Off-Farm Income (FFA)
Nate Crumbley is a chapter sentinel and is just finishing up his junior year of high school.  He has wanted to farm and be part of agriculture ever since he can remember first riding around on a tractor with his grandfather.  This is what first led him to try raising rabbits.  During the year of Covid lockdowns and online school, he had very little to do and lived with his grandparents on their farm.  So, he began raising rabbits as an enterprise of his own.

When school started again the following year, he moved back to his parent's home where he would attend school in person.  Taking care of the rabbits became more of a challenge considering the travel required and the level of attention required.  As a result, the enterprise failed.

Nate was not done, but he knew that he needed to try something different than rabbits.  Through a series of examples, contemplations and research Nate and his grandfather decided to have Nate try raising Dorper Sheep.  This is where Nate found his niche and his passion.  Today he is the owner of Cartwright Dorpers and is operating both a purebred and commercial sheep enterprise.

 

Direct download: Nate_Crumbley_Episode_2003_-_22624_3.17PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Jace Taylor is the Chapter Reporter for his FFA Chapter and a sophomore in high school.  He is also the owner of "Goat Tuff Solutions", a company that he purchased from his father in which he manufactures panels, gates, feeders and more for goat production.  

Jace has some big goals in the FFA.  Currently he competing at the state level in Oklahoma in the chapter reporter position.  He is striving to win a state award for his work in that position.  He is also growing his business and manufacturing more equipment for people who see his work and recognize the quality.  

Jace was preceded by his sister in the FFA, and she demonstrated to him what could be accomplished all while really enjoying yourself.  Jace is exhibiting wisdom right now.  He has goals of possibly growing his business after high school, but he doesn't want to grow it too fas

Direct download: Jace_Taylor_Episode_2001_-_22224_10.02AM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Hello everyone.  Today is our 2,000th episode!  I never thought this possible, yet here we are!  I have you to thank for this, and that is what I do in this episode.  Please join in to learn just how much you have impacted, not just my life, but the lives of my entire family.

 

Direct download: OFI_2000_Tuesday_Episode_-_22624_11.38AM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Clayton Jennings is currently serving as a 2nd Vice-President in his FFA Chapter as well as playing two sports.  He and his sister work together on their families farm and raise pigs, with a total of three enterprises devoted to selling show pigs, showing their own pigs and selling pork.  The pork enterprise, called C&C Premium Pork, belongs to Clayton alone while his sister sells show supplies as a distributor for Sullivan Supply as her own enterprise.

Clayton and his family moved about three hours from their previous home approximately a decade ago so that they could live this lifestyle.  Clayton's parents had grown up around livestock, and they found themselves living in the city of Columbia, Missouri as the kids were growing up.  However, the ability to work remotely changed the opportunities that they had, and they ended up moving about three hours away to a piece of property that was conducive to starting a pig breeding operation.  From there, Clayton and his sister got to work and have been developing these enterprises ever since.

Clayton has a strong interest outside of agriculture, and that is sports.  In addition to playing basketball and baseball in high school he is very interested in statistics, and is hoping to have a career in sports media.  You might wonder how the two things will relate.  When I asked Clayton about his vision of how his career in sports media would look, it involved three distinct ways of reporting on sports.  I found this to be very similar to the three enterprises of the pig business that he finds himself involved in now.

Direct download: Clayton_Jennings_Episode_1999_-_2124_10.35AM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Cash Lehrman is the Chapter President of the Bridgewater-Emery FFA in Emery, South Dakota.  He is also a cattle rancher on his family's first generation operation, and he has his own business clipping cattle for other ranchers in preparation for their performance sales.

Cash ranches with his family in Eastern South Dakota, and has been doing so all of his life.  By now, he is well aware of the challenges that come with raising livestock in South Dakota, especially in the Springtime, when they seem to get some late winter storms and lots of precipitation.  His long term, future plans, are to ranch cattle on his families property and continue to grow this business.

Cash's short term plans really caught my ear as we spoke.  After he graduates this year, he will be heading to Oklahoma State University to get his degree in animal science.  The natural follow up question is "why Oklahoma State" when you are from South Dakota?  I thought his answer really demonstrated just how much he loves working with cattle.

Cash's answer was all about nutrition.  He knows from the reading and research he has done due to his own curiosity that the methods of grazing and feeding cattle in the lower plains is different than that of South Dakota.  He wants to learn how and why ranchers in the Southern Plains graze on winter wheat and then can follow up with a wheat harvest of what was just a forage crop.  It is Cash's natural curiosity about raising cattle and his desire to know more that will take him to Oklahoma, and then who knows where else before he finds himself back on his families ranch.

Direct download: Cash_Lehrman_Episode_1994_-_2124_9.34AM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Kailee Adkins is her chapter's FFA President, a national finalist in agriscience and show goat producer from Chillicothe, Ohio.  She has had an interesting journey to where she is at today.

When she was about 9 years old, she and her family moved to the farm on which they currently reside.  Kailee described her father has wanting she and her young sister to grow up with the responsibility of raising and showing livestock in the manner which he did.  The animal of choice for this was goats.

For several years Kailee showed goats unenthusiastically, but it was part of her responsibility on the farm so she devoted herself to it.  Meanwhile, she had growing interests in plants and soils that were coming from the environment that she was living in.  So, when high school arrived she signed up for a class about plants and soils that interested her, and this led her into the FFA.

Kailee is the first ever FFA member in her family, and she said that it really brought her out of her shell.  She started off high school shy and quiet, and the FFA gave her the time outside of her comfort zone to overcome this.  Then, one day when was about 15, something clicked and she became passionate about showing goats.  After all of those years, something finally clicked in.  Today she is growing a herd for both quality and quantity and developing a business.  This spring, she and her family, will hold their first ever "bid board sale" at the county fairground to sell their goats to other exhibitors in the area.

Direct download: Kailee_Adkins_Episode_1992_-_2124_8.36AM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Andrew Szalach is a really amazing FFA student.  He has been very involved in the FFA since 6th grade, even before he could officially join in the 7th.  So much so that he served as his chapter's vice president during his freshman year and has served as his chapter's president the past two, subsequent years.

There is no doubt that when Andrew finds something he is passionate about that he goes "all in".  He has demonstrated this in the FFA for the past 5 years, and his supervised agricultural experience is another glaring example.

Andrew has a passion for Massey Ferguson tractors, specifically those from the 1970's.  So, in 2021 he found one in Northern Pennsylvania that was for sale, a 1974 Model 14.  He and his father drove down from New York and purchased it, and he got to work on it once they got home.  He says that today he is 80% of the way done with the restoration and hopes to have it complete for shows this summer.

In pursuit of this project Andrew applied for and received a $1,000 SAE grant.  He also sent out letters asking for donations for his project and received multiple, totally about another $1,000.  Just when I thought I knew everything about his SAE he told me that he was obtaining and selling both parts and manuals for 1970's Massey Ferguson tractors.  At restoration lots if he finds one that cannot be restored, he will pull parts off of them and sell them online.  In addition, he will locate hard to find repair manuals online and then offer them for sale online, printing and binding them only when they are requested.  He does this all for little to no profit, just to keep people interested in 1970's Massey Ferguson tractors!

Direct download: Andrew_Szalach_Episode_1989_-_13124_4.11PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Stephen Lemon is the host of the Chef Lemonhead Youtube Channel, an FFA student and the chair of his chapter's recruitment committee.  With almost 4,000 subscribers on Youtube, including me, Stephen is inspiring people to cook all sorts of creative dishes.

Stephen has had a fascination with cooking since he was about five years old, and when he first started asking if he could cook for the family.  In the beginning, nobody was too sure what the food he was making was going to taste like.  So, when he cooked he cooked just for himself and not for the rest of the family.  However, it didn't take long for things to start smelling pretty good in the kitchen and enticing the rest of the family.  Pretty soon, he was the main chef in the house.

In combination with wanting to cook, Stephen had always wanted to have his own Youtube channel.  So, during the long, boring days of Covid he decided that he would make one.  The, just a couple of years later, he joined the FFA and needed a supervised agricultural experience.  Viola!, the cooking channel fit perfectly, and it became his SAE!

Direct download: Stephen_Lemon_Episode_1987_-_13124_2.41PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Nancy Rivas is a senior at Sanger High School and is very active in her FFA program.  She did not grow up on a farm or ranch and really had no exposure to agriculture as a child.  However, when it came time to start high school in 2020 she was aware of an "easy" class called "floral design" and she signed up for it.

Nancy's start to high school was not as auspicious as other students may have experienced.  She began in 2020, so she actually started high school at home, behind a computer screen.  So, when she "attended" her floral class she was kind of tuned in, but not all the time.  Of course, floral design is a very kinesthetic type of class, but taking it online offered none of that.  Then Nancy noticed that she was being asked to recite things such as the FFA Creed, and she did not know how that related to floral.

Finally, in her sophomore year she got to attend class in person and work with floral arrangements with her own two hands.  Something clicked for her when she did that, and she found herself working right through her lunch and not even noticing.  This led her to explore other opportunities such as showing dairy cattle.  And, she also joined the goat team and purchased a goat that she was able to keep at the school farm.  This has now led her to develop her own goat herd, which she keeps at a friend's farm these days.

Nancy will be heading to college next year, and she has her sights set on becoming an agriculture teacher.  She says that she wants to have the impact on students that her ag teachers had on her.  That is a great goal!

Direct download: Nancy_Rivas_Episode_1985_-_13024_3.45PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Zach Gingras is his FFA Chapter's treasurer, a first year FFA student and the owner of a growing herd of Nigerian Dwarf goats with some outstanding genetics.  

Back in 2020, when Zach was bored to tears staying home during Covid, he was scrolling through the internet and found a video about goats.  This sparked an interest in him, and he decided to pursue it.  First things first though, he had to convince his mom to allow him to raise goats on the 1 acre that they called home.  With some stipulations she said yes, and Zach purchased his first three Nigerian Dwarf goats.

This has led to many things.  Today, Zach is searching the entire country for Nigerian Dwarves with the best genetics and confirmation.  He has a goal of raising a herd that produces a goat that will place in the top ten in the entire United States.  He just purchased a buckling all the way from Michigan in pursuit of this goal.  

During this time he was also recruited into the FFA officer team.  He had signed up for an agriculture class because of his interests, and his advisor convinced him to participate as an officer so he could go and experience the National Convention (only officers from Missisquoi attend).  He followed the advice and went.  Obviously more people than me are seeing Zach's potential in agriculture!

Direct download: Zach_Gingras_Episode_1980_-_13024_2.38PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Adam Keir is his FFA chapter's Chaplain,  a musician,  a junior in high school and he is the winner of Pennsylvania's most improved award for the 1941 Farmall tractor that he restored.

There is something really special about Adam's story.  The farm that he lives on was started by his great grandfather, whom he was never able to meet.  However, the original tractor that was purchased for the farm was still there, waiting to be restored.  At the same time, Adam had enrolled in an agricultural mechanics course at his high school, and his instructor was looking for a student with a tractor that needed to be restored.  

