Stone Hayden of the Chapman FFA Chapter in Kansas owns a lawn mowing and maintenance business. At the age of 12, his neighbor farmer asked him if he knew how to cut grass and for the next two summers, he gained experience by mowing those lawns. Since that time, Hayden has also become a cemetery groundskeeper, caring for the grass, removing old flowers and trimming around headstones. Hayden has also taken on commercial contracts with the local bank and YMCA. He is supported by FFA advisors Trenton Horn and Walter Pitts. This award is sponsored by John Deere.
Kaitlynn Buys-McFarland of the Madison FFA Chapter in Indiana has always had a fascination with the bright, flashy colors of the fish that her family kept. This inspired her interest in aquaculture. When she became old enough, she took over the care and upkeep of the family fish tanks and started raising and selling young fish to 4-H members for their aquatic science projects. Eventually, Buys-McFarland entered into a partnership with a local fish store that allowed her the opportunity to take fish, breed them, and raise the resulting fry to a marketable size. Buys-McFarland could then sell them back to the fish store. She is supported by parents Steve and Amanda McFarland and FFA advisor Amanda Briggs. This award is sponsored by the National FFA Foundation.
Garrett Eugene Leeds of the Fairbanks FFA Chapter in Ohio works for his uncle’s farm business that develops outdoor recreational activities as an income-producing enterprise, as well as a teaching facility for local school groups. The farm offers a variety of services including pumpkin picking, hayrides, slides, pedal carts and a zip line. Leeds works on providing a positive customer experience and has improved the farm’s marketing abilities and social media presence. He is supported by parents Ron and Cheryl Leeds and FFA advisor Robert Riddle. This award is sponsored by Yamaha Motor Corporation USA.
Having grown up riding tractors with his father on the family farm, Tysen Rosenau of the Carrington FFA Chapter in North Dakota did not hesitate to start his SAE by planting 160 acres of hard red spring wheat. The following year, he increased production to 220 acres and rotated to corn production. Rosenau has gained knowledge of seeding, fertilizing, pest control, harvesting and marketing. He plans to increase his operation to 900 tillable acres this year and looks forward to diversifying crop operation. Rosenau is supported by parents Daniel and Sue Rosenau and FFA advisor Missy Hansen. This award is sponsored by CF Industries, Inc. and Valent USA Corporation.
Carina L. Duran of the Wasco FFA Chapter in California doesn’t see her work at a local grapevine nursery as just a job—she sees it as the beginning of her career. The nursery grafts and grows grapevines for both table and wine grapes. When she began working there, her tasks were labor intensive. Now she does less prep work and more of the complex tasks—thus having greatly increased her familiarity with the production of grapevines. She is excited to continue the excellence of California growers and vintners after obtaining a degree in viticulture and enology. She is supported by her mother Maria Luna and FFA advisors Denise Morales, David Abernathy, Christopher McCraw and Amber Sawyer. This award is sponsored by the DuPont Company.
Recalling the rides with his father on a car seat in the tractor, Clayton Mack of the Drummond FFA Chapter in Oklahoma is passionate about family farming. Today he personally farms 320 rotated acres of wheat, canola, soybeans or corn. Clayton also custom plants 300 acres of canola for local farmers. Before marketing his commodities, Mack always evaluates stand establishment and studies the previous year’s production to better understand market conditions. He is currently pursuing an animal science degree at Oklahoma State University and looks forward to being the fifth-generation farmer on his family’s farm. He is supported parents Curtis and Marcie Mack and FFA advisor Keith Dillingham. This award is sponsored by Bunge North America and Miracle Whip & Planters.
Ross Christopher Andre of the Wauseon FFA Chapter in Ohio manages an OEPA Class II compost facility at Andre Farms Organic Nutrient Recovery. Here, he takes a product that was once considered waste and turns it into a premium organic nutrient. Ross’s facility can receive up to 100 tons of waste per day. Additionally, the facility provides custom manure application services for local dairy, beef and hog producers. After college, Andre hopes to return to the operation and become a farmer and organic nutrient manager. He is supported by parents Nathan and Patricia Andre and FFA advisors Katie Black and Brian Pike. This award is sponsored by The Mosaic Company.
Although her passion is hog farming, Andrea Thomas of the Colusa FFA Chapter in California really wanted the opportunity to drive her father’s Freightliner hay retriever truck. As a sixth-generation cattleman, her SAE now spans a commercial cow/calf operation, a breeding and market swine operation, and wheat, grass, oat, and alfalfa hay production. Thomas began her swine breeding program in 2007 and started selling pigs to other youth before branching outside the community to seek buyers. After pursuing a degree in agricultural education, Thomas hopes to work as an agricultural teacher and farm with her father. She is supported by parents Darrin and Heather Thomas, who is also her FFA advisor, along with Tim Crabtree. This award is sponsored by the National FFA Foundation.
Cole Hudson of the Ponder FFA Chapter in Texas is a part-time farm and ranch employee on his family’s cattle operation. He has an active role in the ranch’s daily operations including feeding cattle, building and repairing fences, transporting equipment and completing routine animal health checks. After obtaining a degree in animal science, Hudson hopes to attend veterinary school and operate his own clinic. He is supported by parents Heath and Nancy Hudson and FFA advisor Brent Lankford and Bart Stover. This award is sponsored by Midwest PMS and Red Brand.
Taylor Shayne Swinson of the Sulphur Springs FFA Chapter in Texas spends each summer at her grandparent’s ranch helping castrate sheep and sell wethers for show. For her SAE, Taylor used research and experimentation to determine what changes to nutrition and selection could be made so her animals could outperform other show ring animals. Swinson tested the effectiveness of feed supplements and treatments to reduce copper toxicity, among other things. She is supported by parents Guy and Amber Norris and FFA advisors Amber Norris, Dan Froneberger and Dannie Johnson. This award is sponsored by the National FFA Foundation.