Off-Farm Income

Have you ever had the experience of speaking with a person and not being able to match what you are hearing to your preconceived notion about who they would be?  That was my exact experience speaking with today's guest, Ben Bugbee.  Fortunately for me, I interview a lot of FFA students, and that means that I have this experience frequently.  Ben is just finishing his 11th grade year of high school, and when our interview started I had an idea of what an 11th grader should sound like.  However, if you did not know that Ben was in high school and heard this interview you would think that he had been running his own business for a couple of decades and had the experience of his peers that are in their 30's!  Perhaps this is what led Ben to be named the Minnesota State Star in Agribusiness in 2022.

Ben is the owner of Water Ready Rentals in Paynesville, Minnesota, and he also works at his families resort, Bug Bee-Hive Resort, which has been in his family for 102 years.  In addition to that, Ben is a regional vice-president in the FFA and concurrently serves as a chapter officer in the Paynesville FFA Chapter.  Ben has owned his own business since he was 14 years old, and to hear him speak about the pitfalls of renting out watercraft is like listening to an expert put on a seminar about running a business such as this.

Ben is clearly a "non-traditional FFA student", and as he points out, capturing students like himself is exactly why the FFA changed its name decades ago.  With that said, Ben knows exactly how his water sports business relates to agriculture and is able to articulate that clearly.  Ben believes that with a lot of "blood, sweat and tears" that the FFA helps to teach students, from on or off the farm, the work ethic and tradition that is captured in American Agriculture!


HIGH SCHOOL: Paynesville High School; Paynesville, Minnesota

MASCOT: Bulldogs

FFA ADVISOR: Natalie Utsch


Click on the picture below to be taken to the Paynesville High School website:

Ben's FFA Advisor's Email Address: 

Paynesville High School Telephone Number: 320-243-3410


National FFA Organization

Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE's)

Support FFA 

Donate to FFA - One way that FFA students are able to start small businesses is through an FFA grant of $1,000.  In 2014, 141 FFA students received these grants.  With your donations, more students can get this head start - pay it forward.


  • Only 2% of Americans grow and raise most of the food and livestock consumed by the other 98% as well as the rest of the world.  FFA is providing the needed education, training and resources to Americans that will carry that torch forward and insure that America continues to have inexpensive, quality food.
  • Rural Communities will rely on entrepreneurship in the future for population growth and job creation.  The FFA is a major catalyst to that entrepreneurial growth.
  • Farmers, ranchers and those working in agriculture give the rest of America incredible amounts of freedom because the search for food is as simple as going to the grocery store:

“The future of American agriculture depends on the involvement and investment in America’s youth, In order to prepare for the population of tomorrow, we need to encourage America’s youth today, and show that careers in agriculture are profitable, rewarding, and vital.”.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue

More Places You Can Listen to Off-Farm Income And Matt Brechwald:


Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1397_Ben_Bugbee-COMM_14_42--052322.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT