MANHATTAN - Four members of the Washington County FFA chapter, two members of the Pike Valley FFA chapter, four members of the Mission Valley FFA chapter, three members of the Marysville FFA chapter, Buhler FFA chapter, Marion-Florence FFA chapter, Central Heights FFA chapter were recognized for having some of the best career development programs in the state at the 88th Kansas FFA State Convention, June 1-3 on the Kansas State University campus.

Washington County FFA chapter: Ryan Stewart, Ryan Nelson, Hunter Johnson and Chancelor Duey earned State FFA Proficiency Awards for outstanding accomplishments they have made in developing programs that will prepare them for careers in agriculture. Their advisor is John Kern.

Stewart received his award in Agricultural Communications, sponsored by Kansas Farmer Magazine. Nelson’s award is in Dairy Production Placement, sponsored by the Kansas Dairy Commission. Johnson received his award in Swine Production Entrepreneurship, sponsored by the Kansas Pork Association. Duey’s award is in Swine Production Placement, sponsored by the Kansas Pork Association.

The proficiency award program recognizes students for exceptional accomplishments and excellence in a Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) program. This program allows students to set goals and gain real-world experience in a chosen area of the agriculture industry.

Stewart’s SAE is with Mid Continent Farms and Stewart Family Farms, LLC. At first his duties were limited to general farm chores, but as his skills with technology and communications evolved, so did his job duties. He has taken photos which he uses to create sale catalogs, flyers and promotional ads. Stewart has also created educational crop videos. These videos were made possible with an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) he purchased for crop scouting, which led to photos and videos being used in newspapers and on TV stations. After graduation, Stewart plans to attend Kansas State University and major in agronomy with intentions of returning to his family farm. Ryan is the son of Rodney and Kannete Stewart.

Nelson works for Meier Dairy for his SAE. His duties include feeding the herd, milking cows, maintaining robotic milkers and providing general maintenance. He was first inspired to be involved in the dairy industry by watching his grandparents operate a small dairy, but now he has learned more about the operation of dairies as his duties as a feeder at Meier Dairy have evolved. Nelson has learned about dairy cow nutrition, including techniques to increase milk production. He plans to attend Kansas State University after graduation and major in agribusiness with a minor in animal science in order to be involved in dairy production. Ryan is the son of Craig and Darcy Nelson.

Johnson owns and operates Heirloom Pork, a farrow-to-finish operation. He provides pork for Heritage Foods, a company out of New York City that purchases specialty livestock and delivers it to restaurants nationwide. He raises 3-way cross breed pigs of Gloucestershire Old Spot/Duroc/Berkshire. He started his operation with 6 sows and has grown to 16 sows, 3 boars and 40 growing/finishing pigs. Johnson also sells pork directly in the community and to grocery stores in Newton and Manhattan. After graduation he plans to attend Kansas State University and pursue a degree in sports law with a goal of becoming a sports agent. Hunter is the son of Kenneth and Sally Johnson.

Duey works for Livingston Enterprises Inc., a 24,000-head sow farrowing farm. He started working for LEI in 2011 and has learned how to vaccinate, heat check, artificially inseminate, monitor health and nutrition of the sows, maintain records and general maintenance on equipment and buildings. One valuable lesson Duey has learned is controlling an adequate temperature and air movement in a swine facility while being economically feasible. Doing this can make a major impact on the health of the animals. He plans to attend North Central Technical College and become an agricultural technician. Chancelor is the son of Robert Duey.

Pike Valley FFA chapter: Dawson Carlgren and Brayden Carlgren earned State FFA Proficiency Awards for outstanding accomplishments they have made in developing programs that will prepare them for careers in agriculture. Their advisor is Katie Carlgren.

Dawson received his award in Agricultural Services, sponsored by Farm Credit Associations of Kansas. Brayden’s award is in Specialty Animal Production, sponsored by Prairie School Farms.

