, Vice President, Howells-Clarkson FFA Chapter, Brooke Jindra, Vice President, Leigh FFA Chapter, Andrew Ambriz, Vice President, West Point FFA Chapter, and Doug Larsen, Vice President, Stuart FFA Chapter.
The state convention is very important to FFA members and advisors from across the state. “The Nebraska State FFA Convention is important to Nebraska FFA members because it is when we honor the hard work and dedication of members and chapters from the past year. It is a time to recognize members’ accomplishments in their supervised agricultural experience programs, as well as their development in leadership skills events and career development events. We showcase what chapters have done in their schools and local communities,” said Johnson.
There is another special award that is given at the convention. The Gary Scharf Helping Hand Award is given to an agricultural instructor or FFA advisor who exemplifies the commitment, self-sacrifice and genuine kindness that defined Gary Scharf’s life, according to the Nebraska FFA Foundation. The honoree receives a plaque and a $500 cash award.
The award, given through the Nebraska FFA Foundation, is in memorial of native Nebraskan Gary Scharf, who was killed in an Omaha mall-shooting in 2007 at the age of 48. He worked in the agricultural chemical industry, and was an UNL graduate with a degree in Agricultural Economics.
Scharf was known for helping others, and in 2009 the award bearing his name was first presented at the Nebraska State FFA Convention. He was also a member of the Foundation Board of Directors.
This year, the award was presented to Bob Pedulla, the adviser at the Scottsbluff FFA chapter.
The FFA advisers of the year were Dennis Kenning from Fairbury, and Jack Brokerick from Seward. There were also four new FFA chapters that were chartered, and that included chapters in Alma, Anselmo-Merna, Lindsay Holy Family and Minatare.
Thirteen FFA chapters were recognized as Premier Chapters, which is sponsored by the Nebraska FFA Alumni. These chapters are recognized for their outstanding program of activities and the development of their students, chapter and community. The programs that were recognized included the following FFA chapters: Blue Hill, Central, Fairbury, Franklin, Freeman, Holdrege, Humphrey, Chase County, Norris, North Bend, Plainview, Seward, Stuart and Syracuse.
Nineteen FFA chapters also received the Governor’s Award of Excellence, which is awarded to chapters who are committed to bettering their communities and improving opportunities for members in their chapter. Chapters receive either a $1,000 or $2,500 grant, sponsored by the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority.
The following FFA chapters received this award: Blue Hill, Burwell, Centennial, Cody-Kilgore, David City, Fairbury, Franklin, Lexington, Milford, Sandy Creek, Schuyler, Scribner-Snyder, Southern Valley, Southwest, Stuart, Sumner-Eddyville-Miller, Wallace, Waverly and Wilber-Clatonia.
“State FFA Convention is about coming together to celebrate the success of Nebraska FFA,” said Johnson.