Adam had this interest already, and his tractor was selected for this project.  This is what led Adam to join the FFA and enter in the competition that found his tractor to be the most improved.  Adam already has another tractor that he wants to restore that is on the families farm.  This one is a Ford 5,000.  However, this time he is on his own as the high school is restoring a different piece of equipment this year.  I believe that Adam is up to the challenge!

Direct download: Adam_Keir_Episode_1978_-_12924_3.28PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Reagan Long is the Chapter President of the Shield's Valley FFA Chapter and owns his own lawn care company, and yes, his first employee was his own father.  Way back in the 7th Grade one of Reagan's neighbors asked him if he would be willing to mow their lawn for money.  Neither of them knew it at the time, but this was the launch of a great lawn care business.

Reagan took that job and things started to grow.  By the 9th grade, Reagan had a client list of 6 lawns to mow, and he was ready to start branching out and taking jobs that were beyond walking distance from his house.  So, he did what anyone would naturally do, he asked his dad for a ride.  However, in either Reagan or his father's wisdom, his dad was brought on as an employee so Reagan could learn the realities of a business decision like this.  It worked out, and things have only advanced from there.

Today Reagan has three full-time employees during the summers, his own truck and a myriad of equipment he uses in the business.  All of this has come from reinvesting profits.  He will graduate from high school this summer and his going away to college in the fall.  However, he plans to continue running the business during college and mowing lawns during the summers.

Direct download: Reagan_Long_Episode_1975_-_12924_12.16PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Mercedes Jones is her chapter's historian and her district's sentinel, and she is only in her sophomore year of high school!  She is also the recipient of a $1,000 SAE grant for a flower business that she has been launch with her family on their farm in South Dakota.

Mercedes is in a unique position with both of her parents being full-time farmers.  This is the life that she has known since she was four years old and her family moved to the multi-generational farm and both of her parents left their city jobs to devote all of their time here.  Mercedes is learning that maintaining this lifestyle with revenue that is produced exclusively from the farm is a challenge, and it takes innovation and hard work to meet that challenge.  As a result, she and her family are in the development process of adding flowers as a crop on their farm, and developing their "direct to consumer" business model.  She has already become an expert in varieties of flowers as well as planting and preservation methods, and there is no doubt why she was awarded the grant.

Direct download: Mercedes_Jones_Episode_1973_-_12524_3.50PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Katie Dauch is her FFA Chapter's President, a junior in high school, a gardener, a food preserver and a very benevolent high school student.  Starting way back in elementary school, Katie and her mom started growing a raised bed garden at their home in Upstate New York for their own food production and food security.  They used canning methods to preserve food for themselves, and between what they grew and what they purchased they put away food for the winter.

This is what led Katie to take her first agriculture class and ultimately to become involved in the FFA.  She and her mom are still growing vegetables in their raised beds and canning them.  It was the involvement in the FFA that led to Katie's SAE.  Seeing that the school was producing more vegetables in it's community garden than was being consumed, Katie decided to preserve those vegetables in the same manner that she did at home.  However, once they were preserved she donated them to food banks around her community.  There are three food banks that are happy to accept the preserved vegetables and soups that Katie and her mom make, and her community is the better for having her!

Direct download: Katie_Dauch_Episode_1971_-_12224_2.09PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Mya Ibarra is a junior in high school and the historian of her FFA Chapter.  She is also an amazing human.  Coming from a non-agricultural background, she was enticed into an FFA meeting by pizza when she was in the 7th Grade.  Since then, she has become very involved and things have taken off for her.  She also plays three sports, including basketball, and she had never shot a basketball prior to going out for the team during her sophomore year!  If that is not enough, she has aspirations of becoming a physician, and science and math are her strongest subjects!

When it came time to develop an SAE, Mya gave it some serious thought.  She looked around and thought about the teachers she had throughout her school life so far and realized how much work they put in, even at home.  Mya believes that teachers are under appreciated, so she decided to start a subscription flower service to bring smiles to their faces.

Mya began purchasing flowers from a farm about 45 minutes away and selling monthly subscription services to teachers and staff at her school at a very low cost.  She doesn't have any profit motive.  She simply wants to brighten the day of these great women and men.  So, she charges only $5/month, just enough to cover her costs and allow her to continue providing flowers to these folks!

Direct download: Mya_Ibarra_Episode_1966_-_11924_11.03AM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Maverick Scheckel is just a sophomore in high school, but he is already the proprietor of two businesses and has developed a skill set that is going to serve him well for the rest of his life.  Mentored by his father and working his father's large equipment "buy/sell" business, Maverick learned a lot about repairing equipment.  This includes both working on engines and welding.

Maverick has taken what he has learned both from the business side and the skill sets to form two impressive businesses.  First is "Scheckel Buy/Sell" which is similar to his father's buy/sell business.  Rather than focusing on large equipment, Maverick focuses on small equipment like pickups, atv's and motorcycles.  He purchases them in poor condition at bargain prices, fixes them up and then flips them.

Maverick has been welding since he was in the 6th grade, and he now can use all methods.  This has led him to start "Scheckel Welding".  He does repairs for his father's business, friends and farmers in his area.  And, he is just launching a project to start fabricating gates and selling them around Bellevue as there are none available anywhere close.

Direct download: Maverick_Scheckel_Episode_1964_-_11824_8.39AM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Lauren Schroeder is an amazing humanitarian, farmer and FFA student.  During Covid, when she was in the 8th Grade, she started volunteering in her community and made an observation.  She noticed that in the meals available to people there was no fresh produce.  The timing of this observation coincided with her beginning her FFA career and needing to develop a supervised agricultural experience.

Lauren decided to plant a garden and donate 100% of the production to those in need.  A very benevolent SAE was born.  Starting her 9th grade year, she planted 1/2 acre with a variety of vegetables, ultimately donating them to multiple different organizations around her community.  During the summer between her sophomore and junior year she increased her production to 1 acre and donated over 7,000 lbs of vegetables.  She has two summers left while she is in high school FFA and wants to increase production this year to 1.5 acres and finally 2 acres with a total of 20,000 lbs of vegetables.  It is an unbelievable story and goal, but she has proven that she can do it, and there is no doubt that she will!

Direct download: Lauren_Schroeder_Episode_1961_-_11724_7.19PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Chase Krug was already doing amazing things when I first interviewed him in 2016.  Since then he has gone on to even more amazing accomplishments.  I was able to meet him in person in Indianapolis when he won the American Star Award for Agriscience Research.  And, I am happy to profile him again today on our re-cap episode.

Direct download: Chase_Krug_Episode_1960_-_11824_10.09AM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 10:13am MST

Aidan Yaddof is a sophomore in high school, sentinel of his FFA chapter, a two time SAE grant recipient, and hunter and a pheasant producer.  Growing up in eastern Iowa on his families four acres, Aidan has always been around livestock and agriculture.  This engagement with livestock and farming led him to join the FFA in the 8th grade, and he found that he really enjoyed the organization.  This has led Aidan to become very active in his chapter with aspirations of serving at the district and state level as well.

Aidan has also been hunting all of his life, and over time he has noticed smaller numbers of pheasants in his area.  He researched this and confirmed that counts of pheasants had been steadily declining.  This knowledge, in combination with his introduction to the FFA and the need for an SAE, led him to pheasant production.  Aidan started a pheasant production business with two goals.  First, is to make revenue by selling pheasants, mostly roosters.  Second, to help grow the pheasant population in the area by releasing birds into the wild, mostly hens.  

Aidan has been doing this for two years now, and twice he has been awarded an SAE grant to help him grow and improve his business.  He has long term aspirations for both the business and what he can achieve with it in the FFA.  Aidan is currently in the process of applying for a state proficiency award, and he hopes that this will one day lead to a national proficiency award in Indianapolis.  

Direct download: Aidan_Yaddof_Episode_1959_-_11624_5.03PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Abby Kolousek is a 6th Generation Farmer on her families property in Eastern South Dakota.  When she was first getting started in the FFA a neighbor was getting out of goats and gave her family a Nigerian Dwarf Buck.  There was something about the personality of a goat that was intriguing to Abby, and she started building a herd of the same breed.

At its peak, Abby had about 20 nannies.  However, she is scaling down a little bit with the knowledge that she will be graduating high school this year and leaving for college.  So, she is cutting the herd back in preparation to transition the project to her younger sister.

Abby sells the Nigerian Dwarf kids as pets to other families in the area.  In doing so, she had to develop marketing skills in order to be able to get them all sold.  This sparked an interest in Abby that has led to her choice of major.  Abby is planning on getting a degree in marketing and looking for a career position that will allow her to work remotely.  This will enable her to return home after college and start developing a goat herd again.

If you would be interested in seeing more of what Abby has done or purchasing a goat from her, you can find more information on the Kolousek Farms Website.

Direct download: Abby_Kolousek_Episode_1957_-_121523_2.02PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Morelia Vieyra Santana is a 2023 National Proficiency Winner in the category of Equine Science.  She is also a previous guest on the Off-Farm Income Podcast, appearing when she was a sophomore in high school in 2021.

When I first interviewed Morelia, I was taken with how bold she was in her role at her families horse boarding, training and events business in Madera, California.  Not only was she working steadily in the business, but she was taking ownership of more than her assigned role and suggesting changes that she believed would improve their operation.

Knowing what I knew from our first meeting, it should have been no surprise to learn that she was a proficiency winner.  It should have also been no surprise to learn that she no longer considered her role just as a member of her family and her families business.  Today, she sees her role as representing her Mexican Heritage and that style of horsemanship as an ambassador to the greater agriculture community in the Central Valley of California.

Morelia is attending Fresno State University and studying agriculture business.  She plans on using what she learns in college to improve the business side of her families business.  At the same time, she wants to spread Mexican Horse Dancing to an even wider group of people and audience.  She sees it as her role to make this part of her heritage more pervasive and known to a much larger audience than it currently enjoys.

 

Direct download: Morelia_Santana_Episode_1952_-_121423_3.00PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

James Titus is a 4th generation farmer on his families property in Valley Home, California.  James is also the oldest son of one of my oldest and dearest friends, who I grew up with in Valley Home.

Beginning as a small village made up of German immigrants at the turn of the 20th's Century, Valley Home had two different names.  First, as a small railroad water stop it was referred to as "Clyde".  After the Germans came it was referred to as "Thalheim", German for home in the valley.  During World War I, out of respect for their American countryman, the residents changed the name to its English translation - Valley Home.

Among these first residents were the Benedix family, from whom James is descended.  I knew James' Great Grandfather, Rich, when I was just a boy.  Back then, the primary crop grown in Valley Home was rice.  Rich farmed rice and he was assisted by James' grandfather Fred, who I knew very well.

Today, James is "farming" on a much smaller scale than his grandfather and great grandfather.  However, the Benedix legacy of agriculture in Valley Home is being kept alive by James and his family with the goat herd they keep at the home site that his Great Grandfather Rich once owned, was sold out of the family and then purchased back by James' parents.  There are thousands of stories and legacies like this, all over the U.S.  James' story is just one, but it is one that is still taking place in a small town that is specially tied to the Off-Farm Income Podcast.

Direct download: James_Titus_Episode_1950_-_121423_2.05PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Today I get to profile another national star finalist.  Murdock Wynn will be up on the stage in Indianapolis just days after this interview is released.  How did he get there?  Working on his families farm on a sow to weaner operation.