Dawson’s SAE consists of custom hay operations, as well as the growing and marketing of his own raised forage. He bought a John Deere square baler and started custom baling work. His first summer he baled 1,200 bales, but his second summer production increased to 5,000 bales. Because of his success, Dawson was able to purchase a new baler. His SAE has taught him to conserve money for the unexpected, or even for future business plans. He has also grown in handling customer relations and equipment maintenance. Dawson is the son of Troy and Allison Carlgren.

Brayden owns and operates Brayden’s Bees, a specialty beekeeping operation. His interest in bees was sparked three years ago after he planted a small orchard on his family farm. He quickly realized how important bees would be to his orchard’s success, so after some research he started with one hive and approximately four pounds of bees with a laying queen. One year later, Brayden has eight hives and thousands of bees producing honey in two different locations. During his project Brayden has learned about bee handling, product management and hive construction. His biggest challenge has been placement of multiple hives. Brayden is the son of Ryan and Lori Carlgren.

Mission Valley FFA chapter: Tyler Phillips, Clayton VanMeter, Wyatt Anderson and Tanner Allen earned State FFA Proficiency Awards for outstanding accomplishments they have made in developing programs that will prepare them for careers in agriculture. Their advisors are Kelly Hoelting and John Bergin.

Phillips received his award in Diversified Crop Production Entrepreneurship sponsored by the Kansas Corn Commission. VanMeter’s award is in Environmental Science and Natural Resources Management, sponsored by Midwest Ford Dealers. Anderson received his award in Poultry Production, sponsored by Cargill Meat Solutions. Allen’s award is in Wildlife Production and Management, sponsored by the Kansas Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Phillips rents approximately 300 acres of brome grass, 350 acres of prairie hay and 18 acres of row crop ground. In total he has produced 1,835 bales of brome, 1,550 bales of prairie hay and 3,960 bushels of grain. Because of his success he has been able to update his equipment, including a new rake, baler and swather. Phillips’ SAE has helped him discover his passion for farming. He plans to attend Fort Scott Community College after graduation, gain experience in farming in other parts of the country and eventually return home to his family farm. Tyler is the son of Thomas and Amy Phillips.

VanMeter is the head ranch hand at Crooked Post Ranch. Part of his job focus is to get rid of non-native plants or noxious weeds on 2,560 acres of land. While he started by just mowing lawns, his current duties include applying herbicides on weeds and maintaining fire breaks for controlled burns. He has also created a spring development that will fill stock tanks by only the water running through a spring. VanMeter plans to attend Kansas State University after graduation and major in milling science. Clayton is the son of Elvin and Toni VanMeter.

Anderson began his SAE by purchasing 125 chicks of various breeds, including Buff Orpingtons, Rhode Island Reds and Black Sex Links. After he marketed and sold his chickens on Facebook and Craigslist, he netted enough profit for a new crop, as well as a new shed. He has continued to increase profits as well as maintain the daily dare and responsibility of the animals. Anderson’s greatest challenge was finding a marketing plan that worked for him, a task that became easier with established clients. After graduation, he plans to be an entrepreneur in the agriculture industry. Wyatt is the son of Otto and Mary Hewes.

Allen maintains a two-acre food plot that he plants every spring to feed wildlife, such as bobwhite quail, turkey and whitetail deer. In addition, it provides cover for smaller game birds and rabbits. He also sets up trail cameras to monitor coyote and raccoon populations. Allen traps these animals which keeps healthy populations in the local ecosystem. He has also built a trap shooting range which helps his shooting ability. Allen currently attends Neosho County Community College and has plans to attend a four-year university after graduation. Tanner is the son of Rodney and LaDeen Allen.

Marysville FFA chapter: Hadley Schotte, James Borgerding and Grace Luebcke earned State FFA Proficiency Awards for outstanding accomplishments they have made in developing programs that will prepare them for careers in agriculture. Their advisors are Craig Lister and Annelle Meals.

Schotte received his award in Beef Production Entrepreneurship, sponsored by Triangle H. Borgerding’s award is in Forage Production, sponsored by Kansas Forage and Grassland Council, Inc. Luebcke received her award in Veterinary Science, sponsored by Kansas Veterinary Medical Association.

Schotte’s SAE is maintaining a cattle herd of 26 animals. This includes 14 cows, 2 bulls, 6 steers and 4 heifers. He began his SAE when he started retaining show Charolais heifers and breeding them. He has found the breed to be very interactive with juniors of the livestock industry while also having the genetics needed to improve the hybrid vigor of the cattle. Learning from other cattlemen and women has been important to Schotte’s success in his SAE. He plans to obtain a career in the field of animal science after graduation. Hadley is the son of Pat and Kelly Schotte.

Borgerding started out his SAE by asking his father if he could rent a 23.1 acre field for alfalfa production. Over the course of his SAE he has learned a lot from his father and grandfather, like it is important to be prepared and have common tools and parts available because nothing slows you down more than waiting on parts. He has learned to operate machinery, take note of important weather patterns and sell surplus to other local farmers. After high school he plans to attend Kansas State University to major in agronomy and return to the family farm. James is the son of James and Melissa Borgerding.

Luebcke began working at Pony Express Veterinary Clinic as a clinic aide in 2013. She started off in the small animal facilities and performed daily feeding of cats and dogs. Now she administers medications, subcutaneous or intramuscular injections, prepares rooms and equipments and restrains pets. Luebcke has also worked in the large animal facilities with loading and unloading cattle, drawing up volumes of solutions for injections and gathering supplies for surgeries. The skills she gained from the clinic have helped her better care for her own livestock and pets. Luebcke will attend Kansas State University with the intent to become a large animal veterinarian. Grace is the daughter of John and Diane Luebcke.

Buhler FFA chapter: Jacob Grinstead received a State FFA Proficiency Award in Equine Science Placement for outstanding accomplishments he has made in developing programs that will prepare him for a career in agriculture. The award is sponsored by United Mosquito & Fly Control, LLC. Grinstead was raised in a family with deep roots in the equine industry where his love and passion for horses has grown during his SAE. His role with Grinstead Horses has evolved from being a caretaker with basic knowledge to independently handling animal health supervision and training. He has also become a better rider and has grown as a leader in his association memberships, including the American Paint Horse Association. Grinstead now serves as a ring steward during the Kansas State Fair, as well as an announcer at KPHA shows.

Jacob’s parents are Jerry and Sheri Grinstead. His advisors are John Clark, Justin Seuser and Cody McReynolds.

Marion-Florence FFA chapter: Elizabeth Meyer’s speech focused on whether conventional farmers should support urban agriculture.

By winning at the state level, Meyer is eligible to compete in the National Extemporaneous Speaking CDE at the National FFA Convention in fall 2016.

Mia Pentz, Winfield FFA, placed second; Wyatt Krehbiel, Pretty Prairie FFA, placed third; and Joel Nelson, Jackson Heights FFA, placed fourth.

Central Heights FFA chapter: Cade Hibdon received a State FFA Proficiency Award in Diversified Livestock Production during the convention for outstanding accomplishments he has made in developing programs that will prepare him for a career in agriculture. This award is sponsored by McPherson County Feeders.

Hibdon has a combined entrepreneurship and placement SAE that focuses on his own commercial cow herd and ewe flock as well as working for Valleybrook Farms, a show pig and commercial hog operation. He owns 14 head of commercial crossbred cows, as well as 27 head of commercial ewes. He helps with general farm labor at Valleybrook. Hibdon has learned to keep records and make solid replacement animal decisions, and to understand different facets of the livestock industry. He plans to obtain a degree in agribusiness after graduation as well as owning his own farm and livestock operation.

Cade’s parents are Darren and Julie Hibdon. His advisors are Aaron Cubit and Nathaniel McGee.