The numbers of pigs they are raising there is staggering.  With their sow numbers they are raising around 65,000 pigs per year and selling them.  Those are unbelievable numbers.  Something a very casual pig farmer like myself cannot even imagine.

Making this number even more unbelievable is the amount of artificial insemenation that takes place to keep the sows bred and producing pigs.  It is really phenomenal.

If this were not enough, Murdock and his family also raise commercial cattle on their land.  Murdock has dove right in, and is also studying agricultural business at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Southern Georgia.

Direct download: OFI_1947_Replay_701_-_121423_7.33PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

The "can do" spirit of the students that I get to interview for the Off-Farm Income Podcast is truly remarkable.  In today's episode I am fortunate to interview another one of those students who just blows away my pre-conceived notions of what high school students are capable of.

Katie Nealen was just finishing up her junior year of high school when we recorded this episode.  She has a love for animals and she obviously has a talent for working with them.  Katie had already been awarded a state proficiency award from the State of Pennsylvania for animal care as a result of her work with animals.

Katie trains and sells border collies as herding dogs for working goats, sheep and cattle.  Her business is called Kat Slash Farm.  She also captures and trains raptors for hunting and raises goats and dairy cattle. She has her sights set on veterinary school once she is done with high school, and her love of working with animals makes this an obvious choice.

Direct download: OFI_1945_Replay_849_-_121423_7.50PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Our guest today is very good at keeping a secret!  At almost the moment that we finished our interview, he ended the call and proposed to his girlfriend!  And, I would not be including this in the show notes if she had not said yes.  Congratulations to the happy couple!

Well, Landon Wenger is certainly laying the foundations for the rest of his life.  At age 19 he has been named as a state winner in Ohio for agricultural sales entrepreneurship proficiency.  This stemmed from him purchasing his own Christmas Tree farm when was just sixteen years of age!  It is called "Wenger's Winter Greens" and he has been steadily planting trees every year so that he has trees to sell every year.

I have always been curious about how this business works with the slow return on investment.  In today's episode Landon will help to break all of that down for us.  He will also talk about his vegetable production business and his time in the FFA.

Direct download: OFI_1939_Replay_843_-_121423_7.45PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Today's episode is a "best of" episode.  I interviewed FFA students from all over the U.S. last Christmas about the community service projects they were doing, and I wanted to bring it back to you this year.

Direct download: OFI_1938_Replay_1576_-_121423_7.58PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Christmas is a very special time of year, and it is really where the community service portion of the FFA can shine.  On today's episode we are going to profile a chapter, Northwestern FFA from West Salem, Ohio, that shines very bright at this time of year by helping to provide much needed supplies for people all around the world.

Joining us today to represent Northwestern FFA is Kade Tegtmeier, the chapter president, and Kate Johnson, a assistant officer.  Both of these students have a passion for agriculture that cannot be contained just by the FFA, so they both continue to be involved in the 4H as well.  Led by their great FFA Advisors Kade and Kate, along with the rest of their chapter, get to provide service every Christmas while at the same time being reminded of how fortunate we all are here in the U.S.

Direct download: Northwestern_FFA_Episode_1935_-_12623_11.44AM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Lillie Cagle is a 2023 National Proficiency Winner in the category of Agricultural Education.  She is also a Tennessee State Officer and a previous guest on this show.  Lillie just appeared on Off-Farm Income in April of 2023 after becoming a state officer.  She had a phenomenal SAE and was doing a ton of good for agriculture.  In just the span of 6 months from being on the show she found herself on the big stage in Indianapolis receiving an National Proficiency Award for her efforts.  I wanted to have her back on the show to tell her congratulations and to hear all about it!

Direct download: Lilly_Cagle_Episode_1931_-_121323_2.25PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Andrew Pingenot is the Chapter President of the Vinton-Shellsburg FFA Chapter, he is a distributor of high quality animal feeders and he is just a junior in high school.  Farming and raising cattle on his families multi-generational farm in Iowa, Andrew has embraced the family tradition.  As such, when he was 15 years old, he and his father attended the Iowa Beef Expo in an effort to learn more about the products and ideas out there for their beef business.

While at the expo, Andrew picked up a brochure from a company called Best Livestock Equipment because they had a round bale feeder on display that looked to be very high quality.  Andrew had been frustrated with the quick deterioration of the round bale feeder on their farm, so he followed up with a phone call days after the expo.  One thing led to another, and the manufacturer offered Andrew the opportunity to become a distributor for them in his region of Iowa.

Two years later, Andrew has purchased 0ver 10 semi-loads of livestock feeders and has sold them all.  As we conducted the interview he was just finishing selling his 11th semi load!  This is opened Andrew's eyes to the possibilities of business ownership coupled with a farming enterprise.  He is definitely benefiting from this advanced education!

Direct download: Andrew_Pingenot_Episode_1924_-_12923_12.39PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Pepper Elmore is the Chapter Reporter for the Kremlin FFA in Kremlin, Oklahoma.  Knowing she wanted to be part of the FFA, when it came to join Pepper chose to go to school at Kremlin-Hillsdale, in spite of the fact that it is 45 minutes from her ranch, because her local school did not offer agriculture.  Pepper is well versed in fitting, showing and husbandry of cattle through her families business of raising purebred Simmental Cattle.

Pepper is clearly a goal setter and she thinks long term.  She has already identified the career that she wants to have after college of becoming a dual purpose chiropractor, working on both people and livestock.  She also knows that she wants to run track in college, and she wants that place to be Oklahoma State University.  With so many decisions already made, now it is just down to mapping out the path and following along.  I think Pepper is in perfect position to make this all happen!

 

Direct download: Pepper_Elmore_Episode_1922_-_12523_1.32PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Vanessa Trotter is a 2023 National Proficiency Winner in the category of Nursery Operations.  This all began when she was 8 years old.  Her father had just recently purchased his families farm that had been auctioned off when his grandfather passed away 20+ years earlier.  After the purchase he approached Vanessa, the eldest of four children, and told her that she would be going to college in 10 years and it was time to start thinking about how to make some money to pay for that.

This is when TNT Farms was born with a small pumpkin patch that Vanessa tended.  She later sold the pumpkins to customers in her area, and she was hooked.  Since that time Vanessa has grown this business.  Today she has purchased three greenhouses, started selling products at a local farmers market and selling directly off of her farm.

Vanessa is now in college, studying agricultural business, with the hopes of being her own boss in the future.  However, she is going to pass TNT Farms to her siblings for multiple reasons.  Each of the will have an SAE they can move right into when their time in the FFA comes.  Also, it can serve as a revenue source for them to also save for college.  What a great family legacy that Vanessa begin with a simple pumpkin patch.

Direct download: Vanessa_Trotter_Episode_1917_-_12123_12.08PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Kendra Downing is a 2023 National Proficiency Winner in the category of Ag Sales - Entrepreneurship.  Growing up as the 4th generation on her families farm she, her sister and her parents were sitting on the front porch one day contemplating what enterprise the kids could start to generate revenue.  The idea of a pumpkin patch was proposed, and it was decided to purse that endeavor.  That was the beginning of the Downing Daughters Pumpkin Patch.

Over time, Kendra and her sister have grown this enterprise to include a corn maze, which started out under an acre and is now 5 acres, all designed by hand with no technological assistance.  In addition to this, they started purchasing products from other farmers in the area to sell in a farm stand that they operate out of an old barn on their grandmother's property.

This all has evolved into a national proficiency award today, but its beginnings were Kendra's FFA Advisor looking at what she was doing and telling her that she was going enter the competition.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Kendra is now in college, studying everything she can get her hands on in the hopes of one day farming full-time with even more, direct to consumer enterprises to share with her community.

 

Direct download: Kendra_Downing_Episode_1915_-_112923_4.14PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Davis Howell is a 2023 National Proficiency Winner in the category of Swine Production - Entrepreneurship.  He has been raising and showing pigs for the bulk of his life, starting in the 4H and continuing into the FFA while staying dually enrolled in the 4H.  He is also in his senior year of high school and is serving as his chapter's president.

The farm that Davis lives on has been producing show pigs for three generations, starting with his grandfather and passing down all the way to he and his brother.  Today, Davis and his brother are taking over the business with plans to start selling pigs to other exhibitors in the future.  For the moment Davis' goals in the FFA include finishing out his senior year of high school, getting his American Degree after he starts college and pursuing a career in the animal science/ag business field.  Davis has been exposed to a lot of career fields in agriculture already through a 4H competition that he talks about in the interview, and it definitely has given him a head start.

Direct download: Davis_Howell_Episode_1910_-_112823_3.02PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Matthew Gossett is the 2023 National Proficiency Winner in the category of Fiber and Oil Crop Production.  This all began in the 9th grade when he leased his first 12 (dozen) acres from his family and started his own enterprise.  This correlated with his beginning in the FFA, and he has been growing his own farming operation ever since.

Matthew just graduated from high school last spring, and he is pursuing his CDL so that he can create his off-farm income from driving truck and hauling crops while farming on the side and continuing to grow as a producer.  At the same time he continues to learn about agronomy, soils, agribusiness and the fickleness of Mother Nature when you are depending on her or farming in spite of her.

Matthew is just beginning his pursuit of a lifetime of production agriculture and sees himself as well as his brother carrying on the family farming legacy as the 5th generation in the future.  Until then, he is building his own collection of leased ground, learning by taking his own risks and enjoying the moment of being the first ever National Proficiency winner from his chapter.

Direct download: Matthew_Gossett_Episode_1903_-_111723_2.08PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Clancey Krahn is a 2023 National Proficiency Winner in the category of Dairy Production Entrepreneurship, but there is a lot more going on with this story.  She is also an Oregon State Dairy Princess Ambassador and the National Jersey Queen!  And, she is the daughter of two incredible parents!

Clancey's story goes way back to when her older sister had been in the 4H for a couple of years and Clancey was just getting ready to start.  Their parents, both with dairy backgrounds, decided that they wanted their daughters to grow up like they had.  Having no farm, they moved to the small town of Scio, Oregon and purchased 5 acres.  Soon, Clancey and her sister were directing the procurement of more and more cattle, and getting ever deeper into dairy cattle showing and the industry as a whole.

A few years later Clancey's parents sat them down and said that if they were going to keep buying cattle for their small farm there would have be some profit motive.  Royal Riverside Dairy was born.  Today, the four of them milk 25 head of cattle, bottle their own milk and make their own flavored milks to sell to over 50 retail establishments as well as in their own farm stand.  Their 4H project exploded into a big time, niched business in their local community and it set the family on a pathway into direct marketing and value adding the milk they produce at their home.

What a fantastic story!

Direct download: Clancey_Krahn_Episode_1901_-_111423_3.26PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Nash McKenzie is a 2023 National Proficiency Winner in the category of Diversified Horticulture.  This all started with shooting sporting clays if you can believe that.  Nash did not grow up farming or with an agricultural background, but he did grow up participating in shooting clay competitions through the 4H.  As he got to high school he discovered that he could continue this through the FFA, and he joined.

While Nash was able to continue shooting clays, he had other responsibilities in the FFA, including developing an SAE.  During his 9th Grade year he had started to mow a few lawns in an effort towards satisfying this requirement.  And when Covid shut everything else down the following year, he had the time and the inclination to really dive in to the business. That is when "Home Exterior Services" was born and it took off.

Today, Nash is just getting ready to wrap up his Associate's Degree in business.  He has expanded her services in the business from just lawns to all forms of landscaping, pressure washing and for the second year - Christmas Light hanging.

Direct download: Nash_McKenzie_Episode_1896_-_111323_2.13PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Emilee Munchrath is a 2023 National Proficiency Winner in the category of Diversified Livestock.  She started her own herd of cattle and her own flock of sheep about 7 years ago with an agricultural youth loan, and she has been growing both ever since.  This has not been by accident!  Emilee had her sights set on star and proficiency awards very early, and with the guidance of her mom (also her FFA advisor) she knew that growth would be a feather in her cap pursuing her awards.  So, she set out to demonstrate growth, and she certainly has!

Emilee will be graduating from Graford High School this spring, and then it is on to Texas Tech State University.  It was interesting to hear her story of selecting Texas Tech.  She actually had her eyes fixed upon Oklahoma State University.  However, she still did a visit at Texas Tech, and she just felt like it was right.  She did not ignore the inner voice telling her that was where she belonged, and now she is heading that way in August.

Direct download: Emilee_Munchcraft_Episode_1894_-_11923_2.30PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Hattie Brechwald is the Boise Valley District President as well as the Kuna FFA Chapter President, and she happens to live in the same house as me!  Yes, she is my daughter, and she has been accomplishing a ton in the FFA.  We both just got back from the National FFA Convention, and I invited her into the studio today to give us all a member's perspective on the national convention as well as some other FFA topics.

We will be covering:

  • Non-Traditional SAE's
  • SAE Grants
  • Taking the long way to Indianapolis
  • Skills learned through parliamentary procedure
Direct download: Hattie_Brechwald_Episode_1889_-_11723_4.45PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Hattie and my recent trip to Indianapolis for the National FFA Convention dominates today's show, but there is still a bit of a farm update in here for you.  We will be covering:

  • Congratulations to the American Star Winners
  • Finishing the World Series in a hotel restaurant
  • Ag Colleges at the convention
  • Meeting Laken Troup
  • A great hike in the Owyhee Mountains
  • Low goat prices and a bad year

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

 

 

Direct download: OFI_1888_Tuesday_Episode_-_11723_8.34AM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 8:45am MST

Laken Troup is an National Proficiency Finalist in the category of Agricultural Communications. She is also a former Florida State Officer and a second year delegate to the National FFA Convention.  With all of her accomplishments you might think she was born on third base, but that could not be further from the truth.

Since Laken was in 1st Grade she has seen something, known instantly that she wanted to do a thing and found herself achieving her goals.  Of course, she didn't do this all by herself.  Her parents and FFA advisors, even a judge at a pig show, have been pivotal in her development.  In today's episode she will talk all about this story, her journey and her future goals.  Prepare to be inspired!

 

Direct download: Laken_Troup_Episode_1887_-_102623_4.07PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Molly Clark is a National Proficiency Finalist in the category of Ag Communications.  At the age of 16, encouraged by her mom and her aunt, she took a job at a local radio station reading commodity bids, overnight weather, a farm story and obituaries.  At the outset she was very nervous, and she says that you could tell by her voice that she did not want to be there.

That was over two years ago however, and over time she got used to being on the radio.  This has led her to multiple accolades including being a national proficiency finalist this year.  She is no longer at the radio station since she has moved to Kentucky to begin her college career at Morehead State University.  She is studying Ag Business with a minor in Agronomy, and has her sights set on working in the crop insurance industry at the moment.

Direct download: Molly_Clark_Episode_1884_-_102423_2.48PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

On tomorrow's Ag Business Episode I am featuring an FFA student up for a National Proficiency Award in Ag Communications.  She has accomplished this by being an ag broadcaster at a radio station in Ohio.  Well, it just so happens that she was trained and mentored by last year's National Proficiency Winner in Ag Communications, Laura Wuebker, who was a guest on this show almost exactly one year ago.  I thought playing Laura's interview again today would be the perfect tie-in with tomorrow's National Proficiency Finalist interview.

 

Direct download: OFI_1883_Recap_of_1529_-_102523_3.21PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Aubrey Mahon is a National Proficiency Finalist in the category of Agricultural Mechanics Design and Fabrication.  She is also a college student at Northwestern Oklahoma State University studying Agricultural Business.

Aubrey has been showing pigs for several years, and during this time an innovation in the show pig industry has been to tan pigs that already have black, blue or brown pigment in their skin.  It is believed that this enhances their appearance and ultimately helps them to get picked in the show ring.

This new trend in the show arena gave Aubrey, who her mom calls a natural entrepreneur, an idea for a product.  She started producing and selling tanning lights for pigs.  A business called Champion Tanning Lights was born, and she has been running with it ever since.  Aubrey is currently running her business from college and returning home on the weekends to put together product.  As soon as she finishes with college she will be right back to building her business and turning this into her full-time career.

Direct download: Aubrey_Mahon_Episode_1882_-_102323_2.38PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Kynlee Bright is a 2023 National Proficiency Finalist in the category of Ag Communications, and she has a very interesting FFA origin story.  During her sophomore year of high school, she left her high school volleyball team, and the result was an open period that needed to be filled.  The only available class for her was an agriculture class.  Kynlee knew nothing about agriculture, had no aspirations in agriculture but she also had.....no choice.

Despite Kynlee's lack of background and unhappiness with her plight, her agriculture teacher saw something in her and encouraged her to participate in an LDE.  This competition sparked something in Kynlee, and she has been a motivated and energetic FFA student ever since.  She is currently a senior in high school, serving as the chapter reporter and has been selected as one of four national finalists in her category.

On today's show Kynlee will tell us all about his very non-traditional pathway, what in the world a "Shelbizlee Sustainability Blog" is and how becoming an FFA member is influencing her future.

Direct download: Kynlee_Bright_Episode_-_101723_4.13PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Abigaile Wolfe is a current Senior at the Indiana Agriculture & Technology School. She is also the 2x current FFA President for the Indiana Ag & Tech chapter, as well as serving for the 2nd year as her local 4-H club President. She won the district and state level proficiencies as a Junior last year in Agricultural Services. Her entrepreneurship SAE is called The Barn Babysitter, and she started it when she was 12 years old. She has an LLC, a strong social media presence, and is working on trademarking her business name. She has increased her client base to over 40 clients and books out nearly a year in advance for her services.

 

Direct download: Abigail_Wolfe_Episode_1877_-_102323_2.25PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

George Frees is an American Star Finalist in the category of Agriscience Research.  He is currently a junior at the University Of Missouri, and he has a long educational road ahead of him.

George has had a passion for plants and for research since he was 5 years old when he asked his parents for an "elephant ear" plant for his birthday and began measuring its growth rates.  Over the past 16 years he has continued to develop this passion and to add to it.  He has traveled internationally due to these interests multiple times, which ultimately led him to his SAE studying growth rates of sugar cane and the practical applications for biofuel.

George has his sights set on receiving both a Phd and MD allowing him to go to places like the Amazon or jungles of Vietnam and see how plants are being used medicinally, both as cures and treatments for different ailments.  George has a wonderful mind for research, and he talks all about it in today's episode.

Direct download: George_Frees_Episode_1875_-_101923_12.30PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Jaxson Collier is an American Star Finalist in the category of Agricultural Placement.  He has been working on his families dairy farm in Snyder, Texas since he was 11 or 12 years old, and he is the third generation to do so.

Jax is one for setting specific and long term goals.  When he was a freshman in high school he set his sights on being a 1st Vice-President at the area level in Texas.  Three years later, he accomplished that.  He also knew that he wanted to keep pushing with his supervised agricultural experience, and today he finds himself poised to be named an American Star winner.

Jax will be graduating college in May, but he plans to stay and get his masters in business administration.  Then, he has his eyes set on becoming a land broker and selling ranches and dairies.  Something tells me that it is just a matter of time.

Direct download: Jaxson_Collier_Episode_1873_-_101823_3.41PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Olivia Pflaumer is an Agriscience teacher, former American Star Finalist, former FFA member and three time guest of the Off-Farm Income Podcast.  On today's show she returns to give us an update on her career.  Olivia first appeared on the show in 2016 when she was a junior in high school.  Three years later she was back as an American Star Finalist in the category of Agriscience Research.  Today, Olivia has completed college and student teaching, and she is an Agriscience instructor at the Global Impact Stem Academy in Springfield, Ohio.  Today, we get to catch up on all she has done and is doing.

Direct download: Olivia_Pflaumer_Episode_1870_-_101723_3.57PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

On tomorrow's Ag Business Episode we are catching up with Olivia Pflaumer who is now an agriscience teacher in a STEM Program in Ohio.  This will be Olivia's third appearance on the show as she has been a high achiever for years now.  Olivia's first appearance was back in 2016, and as a nice tie in for tomorrow I decided to replay that interview today.  This will make for a great before and after picture of Olivia.

Direct download: OFI_1869_Replay_Of_154_-_101823_4.05PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Joseph Pulver is an American Star Finalist in the category of Agribusiness.  He and his brother are third generation working their families concrete business in the farming community of Randolph, Wisconsin.  As such, Joseph has been doing one aspect or another of the concrete business since he was 11 years old.

By the time Joseph has a couple of years invested in the FFA, his advisor approached him and made a life changing suggestion.  He suggested that Joseph form an LLC, and start his own business on the side of working for his father in the concrete business.  Joseph took the advice, and JP Slabs LLC was born.  At this point Joseph started working on the weekend in his own business.  However, he needed somebody to take a chance on him since he was only 16.  One farmer did and hired him to poor a pad for a grain bin to rest on.  That led to word of mouth and a growing business.

Today, Joseph is 22 years old, and he is working full time for his father and still growing his own business on the weekends.  He realized that while he knew concrete, he needed to learn more about business.  So, today he is a graduate of Fox Valley Technical College with a degree in business.  Joseph plans on operating his business on the weekends for the foreseeable future until he raises enough funds to buy into his father's business.

 

Direct download: Joseph_Pulver_Episode_1868_-_101423_11.41AM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Lainey Hutchison is an American Star Finalist in the category of agribusiness.  Growing up on a cattle ranch in Tennessee, horses have always been a part of Lainey's life.  That bloomed over the years to where she started competing in rodeo on horseback.  Eventually, a parent approached her and asked if she would be willing to provide riding lessons to their daughter.  She said yes, and an equestrian entrepreneur was born.

Today, Lainey is competing on the college rodeo team at the University Of Tennessee, Martin.  Martin is close enough to her family ranch that she is able to continue providing riding lessons on the weekends.  In addition, she and her mother started providing farm camps to kids, agricultural and non-agricultural, when Lainey was back in high school.  She continues to do that during the summer, providing agricultural education to younger children.

Direct download: Lainey_Hutchison_Episode_1866_-_101423_11.31AM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Whitney Glazier is an American Star Finalist in the category of Agricultural Placement.  She knew she wanted to be an FFA member early in life, when her father was still teaching agriculture.  As she and her sister got older and became more involved in showing pigs, he dad ended his 20 year career as an ag teacher and started farming full time and helping Whitney and her sister get to different pig shows.

Starting in her freshman year, Whitney knew she wanted to be an American Star Finalist.  However, she didn't think that a girl from a small town like her could achieve that dream.  However, she kept pursuing it, finding success but staying humble.  Today she finds herself on the precipice of becoming an American Star and already having been honored by being a finalist.

Direct download: Whitney_Glazier_Episode_1861_-_101023_2.55_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Jasmyn Hoeger is a sophomore at the University Of Iowa and an American Star Finalist in the category of Agriscience Research.  Her passion and her research project have their roots all the way back to when Jasmyn was in the 3rd Grade and her father was almost fatally injured by their bull.  In subsequent discussions with doctors after the incident Jasmyn became aware that had the bull been horned the incident was almost certainly have been fatal.

Years later, now in the FFA, Jasmyn's teacher encouraged her to get into agriscience research through a science fair project that could also be used in the FFA.  Jasmyn participated, and a flame for research was lit.  This led to her beginning a journey that he is continuing today, into an economical and pain free method of dehorning cattle.  Jasmyn believes that cost and pain caused to cattle are the two biggest obstacles to people dehorning calves.  And, she believes that having cattle, particularly bulls, on farms that are horned causes a more unsafe working environment for farmers and ranchers.  So, her research is directed at eliminated those two obstacles and creating safer farms by having less horned cattle on those operations.

What Jasmyn has already done is really incredible, and it is really easy to see what the practical application will be.  It is amazing that she is only a sophomore in college, but obviously she will be continuing her education for some time and will be making a big difference in the world of agriculture!

 

Direct download: Jasmyn_Hoeger_Episode_1859_-_92523_4.14_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Hadley Steifvater is an American Star Finalist in the category of Agriscience Research.  She has grow up around her father's veterinary practice, raising livestock of her own and also helping to solve problems in the production agriculture world in her region of South Dakota.

Hadley was homeschooled for the entirety of her primary school career, and her pathway into the FFA and agriscience research are a bit different than normal.  Hadley was actually recruited by the FFA Advisor for McCook Central High School, Terry Reickman, as her father had been the FFA and Terry had been his advisor too.  This recruitment took place her 7th Grade year, but it was not until 8th Grade that her parents allowed it.

In the first year, another of Hadley's FFA Advisors, Tracy Chase, encouraged her to do an agriscience research project.  Hadley went on to win both state and national awards with that project in just the 8th Grade!  This set her on a course of seeking research projects, and soon she was researching the best methods of farrowing pigs and caring for newly born pigs on behalf of her father and for one of his customers.

This led to Hadley researching block chains in the beef industry and assessing whether or not the origins of a steak could be traced back to the farm the calf was born on - a topic of particular interest to me.

Hadley is now at South Dakota State University, majoring in Animal Science, and she is looking at a future career in the veterinary field as either a veterinary nurse or veterinarian.

 

Direct download: Hadley_Stiefvater_Episode_1854_-_91523_11.56_AM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Audrey Pinger is a 2023 American Star Finalist in the category of Agriscience Research.  This all began in the 9th Grade with her adamantly refusing to the join the FFA as her friends tried to get her to sign up.  Finally, after a lot of peer pressure (the good kind), she relented and became a member to join what would later become a nationally competing parliamentary procedure team.

During this time Audrey was encouraged to do an agriscience research project by her FFA Advisor.  She ended going to and winning her state with the project, and this lit a fire.  Soon, she was running four separate agriscience research projects, and obviously those projects stood out as she has become one of only four finalists in the category out of over 800,000 FFA students in the nation!

Audrey is currently studying to become an agriculture teacher at The Ohio State University, and she will also be receiving her American Degree this year.

Direct download: Audrey_Pinger_Episode_1852_-_91423_2.15_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Daniel Jossund is a 2023 American Star Farmer Finalist.  I met him for the first time in this interview, but what an impressive resume he put forward.  He has been farming corn, wheat, soybeans, barley and sugar beets with his family his entire life.  However, at the beginning of his FFA career he joined his brother in a straw bailing business, and actually purchased his own bailer.

The purchase of that bailer was just the beginning for Daniel.  Soon he was leasing ground from his grandmother and growing wheat and soybeans.  Then he leased some ground from his chapter and began growing alfalfa.  Just after graduation from high school he purchased 150 acres of his own and diversified even more.  

Daniel is currently in college at North Dakota State University studying agricultural business and minoring in banking.  When I asked him what was next for him, after college, without hesitation but with full confidence he said "full time farming".  He is already well on his way to that dream, and her is wishing him the best of luck at the National Convention!

Direct download: Daniel_Jossund_Episode_1840_-_9623_5.09_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Weston Whiteside is an American Star Finalist in the category of Agribusiness.  Weston has been working in the lawn care and landscaping business since he was 11 years old, and when he turned 16 years old he purchased the business from his father.  Since then, Weston has made moves to transform his clientele from residential to commercial and to ramp up the earnings.  He has been succeeding in that endeavor.  

Weston is currently studying agricultural business and playing baseball at The College Of The Ozarks in Missouri.  In addition, he is working in exchange for his tuition, so he has absolutely no tuition payments to make to get his degree.  He is employed at the campus feed mill and does a variety of jobs in exchange for tuition.  

When Weston graduates he plans on running his business, Whiteside Landscaping, full time and building the business even larger.  He has a lofty goal of being financially independent by the time he is 30 years old, not so he can stop working, but so he can always do work that he loves and is passionate about. 

Direct download: Weston_Whiteside_Episode_1845_-_9723_3.32_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Today we are continuing our focus on National Farm Health & Safety Week.  Joining us are two FFA members from Bowling Green High School in Bowling Green, Missouri, Abby Haas and Courtney Kraft.  They are spearheading a county wide effort to teach 4th graders about food storage safety as well as medication safety in their homes.

I love it when people do activities that accomplish two goals at once, and that is exactly what they are doing.  At the same time they are teaching safety to farm student as well as non-farm students, they are exposing everyone to agriculture and the FFA.  We know that the number of non-traditional FFA students is on the increase, and that is good thing.  This effort will help to keep that trend moving forward.

Direct download: Bowling_Green_FFA_Safety_Episode_1841_-_91323_3.27_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Rylee Shelton is a senior in high school and the president of her FFA Chapter.  She is also a beef producer and staunch advocate for agriculture, specifically the beef industry.

Rylee is currently running for both Missouri Beef Queen as well as the position of Missouri Farm Bureau Ambassador.  As such, she is doing a lot of public speaking, both to agricultural and non-agricultural audiences.  At the same time she is advocating for agriculture, she is also teaching about farm safety and handling techniques of working with cattle that minimize stress on the livestock and create the safest working environment possible for humans.

To the agricultural audiences Rylee focuses mainly on ways we can evolve into different handling techniques for betterment of our industry from both a public perception and safety standpoint.  To the general public she talks about staying safe and safe cattle handling techniques as one of the ways in which she debunks misconceptions about animal abuse in agriculture.

The wisdom of how Rylee is going about doing this is fantastic, and I share her enthusiasm!

Direct download: Rylee_Shelton_Episode_1839_-_91523_1.56_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

It is National Farm Health & Safety Week, and I am devoting this week to just that!  Joining me today are two students from the Audrain County FFA

Chapter in Laddonia, Missouri.  Brant Cope and Aaron Carter are the organizers of this years Farm Safety Day at their high school and put on by their FFA Chapter.  Brant and Aaron have both participated in this event multiple times over the years, first as elementary school students and for the past four years as FFA students teaching at the stations.

On Farm Safety Day, elementary students from around their county will come to their school and be shown multiple different stations and taught how to be safe.  This will include everything from electrical lines, to horses, to grain bins to atv's.

Direct download: Audrain_Farm_Safety_Episode_1838_-_91223_2.58_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Luke Jennings is a 2023 American Star Farmer Finalist.  He is also the state president for Ohio FFA, serving his second term as a state officer in the Buckeye State.

I first interviewed Luke in 2021 at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis.  The media center for the convention is in the media offices at Lucas Oil Field where the Indianapolis Colts play, so we sat down in a room over looking the entire domed stadium, the huge FFA stage and the football field below.

Luke went up on the big stage three times that convention, including one time as a National Proficiency Finalist.  I thought I was surely catching this young man at the heights of his FFA career.  I didn't think this because I didn't think him capable, but he had accomplished so much already it was just a natural thought.  However, in the following school year he became an Ohio State Officer, in May of 2023 he was elected for a second term - this time as state president and then in July he was selected as a finalist for American Star Farmer!

I couldn't be more proud of what this young man has done and is now doing, and it is my thrill to have him back on the show.

Direct download: Luke_Jennings_Episode_1833_-_9123_4.24_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Callie Welty is a 2023 American Star Farmer Finalist, and after speaking with her it is not hard to understand why.

Callie has had three things ingrained into her since a young age; love of the FFA, love of Brahman cattle and love for the Texas A&M Aggies.  Today, at age 19 she has become the president of the American Junior Brahmans Association, she is studying agricultural communications in College Station and the foundation of the SAE that has led her to be an American Star Finalist is her herd of Brahman cattle.

In the interview Callie talks a lot about how mentors have played an important role in her development as a student, student leader and breeder of cattle.  It is a point that should be emphasized as too many people try to go it alone when there are experienced people that are more than willing to give advice and share life experiences.  Callie is doing great things with the help of these mentors, and it shines through in her interview.

Direct download: Callie_Welty_Episode_1831_-_83123_4.18_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

On tomorrow's Ag Business Episode we are telling the story of a company that was born during the Great Depression from a need to make extra money during slow times during the winter.  The answer that the founder came up with was a value added product.  Today, that original product has inspired many other products and created jobs for hundreds of people and deliciousness for millions of people's meals.

As a great "tie in" to tomorrow's show I went looking for interviews that I had done regarding value added product.  I cannot think of a better "tie in" than this interview that I did with Logan Schlaugh back in 2020.  The creation of a value added product is literally what saved this young man's family farming enterprise.  You have all heard me talk about the pressure to not be the link in the family chain that loses the farm.  Well, this is real story about coming close but then being innovative and saving it with a value added product.

 

Direct download: OFI_1827_Replay_Of_821_-_9623_4.52_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Tanner Mickey is a 2023 finalist for the award of American Star Farmer!  He has done this through a variety of enterprises including corn, soybean and wheat farming; raising cattle and sheep; and working in his families seed sales business.

Tanner was first a guest on the show in 2019 as he was getting ready to start his senior year of high school.  We did the interview one day prior to him leaving for Scotland with his livestock judging team to compete internationally.  He was also just a few months away from becoming the Illinois State Star Farmer at that point.

I am very proud of what he has already accomplished and that he has been recognized as an American Star Farmer Finalist this year.  We will catch up on everything he has been doing over the past four years on this episode.

Direct download: Tanner_Mickey_Episode_1826_-_82523_11.57_AM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Lance Moritz is a 2023 American Star Finalist in the category of Agricultural Placement.  Lance was also previously a guest on the Off-Farm Income Podcast in 2019.  Since that time, Lance has been through a lot.  He has continued to work in and develop both aspects of his supervised agricultural experiences, and he had a kidney transplant!  The transplant took him out of the field for several months, but it gave him the opportunity to look at the behind the scenes portion of running his families farm and landscaping business.

Lance just received his degree in Agronomy from Illinois Valley Community College in May, and he is now taking on more responsibility on his families farm.  In today's episode Lance I spend some time catching up, and I spend some time congratulating him for this outstanding accomplishment.

Direct download: Lance_Moritz_Episode_1824_-_82223_4.09_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

On tomorrow's Agricultural Business Episode I will be speaking with the CEO of Harvest Hosts about how farmers can make extra money hosting people on their farms overnight.  This made me think back to the interview I did with Kuna's own, Brooklyn Lowe, formerly of the Kuna FFA Chapter.  Brooklyn and her family own and operate "The Farmstead" which is an agritourism destination about three miles from my own farm.

When I owned the gopher extermination business I did work for Brooklyn's father, Jim, at a previous location they operated at.  Later, I was able to interview Jim about their business, and then I eventually came to know Brooklyn through my and Hattie's involvement in the Kuna FFA.  The story of this family business, which Brooklyn will one day take over, is one of vision, patience, persistence and growth.  And I think it ties in perfectly with tomorrow's ag business episode.

Direct download: OFI_1820_Replay_Of_673_-_82923_3.49_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Kristin Nesbitt is in her fourth year of medical school and will be beginning her residency in about 9 months. She first appeared on the Off-Farm Income Podcast in 2015 on episode #35, when she had just become the president of her FFA Chapter at Meridian High School.  I reconnected with her on Linkedin recently and saw that she was now in medical school, and I recalled that way back when she was a senior in high school she that that human or veterinary medicine is probably what she would ultimately end up studying in the future.

Kristin made the choice to treat humans towards the end of her sophomore year, and today it is my opportunity to catch up with this amazing young woman.  We will also talk about the journey that she has been on, learn what medical school is really like and get some tips and suggestions for other students who want to pursue becoming a medical doctor.

Direct download: Kristen_Nesbitt_Episode_1819_-_6823_2.57_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Isaac Detty is just beginning his sophomore year of high school and his second year of FFA, but you wouldn't know it from the complexity and number of SAE's that he has.  When he is not collecting eggs to sell or feeding his meat birds for his meat chicken business, he is busy working with food that has already been grown but not consumed.

In addition to Isaac's entrepreneurial ventures, he has a benevolent venture taking food that would otherwise go to waste, like bananas, and turning them into something that will result in them being consumed and not thrown out.  On the top of the pyramid is making something like banana bread or dehydrating the bananas.  On the other end, the food is fed to chickens or livestock that will consume it, or it is being composted.  Either way, the food is not being wasted by sending it to the landfill.

Isaac is able to identify the multiple positive benefits that looking at food in this manner have.  For example, when they are dehydrating bananas, it give the food science class at his high school a project to work on that is right in line with what they are studying.  It is thinking like this that led Isaac to be awarded a $1,000 SAE Grant in 2022, which he will be applying for again this fall.

Direct download: Isaac_Detty_Episode_1817_-_5923_3.08_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Brynn Karnes is a sophomore at Central Columbia High School in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania and a standout member of the FFA Chapter.  She has deep roots in the Keystone State with farming on one side of the family and a multi-generational hardware store that has been serving farmers for decades on the other.

Brynn has definitely had her eyes opened to all the different opportunities for careers already, due to her involvement in the FFA.  She first explored the option of being an agriculture teacher and thought she wanted to head that direction.  However, then she took plant science and worked in the greenhouse and found something that she thought she could do for the rest of her life.  And, who knows what else she will be exposed to over time that may even lead her in a different direction.

What I noticed in the interview was that as Brynn and I spoke about her future career prospects there was excitement in her voice.  To me, that is the most important thing.  No matter what she ultimately winds up doing for a career, her participation in the FFA has got her excited about her future!

Regarding the title of today's episode - you are going to have to listen to find out what that means.  If you don't already know, it is explained in our conversation!

Direct download: Brynn_Karnes_Episode_1812_-_5523_11.44_AM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Dalten Durrant is just about ready to start his sophomore year of high school and his second year in the Kuna FFA Chapter.  Dalten has a huge family in the community of Kuna with a deep farming legacy in my hometown.  Dalten's family farm's name is "Big D Ranch" and they run one of the largest agribusinesses in the Treasure Valley of Idaho.

Dalten has been working in the family business since he was 5 years old, and his responsibilities increase each and every year.  His first job was selling sweet corn from the retail sales area of the ranch, and since then he has progressed to some fun and some, not so fun, jobs on the farm.  Dalten states that his favorite job during the summer is running the loader since the cab has air conditioning.  His least favorite is cleaning out the grain pits because there is rotten grain in the bottom and it stinks.

Dalten is part of a long legacy of not only farming but FFA membership and community service here in Kuna, and he has goals for his FFA career over the next three years.  It will be fun to watch.

Direct download: Dalten_Durrant_Episode_1810_-_5523_8.35_AM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Teah Vennes is an incoming sophomore at Shields Valley High School in Clyde Park, Montana and the newest of a Montana Ranching legacy that goes back to 1863!  Her ranch lies in a beautiful area to the east of the Bridger Mountains that I used to frequent when I was a student at Montana State University.  Teah is very involved in ranching, horses and cattle, but so much more.

In today's interview what really stood out is the relationship between the 4H and FFA.  They are not the same, and you don't need one to do the other.  However, the 4H certainly acts as a gateway into the FFA with similar activities such as livestock exhibitions.

With Teah being a 9th Grader at the time that I interviewed her, she is right in the midst of this transition.  She has been very active in the 4H, as well as the Girl Scouts, with some interesting projects that sparked ideas that she is carrying forward into the FFA.  One of those is raising rabbits and taking them to more municipal areas of Montana to give 4H, and now FFA, students ideas about how they can raise livestock even if they live in town.  The rabbits are also a great way to spark a conversation about agriculture, giving Teach the opportunity to dispel some myths about where our food comes from.

Teah has her eye on becoming a Montana State Officer in the future, and I think this is a great start.  But, as we learned in the episode, for right now she is concentrating on getting her driver's license as she was headed to driver's training as we finished this episode.

 

Direct download: Teah_Vennes_Episode_1805_-_42823_11.53_AM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Ashlin Havumaki is just getting ready to start her sophomore year of high school and her third year of FFA.  As a lover of animals, Ashlin and her family keep all sorts of livestock and fowl on her grandparents farm just a few minutes from her home.  And when she was going into the 8th Grade, a friend of her father's, who was also an FFA advisor, suggested the FFA for Ashlin.

Ashlin has definitely found her perfect place.  Her fascination with animals fits very well within the FFA, and it allows her to turn that passion into an academic pursuit with her supervised agricultural experience.  It also opens many other doors such as public speaking and career development events.

 

Direct download: Ashlin_Havumaki_Episode_1803_-_42623_2.58_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Lauren Comes is a farmer and FFA student from Southwest Iowa.  She has just completed her first, full year of FFA and is preparing to launch into even more FFA activities as sophomore.  Lauren farms with her father and brothers on their multi-generational farm, primarily raising commercial cattle, but also growing some row crops.

In this interview Lauren and I spoke about the payoffs of farming.  As she talked about in the show, not every aspect of farming is pleasant or enjoyable, but they are necessary to keep the farm going.  And, eventually there is a payoff, and I don't mean money.  That payoff is different for all of us.  For Lauren it takes place in March when she gets to spend time with newborn calf and its mother in the barn.  For me, it is in mid-July at the end of a long day watching the sun go down and listening to the cattle graze.  Either way, there are those moments on the farm that make those unpleasant moments worth it.

Lauren is pouring all of her energy in the FFA and farming.  She doesn't know what she wants to study after high school yet, but she knows it will be in agriculture.  And certainly there is wisdom built into her father's choice to have the kids hand stack, heavy bails of hay in the hot, Iowa sun.  There will be a day in Lauren's future that test her, possibly even makes her wonder if pursuing her career goals are worth it, and then she will remember stacking those bales and her motivation will return.  It works the same for all of us who have ever done an unpleasant, physically taxing job.  It pushes us forward and helps us get to where we are supposed to end up.

Direct download: Lauren_Comes_Episode_1798_-_42123_1.28_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Lane Carter is going into his fourth year of the FFA, but just his sophomore year of high school in a couple of weeks.  He began his FFA journey in the 7th Grade with a vision of farming, full time after high school ever since.

Lane already has a great vision of what it is going to take.  He has already started a side business, doing custom bailing for customers in his area of Northeast Missouri.  He is trading labor on his families farm for the use of the equipment he needs to operate this business.  He also has identified other side hustles that he could pursue to create off-farm income when the time comes, such as selling seed.

Lane is not waiting around though.  He and his brother leased 50 acres and farmed it as partners last year.  This year they are leasing 80.  Lane's goal is to grow every year and to keep growing until all he has to do to survive is farm.  He will take the off-farm job if he needs to, but he is making all the right moves right now to avoid that, or at least to minimize that.

 

Direct download: Lane_Carter_Episode_1796_-_41423_12.17_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

One thing the FFA is great at is giving all students, regardless of the size or scope of their operation, an equal chance of recognition.  Today's Guest, Olivia Rossi, really demonstrates that.

Olivia has grown up on her families cattle ranch in the beautiful mountains of Colorado.  She exchanges labor for the feed and housing of her her beef SAE, which consists of two steers.  Even though Olivia lives on an expansive cow/calf operation and could put together a placement SAE with a large scope, she chooses to put together an entrepreneurship SAE consisting of just these two steers.  And, she has taken this project all the way.

Olivia won grand champion with one of her steers, and she won a state proficiency award with her project of raising and showing her two steers.  Two steers, that is all, and now she is entering her project for consideration at the national level!  Olivia never stressed over the size of her project, but she pays close attention to the quality.  And, in her application she focused on explaining how raising two steers could still give her insight into the beef industry and beef business, and she didn't allow anyone to look at the size of her operation as a limiting factor.

Direct download: Olivia_Rossi_Episode_1793_-_62923_3.25_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

On tomorrow's episode I am featuring another student from Soroco FFA in Northwest Colorado.  The stories that come out of this mountainous cattle country are so interesting.  And our guest happens to be cousins with and have the same last name as previous OFI guest, Kayla Rossi.  So, it seemed like a natural fit for today's re-cap episode to replay the interview I did with Kayla, talking all about how predators were a challenge for her SAE project in this wild area.

Direct download: OFI_1792_Replay_Of_1207_Kayla_Rossi_-_63023_4.13_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Ty Oyen has already been on the big stage at the National FFA Convention for he and his partner, Gage's, Agrisicence Research Project regarding water quality on part of Ty's farm in South Dakota.  This happened in Ty and Gage's 9th Grade year of high school!  It is amazing to see photos of those two receiving their awards in Indianapolis and to know that they have just begun their high school and FFA journeys.

However, after speaking with Ty for a few minutes you realize that being surprised that he accomplished this already is just underestimating him.  Ty is devoted to farming, and his schedule reflects that.  He is having very much a normal high school experience for an athletic person.  He plays three sports - football, basketball and track - and of course, he is in the FFA.  But all of that is book ended by farming.

Ty gets up in the morning at about 6am, and before he heads to school he bottle feeds about 30 calves.  Then he has school all day, practice for whatever sport is in season after school and he finally heads home.  But, when he gets home he changes clothes, heads out to the shop and works on whatever project his father and grandfather have given he and his brother.

When school is out for the summer, Ty is working in the family business custom bailing hay for folks or custom chopping hay and corn for other people's livestock feed needs.  Looking into the future, Ty is focused on farming.  He and his older brother are going to study to become diesel technicians, specializing in John Deere Equipment.  They use a lot of John Deere equipment on the farm already, but it becomes increasingly more complex to work on.  However, by becoming experts they will be able to solve a lot of these problems themselves, without the need to pay expensive shop rates and taken equipment back to the dealership.

Direct download: Ty_Oyen_Episode_1791_-_41223_1.42_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Addison Gronley is just getting ready to start her sophomore year of high school and second year of FFA, and there are possibly some big changes coming her way.  I interviewed Addison right after she had attended the Idaho State FFA Convention.  Even before the convention she was very fired up about showing and judging livestock with some big goals on the horizon, namely proficiency awards.

The long drive back to Northern Idaho from the State Convention in the complete opposite end of the state did not reduce Addison's passion for the FFA.  She told me that she was strongly considering becoming a home school student in the 10th Grade so that she could show sheep even more and develop her skills even further.  A classic line from a very focused FFA student, "school gets in the way of shows".

I am fortunate to be able to interview a lot of National Proficiency and American Star winners on this show, and a frequent theme is setting the goal of achieving at that level early.  Addison has definitely done this, and she is doing whatever she can to remove any obstacles that might stand in her way.

 

Direct download: Addison_Gronley_Episode_1789_-_41123_3.08_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Ava Genter is a swine producer, a Star Greenhand winner and a Star Record Keeper in her FFA Chapter.  Even at age 15 it feels like Ava has been waiting her whole life to be a member of the FFA.  Creating even more anticipation is the fact that in Pettisville, Ohio every grade is in the same building for the entire 13 years of public education, but FFA does not begin until the 9th Grade.

Ava showed her first pig, on her own, when she was 2 years old.  So, ever since Kindergarten she has been in the same building with those blue jackets and wanting to wear one.  Finally, this year, it happened for her.  And she is not waisting anytime getting used to the organization either.  She applied to go the National Convention her freshman year, and she was able to go.  She won a number of awards at her chapter's banquet in March and she has her sights set on being an officer.  

As you can tell from the title of this episode, there was a resonating point that stood out in the interview.  I hear it all the time from FFA students, and I always want to highlight this.  99% of the FFA students that I interview who are farming or raising livestock for their SAE are paying money for feed, facilities, inputs and equipment to a relative who wants, more than anything, to see them succeed.  If that is the case, why do they have them pay?  The reason is that agricultural people are wise and pragmatic, and they know that awards and record books are short term awards, but true success is learning how the real world works and getting the experiences that will lead to long term success. 

This is true in Ava's case, and I wanted to highlight it in the title of this episode.  

Direct download: Ava_Genter_Episode_1784_-_4423_1.37_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

JD Thompson is in his first year of the FFA, and he is one of the most long term and forward thinking students that I have interviewed.  Through research and exploration, JD discovered the business of raising deer for sale to high fenced hunting ranches.  Once he discovered this he ramped up his research and found a ranch in South Dakota that was raising deer for this purpose.  He reached out to the owner, asked him several questions and is soon going there for a tour.  JD is hoping to work for him for a couple of weeks this summer to get a closer look at how the operation works.

JD has a very long timeline on this project.  He will be developing his facilities over the next couple of years and saving his money in order to purchase his first deer.  He is hoping to purchase his first deer by his senior year, and if things go better than expected by the end of his junior year.  By that time, JD hopes to have visited some ranches in Texas and started networking with owners there that host hunters.

JD is showing a lot of wisdom in planning out a long timeline.  This will give him the opportunity to learn and study and get experience.  It will also prevent him from rushing in financially to a potentially volatile business and harming himself financially.

Direct download: JD_Thompson_Episode_1782_-_31723_1.32_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Emily Thimmes was a guest on the Off-Farm Income Podcast back in 2016.  Being a student at Miami East High School, under the tutilage of Marie Carity, she was encouraged to pursue an interesting entrepeneurship SAE, and she did!  Emily was making quite a name for herself growing and selling herbs when I interviewed her.

On tomorrow's Ag Business Episode, I am profiling a married couple that comes from production agriculture and has now created a niche growing and selling garlic on a small episode.  From one herb to another, I thought this was a great tie in to tomorrow's show.

 

Direct download: OFI_1778_Replay_of_173_Emily_Thimmes_-_63023_3.54_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Lacie Weber is in her first year as an official high school student but her third year in the Rutland FFA Chapter.  Rutland is a very, very small town and all students attend school in the same building together.  So, as a 9th grader Lacie has already served in two chapter officer position.  And, she is coaching younger FFA members as well as 4H members in everything that she has been exposed to between both groups.

Lacie is very interested in shooting sports and excels in shooting a bow and arrow.  During the interview I jokingly asked her if she had ever shot a bullseye and then split the arrow in two by shooting another bullseye right after it.  Her answer was "yes"!

It is early for Lacie to know what the future looks like once high school is done.  However, she and I both seem to think she will wind up serving others and teaching or coaching in some capacity.

Direct download: Lacie_Weber_Episode_1777_-_31523_5.08_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Sophia Sisil is a natural born entrepreneur and the owner of Sophia's Succulents, selling plants and arrangements in farmers markets around the Madera, California area.  Sophia is also just getting ready to begin her 10th grad year of high school, but her 4th year of FFA.  Starting in middle school, Sophia joined the FFA kind of because that was the thing to do in her family.  However, by the end of her 8th grade year she was hooked and knew that she would wear the blue jacket for as long as she was able.

In today's interview Sophia talks about her succulent business and how she got started.  Something stood out to me as she told the story.  She said that she was at a Home Depot with a friend, and she saw pieces of a succulent plant on the floor, waiting to be swept up and thrown in the trash.  However, her curiosity was piqued, and she took the pieces home and tried to propagate her own plants with the pieces.  When she told me that part, I knew that something was different.

As I inquired further, Sophia told me that she had been trying to start businesses since about 6th Grade.  She said that she has even tried selling her own clothes.  She also said at one point she was drawing pictures and selling them on Instagram.  She did this, even when her parents told her they didn't think it would work.  That is a natural born entrepreneur!

Direct download: Sophia_Sisil_Episode_1775_-_31423_1.39_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Forrest Durham is one of the most memorable FFA entrepreneurs that I ever profiled on this show.  In just 12-16 weekends per year, during high school, he was making an very impressive income selling roasted corn at fairs and festivals.  Forrest has continued his entrepreneurial ways and now taken over his father's fudge business and his running both a mobile stand, brick and mortar location and mail order business.  I am having Forrest back on the show tomorrow to catch up with him and profile his continued entrepreneurial pursuits.  I thought playing his interview from back in 2016 would be a great tie in for tomorrow's show.

 

Direct download: OFI_1771_Replay_Of_084_Forrest_Durham_-_63023_3.35_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Baylor Bloom is the owner of "Full Bloom Harvesting", a tree shaking business located in the Central Valley of California serving almond farmers in and around Gustine.  At the time of this interview Baylor was almost 1/2 through his final semester of his 9th grade year of high school.  However, his expertise on the permanent crop farming industry of California was like somebody who had been farming for decades.

Baylor has a passion for farming, and for his families 8 generation farm.  As a matter of fact, he has immense knowledge of the history of the farm and how it changed due to the Great Depression almost 80 years ago.  Baylor took over his fathers tree shaking business, and as a freshman in high school he leases the equipment on an annual basis and is responsible for every aspect of the business.  This includes hiring people to transport his equipment since he does not have a driver's license yet and hiring labor to shake the trees during the time that he is in class at high school!

In this interview Baylor does a fantastic job of explaining to the audience how almonds are harvested, and it will of interest to anyone that has natural curiosity about farming.

Direct download: Baylor_Bloom_Episode_1770_-_31323_12.53_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Levi Knopp is just finishing up his first year of high school, but he is fortunate to be finishing his 3rd year of FFA already.  Coming from one of the school districts that allows middle school FFA, Levi got an early start.  Levi was preceded in the FFA by his sister, and she has been a significant role model for him.  

Levi has a lot of high school and FFA ahead of him, but he already has very clear goals and objectives. Among them are winning the state fair with a lamb that was born on his farm, becoming a state officer and ultimately becoming an agriculture teacher.  It is rare, even for FFA students, have such clear, long term goals identified this early.  However, it was apparent in the interview with Levi that he is a forward thinker.

Part of our discuss steered towards alternative farming methods and the world's growing population.  Levi is an optimist, and he sees the glass as half full when it comes to future population.  He is already looking into innovation and believes that new methods or farming, including urban farms and vertical farming, will be the answers that are needed to get the world through the exponential growth.  

Direct download: Levi_Knopp_Episode_1768_-_3923_4.44_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

On tomorrow's Ag Business Episode we are profiling a farmer who is feeing everything with fodder.  This individual has really revolutionized fodder production as a feed source for his livestock.  This made me think of the very first time I heard of fodder, and that was during an interview with Nancy Schiffer of the Kuna FFA Chapter in 2015.  So, we are brining it back for you today as a lead in to tomorrow's episode.

Direct download: OFI_1764_Replay_Of_055_Nancy_Schiffer_-_63023_3.22_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Peyton Zinner is a former Middle School FFA President, and now she is a freshman FFA member at Western Hills High School in Frankfort, Kentucky.  Peyton has grown up in an agricultural and FFA family.  Actually, her uncle is one of her FFA advisors, and she keeps her sheep at his home.

Peyton is already making very mature decisions for her age.  She has two major focus areas.  First, is the FFA.  She is improving the genetics in her growing flock of sheep and has objectives for breeding her own sheep that will go on to win at her county and state fair.  Her other focus area is swimming, and she has already identified the two colleges that she wants to swim at in the NCAA.

Peyton is working towards both of these goals and knows that if she takes anything else on, it will diminish her ability to succeed at these two goals.  This is a lesson that a lot of adults, especially entrepreneurs, cannot learn.  My hat is off for Peyton thinking so far ahead, and I have all the confidence in the world that she will achieve both of these goals.

Direct download: Peyton_Zinner_Episode_1763_-_3823_3.51_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Landon Berg is our first "Featured Freshman" guest of 2023.  At the time of the recording he was right in the middle of the second half of his first year of high school.  Landon lives on his fourth generation family farm, and with his father and brother they raise cattle, sheep and grow corn and soybeans.  

Landon has a passion for livestock evaluation, and that led him to be on the high school livestock evaluation team as an 8th Grader.  That team went to the National FFA Convention in 2022 and won a silver award.  Landon told me that going to the National Convention to evaluate livestock was one of his biggest goals, and here he is already having accomplished that!

So, the natural question for Landon is what is his new goal going to be.  He is very interested in the flock of sheep that he and his brother have started.  Landon is hoping to begin improving flock genetics through artificial insemination within the next couple of years.  And, he is hoping to return to the National Convention in the future as a National Proficiency Finalist.  

 

Direct download: Landon_Berg_Episode_1761_-_3723_3.04_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Andrea Buhrow is the owner of The Flower Patch, a multi-faceted flower business located in Ashton, Illinois.  Andrea first appeared on the Off-Farm Income Podcast in 2020, right in the middle of lockdowns and quarantines from Covid.  She was just beginning her FFA career and wanted to start her own enterprise, even though she had grown up on her family farm.  She loved flowers, and people were looking for something to do locally because of limitations on travel.  So, she started the Flower Patch as a "u-pick" flower farm where people could come have an experience, be outdoors and safe from transmission and leave with some beautiful flowers.

Ironically, as covid let up, this caused Andrea to pivot in her business.  Most business owners got back to normal when the pandemic waned, but for Andrea that was normal.  So, Andrea started selling bouquet subscriptions, selling at the farmer's market and continued with the u-pick business.  Today, Andrea has just graduated high school and her business is running at full capacity.  So much so, that she has had to cut back on orders for this summer!

Direct download: Andrea_Buhrow_Episode_1756_-_52223_12.02_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Kacie Wooten is the outgoing Kuna FFA Vice President, a 2023 Salutatorian, the squadron commander of her JROTC Chapter and her JROTC region's Outstanding Cadet of 2022.  That is quite a resume and some very wonderful accomplishments.

Our family has known Kacie since Hattie first joined the Kaveman Kritters 4H Club of which Kacie was also a member.  So, Autumm and I have been able to observe her as she has grown up and have become well acquainted with her family.  From this, there are two character traits that Kacie has that help to explain all of the accolades and accomplishments she already has as a recent high school graduate - service and planning.

Throughout this interview you will hear Kacie talking about the common thread between all of her activities, and that is the ability to serve others.  Surrounding that will be planning and goal setting.  Kacie is a great example of what can be accomplished when these two characteristics are combined.  And, she is not done.  She is heading to Liberty University in just a couple of months with her eyes fixed on becoming a military chaplain, once again giving her the ability to serve others.

Direct download: Kacie_Wooten_Episode_1754_-_51023_12.29_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Alicia Tomlinson is the owner and creator of One Less Thing, a company that provides teaching materials and curriculum to agriculture teachers all around the U.S.  Alicia and her husband, Brian, run this business full time and have been doing so since 2007.  Both of them were agriculture teachers until they started their family and made this switch.  Alicia was the first one to leave the workplace so that she could be home with their first born.  Eventually, One Less Thing grew so much that Brian left the workplace to partner with Alicia in the business and take some of the workload from her.

I first interviewed Alicia in 2005 after learning about her business online.  Since then I have got to know both she and Brian personally, meeting up with them at the National FFA Convention each year.  Their business continues to grow, and now the son that they started the business in order to be home with has entrepreneurial aspirations of his own and works in their business from time to time.

There are many lessons about starting and succeeding in your own business wrapped into this episode.  Alicia does a great job of illustrating those, and that is why I was excited to have her back on the show!

Direct download: Alicia_Tomlinson_Episode_1751_-_5323_2.38_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Sadie Rola has just graduated from Turlock Christian High School, just completed her term as her FFA Chapter's Reporter and just completed her term as a National FFA Style Squad Member.  What is the National FFA Style Squad?  Well, if you don't know, I didn't know either.  However, I certainly do after conducting this interview with Sadie.

Sadie and I have very similar pathways that led us into agriculture, and she is going down a very similar path in the exact same place, that I did at her age.  It is always amazing to me how when a person who has no agricultural background gets introduced to agriculture and its positive aspects, how that can bring them right into the profession.  That is one of the great things about how the FFA is reaching students from neighborhoods more and more.  We are getting more and more young people interested in agriculture.  In today's interview, Sadie will explain exactly how that worked for her.

Direct download: Sadie_Rola_Episode_1749_-_5923_2.17_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Bailey Little is the owner of Queen B Farm, a Keystone State FFA Degree recipient and a brand new high school graduate.  In her business Bailey is raising livestock, moving towards selling freezer beef and making products such as jewelry and tumblers for sale online as well as at rodeos and other craft shows.

Something really stood out in this interview with Bailey - she is not going to college.  She has a good business up and running right now, no debt and a clear idea of what she wants to do with her life.  At this point, except for a tweak here and there, she knows what she needs to know to continue to grow her business and have it be her sole form of income.

Bailey realizes that a time may come where she needs business acumen or some sort of craft methodology that she does not currently possess.  However, since she learned all the skills she needed to do what she is doing now through YouTube, she has all the confidence in the world that she can repeat that process if needed.  If that wont work, she is not opposed to taking a class or two.  But, she is opposed to devoting four years and a bunch of tuition to a degree that won't make one bit of difference in her business and will only hold her back for almost 1/2 a decade.

 

Direct download: Bailey_Little_Episode_1747_-_42823_2.00_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Sage Whetnall has just graduated high school and completed her FFA career in Cardington, Ohio.  Now it is time for her get her education, and she knows where she is going to do that.......under the blue skies of Texas on the back of a horse!

Sage and her family are very involved in the horse business from showing to rescuing to selling to rehabilitating.  As a matter of fact, Sage already is a certified equine massage therapist and wants to start her own business massaging horses in the future.  However, that future has to wait.  It has to wait for Sage to go on an adventure and to learn the real ins and outs of working on horseback.  Where better to learn that, than a cattle ranch in Texas.

Texas Lore means a lot of things to a lot of people, but it is never without cattle.  It is either cattleman who became oilman, or oilman who bought cattle ranches.  Either way, cattle are always involved.  From Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving to Woodrow Call and Augustus McRae, cattle are part of the story.  Where else is there a ranch called "King" that started its very own breed of cattle?

Sage really believes in hands on knowledge and has a passion for horses, Western riding and Western work.  So, to get the experience and knowledge she needs to really understand how a performance or working horse is hurting and how to help it, she needs to see the work itself, up close and personal.  Her plan to get this education is to go to work, and to work in exactly that field.

It is more than an adventure, it is a great way to learn!

Direct download: Sage_Whetnall_Episode_1742_-_42623_3.03_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Reagan Winner is a top four finisher for Ohio State Star Farmer in 2023.  She is also a 5th year FFA student, chapter secretary and recent high school graduate.  And underneath all of the titles, awards and the blue jacket is a person with a fiercely independent spirit and a "can-do" attitude.  

Regan has been working on her own, on her families farm in Ohio, since she was 8 years old and started pulling the grain cart.  In the 8th Grade she joined the FFA and realized that she would need a project for her supervised agricultural experience.  So, she rented 12 acres from her father, exchanged her labor in the shop on the farm and at his trucking business, and began farming on her own.  It didn't take long for her to realize that a nearby neighbor had a field that wasn't being used, and that could be productive.  So, she approached him and rented his 34 acres.  

For several years now Reagan has been farming over 40 acres on her own, working in the farm shop and working in her father's trucking business.  She services the fleet including oil changes, greasing the trailer and chassis and inspecting the entire rig to make sure it is road worthy.  Now, Reagan will be taking all those skills and pursuing a degree in ag business and ultimately becoming a certified crop advisor with the goal of starting her own business as a seed consultant.  

Direct download: Reagan_Winner_Episode_1740_-_42123_1.57_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

The Vega FFA Chapter has amassed over $1.1 million in scholarships and prizes through Ag Mechanics competitions in the State of Texas over the past 20 years.  Jay Newton is the FFA Advisor and Emily Carlson is the Chapter President of the Vega FFA Chapter, and they join me on today's episode to discuss this incredible accomplishment and journey.

Starting in 2001, Jay Newton began to look at the FFA Experience a different way.  Clearly, livestock projects dominated what students did for SAE projects, but he saw holes in those projects and opportunities for skill development that were being missed.  So, he got the idea to try something radical.  So, the next time he took his chapter to Houston, after the livestock shows were over they stayed an extra day and watched the Ag Mechanics competitions.  Then, on the way back to Vega they discussed putting the chapter's efforts towards ag mechanics rather than livestock.

The students were on board, so Jay took the idea to the school board.  This was the tough sell, but he was ready with a partnership that he had formed that would allow any FFA student to have a livestock project if that was what they wanted to do.  Permission was granted, and the journey began.  20 years later, the small Vega FFA Chapter, has a story to tell and an example to share of achieving great success through Ag Mechanics.

 

Direct download: Vega_FFA_Episode_1735_-_41823_2.58_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Sydni Wilson has just finished her junior year of high school and has already become a freelance, agricultural writer.  She has a house full of house plants, and she raises meat chickens and does all the of butchering herself, with the help of her father.  Talking with Sydni in today's interview there was a recurring theme - when she finds and interest, she goes "all in".

A fascinating part of this interview with Sydni was her love of writing.  She has started many fiction, writing projects and written the first chapter of a novel.  Then she puts it away and revisits it weeks to months later.  In most of the cases she realizes that, that initial idea was not the one that is going to drive her to write a whole novel.  It is a process, and it is an interesting way to determine which idea will give you enough motivation to carry it all the way through to a completed book.

Sydni's hobby of writing led her to an opportunity to become a freelance writer for an agricultural newspaper, while still in high school.  Today she is using those writing skills to deliver agricultural information to people who need it.  Sydni is very happy with the discovery of a practical application for her love of writing.  She has done the same with plants, and says that her love of plants and horticulture may have actually eclipsed her love of writing!

Direct download: Sydni_Wilson_Episode_1733_-_41723_6.18_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Sheldon McKinney is the Executive Director of the Kentucky FFA Foundation.  She is also the president of a group of foundation directors who have come together to collaborate on how to best support the FFA in their individual states.

On today's episode Sheldon is joining us to discuss how fundraising works, where the money goes and what it means to be a 501(c)3 organization and why that is necessary.  The business of fundraising at the national, state or local level is a big business.  As Sheldon says, money should never be an obstacle that stops an FFA student from taking advantage of the myriad opportunities available to them through the organization.  State FFA Foundations exist to connect chapters and students to donors who want to support youth, agriculture and agricultural education.

Direct download: Sheldon_McKinney_Episode_1730_-_51723_3.18_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

On tomorrow's Ag Business Episode I am speaking with the executive director of the Kentucky FFA Foundation.  We are going to be speaking about supporting state FFA Foundations as well as a new group of FFA Foundation Directors that has been formed called LEADS.

Anytime I think of Kentucky FFA, I think of this interview with Kaitlyn Elliot.  I was so impressed by the old school manner in which she and her grandfather were growing, harvesting and processing sorghum.  And, she sent me some delicious syrup which we thoroughly enjoyed.  So, in honor of our Kentucky guest tomorrow, I am bringing this interview with Kaitlyn back.

 

Direct download: OFI_1729_Replay_Of_104_-_52423_1.51_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST