Off-Farm Income (FFA )

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:



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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 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

Mylie Rexing is a district and chapter FFA officer and soon to be agriculture student at Purdue University.  She has been working her father's butcher shop for several years, throughout high school.  During that time an idea occurred to her to make ready to cook meals for people to purchase from the shop that would simplify meal prep for them at home.  Mylie's Meals To Go was born.

Mylie has come up with a number of iterations of ready to go meals during this time, and that took her all the way to being an Indiana State Finalist in Ag Sales.  During that time Mylie wanted to give back to her community, and she came up with a program of donating milk to families who needed with every sale of a ready to prepare meal.  Mylie stated that her family has always been one that gives back, and she had watched that example while growing up.  So, it felt like a natural fit for her to incorporate giving into her own business as well.

Direct download: Mylie_Rexing_Episode_1728_-_41323_2.33_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Olivia Black is a senior in high school, a second year FFA student and the Michigan Star Award Winner in Agribusiness.  In Olivia's school district the FFA Chapter is run by the Ionia County Career Center, and high school students are only eligible to attend there starting in the 11th Grade.  Olivia has grown up showing cattle and pigs and with a significant family history in the Dairy Industry, so she knew that she wanted to be in the FFA.  When she started her junior year, she enrolled in an agricultural course at the career center, making her eligible for the FFA, and she joined.

Two years prior to this is when Olivia's journey as an entrepreneur began however.  Olivia has a rare gift that only a small percentage of entrepreneurs have.  She was dissatisfied with a product that she was using on her show pigs, and rather than keep looking for something that worked better or settling for what she had, she decided to make her own.  Absolute Products was born at that moment, and she has been developing this business ever since then.

Now, at age 17, Olivia has stood out among all the other FFA students in Michigan, even though she has less than two years of records.  She is selling her product all over the Upper Midwest, and she plans on expanding even further.  In addition, she is finding that while her product was developed for use on pigs, it works well on both dairy and beef cattle.

Olivia loves the livestock exhibition world, but she realized that in the not too distant future she was going to age out eligibility to show livestock.  So, she has created a business that will keep her connected to this world and will help exhibitors everywhere solve some of their most frustrating issues.  Olivia is off to college soon to get a degree in Ag Business, and it is all directed at growing this business.

Direct download: Olivia_Black_Episode_1726_-_4723_1.42_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

On tomorrow's Ag Business Episode I am interviewing an entrepreneur with a goat milk soap business.  As you know, the goat milk soap business is one of my favorites to profile.  Well, tomorrow's guest discloses that her family got goats first, and then her pragmatic husband said that these goats need to pull their own weight if they are going to stay.  And that is what led to their goat milk soap business.

This reminded me of the interview I did with Sydney Gordon way back in 2016.  She loved goats and talked her father into getting some for their farm.  However, he said the same thing - "these goats need to pay for themselves".  And that is what led her goat milk soap business.  I thought this tied in perfectly with tomorrow's show, and I am happy to bring it back for you today.


Direct download: OFI_1722_Replay_Of_146_-_52223_11.10_AM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

On today's episode I get to do something that I love, and something new that is a lot of fun.  I will be profiling a great, Idaho FFA Student named Zane Nichols, and I will be promoting a summer kickoff festival in Cambridge, Idaho called Hells Canyon Days.  So, this episode will be a bit different than normal.

In the first half of the episode I am speaking with Zane, who will be working in the concession booth on behalf of the Cambridge FFA on Friday night of the festival at an event called "Bulls & Broncs".  I will also be speaking with the president of the Cambridge Commercial Club, Blake Loveland, and we will be talking all about the festival.

After I finish that part of the episode it is back to Zane to talk about beef cattle and working on a grain and hay operation as well as which sport he hopes to play at the next level.  Enjoy the episode!

Direct download: Hells_Canyon_Days_Episode_1721_-_51623_2.33_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Dori Stuever is a driven FFA student, a regional officer, a business owner and the feature of a newspaper article about her maple syrup business, County Line Kinds Pure Maple Syrup.  Concentrating on marketing through social media, Dori is selling maple syrup throughout the United States, and she is the 6th generation in her family to be in this business.

Dori is also partnered with two neighbors, either tapping their trees or using their sugar shack for refining her maple sap into maple syrup.  Being from the wide open, treeless spaces of Southwest Idaho, it is difficult for me to imagine, but Dori spends a lot of time in the woods of Michigan.  She is either locating trees to tap, tending to her current taps or make sure that her prospective trees are healthy.

Dori is primarily home schooled, but she signed up for agriculture classes when she was in the 7th grade so that she would be able to be a part of the FFA.  The FFA is another family tradition for her, going back to the days when her female relatives were not allowed to participate.  When Dori is not at Capac High School for her agriculture classes, she is at home tending to her taps and frequently doing school work out in the woods because that is where she spends her time.

Direct download: Dori_Stuever_Episode_1719_-_4623_2.17_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Taylor Crouch is a sophomore in high school and her FFA chapter's reporter.  She is also a three sport athlete and a serial entrepreneur at the age of 15.  There is a lot to talk about from this interview with Taylor, but throughout all of the different sports, livestock shows, businesses and ways of connecting with people throughout the U.S. one theme stood out.  The more active you are in high school, the more opportunities that you will be exposed to.  In this way, students who are very involved really do have an advantage.

Based on Taylor's description of herself, I would call her an extrovert.  However, not everyone is an extrovert, and that is fine.  I think what is proven in this interview that is introverted students need to find a way to get outside of their comfort zone and become active.  The reason is that the activity will lead you to meet new people, be exposed to different circumstances and experience new things.  Somewhere inside of all of that activity there is something that will resonate with you, and will help to shape your future.

I consider myself an introvert, and I think my daughter is one also.  I don't think that a person needs to be as social as Taylor to be exposed to many opportunities.  But, and introverted person still needs to follow their interests and get involved in those interests.  The biggest challenge for them may be not allowing their natural introversion to keep them from pursuing those interests.  And, as Taylor points out in the interview, the FFA is an excellent place to learn to push those comfort zones and to start getting exposed to situations that will eventually spark and interest.


Direct download: Taylor_Crouch_Episode_1714_-_4323_11.56_AM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Agustin Luna is a sophomore at J.W. Nixon High School in Laredo, Texas, he is the chapter's reporter and he is responsible for cooking the pork ribs on the barbecue team.  That's right, the barbecue team.

Until an article popped up on my news feed the other day, I was unaware that there was such a think as a high school barbecue competition.  However, Agustin goes to school in Texas, so I shouldn't have been surprised.  Agustin and his team have qualified to be in the state championship in may, just a few days before this episode is aired.  The championship is held in Round Rock, at the baseball field that was built there to honor Nolan Ryan.  How can you get more Texas than barbecue and Nolan Ryan.

Agustin and each of his teammates are assigned an item to cook for the competition.  Each dish is scored individually by judges, the scores are compiled and a gross score is given to each team.  The top teams from each regional competition get to advance, and J.W. Nixon is one of those teams this year.  This is not an FFA competition, but at J.W. Nixon High School the team is from the FFA chapter.

Direct download: Agustin_Luna_Episode_1712_-_32223_2.25_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Seth Ariens is the Indiana State FFA President.  Amazingly, he is also the Indiana State Star Farmer.  In a great FFA state like Indiana, either one of those accomplishments puts you among the elite to ever have worn the blue jacket in the Hoosier State, but to be selected to both of those coveted positions, on the same night no less, puts you in rare air indeed!

In today's episode Seth describes his pathway to becoming a state officer.  In describing this his says something that is a real key to the success that he is currently experiencing.  He never looked at any of the officer positions that he held as a stepping stone.  He went into all of them determined to serve as best as possible in that position, and the rest kind of took care of itself.

On the side of being the State Star Farmer, Seth has had some "happy accidents".  I wouldn't call it luck however.  We always say on this show that luck is preparation meets opportunity.  Well, Seth looked at some things that happened as accidents and turned them into opportunities.  For example, when his Australian Shepherd was unintentionally bred by another Australian Shepherd, Seth took advantage of the moment to sell the puppies and add this to his record book.  His SAE was diversified agriculture, and her was another opportunity to diversify.  It is this outlook on looking for opportunity that has helped to propel him to such great heights.

Direct download: Seth_Ariens_Episode_1707_-_32123_3.27_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Brook Cutchin is the secretary of the Deane Bozeman FFA Chapter in Southport, Florida.  She is also just 16 years of age and slated to graduate high school one year early later this month.  She is heading to college next fall and has been accepted to a programed called "3 & 3", which means in her fourth year of her bachelor's degree she simultaneously begins graduate school, which for her will be studying the law to become an attorney and advocate for agriculture.

Brook first got introduced to the FFA her 9th grade year of high school when she took a required, introduction to agriculture class.  At that point she realized that she wanted to raise livestock, and she has been engaged in the FFA ever since.  She even raised and showed her own pig, showing and selling it at the Florida State Fair this past February.

The FFA has exposed Brook to many experiences that she never expected, and it played a major role in accelerating her time high school and graduating early.  One of the experiences that Brook had through the FFA, that drew my attention to her chapter, was facilitating a goat yoga class for people in her community.  She, along with other chapter members and supporters of her FFA chapter, put on a goat yoga class, for free.  Donations to help the chapter build a livestock barn were accepted, but there was no charge to attend.

I've always wondered what the appeal of goat yoga is.  Brook informed me that the point is to help people with anxiety about doing yoga in front of others, to let that go because everyone is watching the goats and not each other.  I certainly believe that is what happens.

Direct download: Brook_Cutchin_Episode_1705_-_32223_3.18_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Brycen Cole is in the 8th Grade and is a Junior FFA Member at Roby High School in Roby, Texas.  Ever since he discovered podcasts, he has wanted to be a guest on one.  So, when he heard that I was going to be interviewing one of the high school FFA members at Roby, he proactively asked his advisor to ask me if he could come on the show. I like proactivity.  I obliged.  

Brycen shows steers, plays three sports and is excited for the future.  He told me that he is not sure what he will do, but he is certain that he will either be a basketball coach or an FFA advisor in the future.  For now, he has his sights set on becoming an official FFA member next year and getting busy with everything that the FFA has to offer.  

Direct download: Brycen_Cole_Episode_1700_-_31623_3.23_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

I have an exciting announcement in today's farm update.  Hattie has been selected as her FFA Chapter's President.  This comes on the heels of her being selected as her FFA District's President.  So much of what she is accomplishing now has roots in the audience of this show supporting us and helping us grow, and we wanted to say thank you!

And, for students that are considering becoming a technician for a tractor manufacturer I have a story to share with you today.  Depending on why you have chosen this path, this announcement may make a difference as to whether or not you continue to pursue this.

Here is the link to the article:


Direct download: OFI_1699_Tuesday_Episode_-_5123_4.25_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Matthew Ruff is a farmer from Ohio, a first year student at The Ohio State University and part of a family of agriculturists and innovators.  Matthew's parents both grew up on farms and decided that they wanted to farm as well.  So, after their marriage in 1997, they started pursuing enterprises that could lead to having their own farm.  Ultimately, they purchased their own property and kept building it up.  Today, Matt farms over 4,000 acres along side his parents, brother and sister. 

What initially drew my attention to Matt was an article I read indicating that he had an "ear corn" enterprise.  However, the article did not describe the specifics of the operation.  During the interview I found out that he has taken over responsibility for growing 25-40 acres of ear corn with the intention of picking it, shucking it, bagging it and selling it on Amazon!  

During the interview Matthew explains that there is strong demand for ear corn, still on the husk, by people who want to feed it to wildlife like squirrels and deer.  He said that they have shipped bags of corn grown on their farm to every state in the lower 48!  What an amazing niche....

Direct download: Matthew_Ruff_Episode_1698_-_31423_3.01_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

On tomorrow's ag business episode I am speaking with an agricultural entrepreneur who has taken "cleaning" to a whole new level.  I thought this interview with Sean Westergaard from 2016 about his gutter cleaning business was the perfect lead in.


Direct download: OFI_1694_-_42623_9.53_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Adam Johnson is the chapter president of the Sleepy Eye FFA Chapter in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota.  He is also the 2022 Minnesota State Proficiency winner in the category of poultry production and a 2022 National Silver Award winner.

During his time in high school Adam has been raising meat chickens during the summer for his supervised agricultural experience.  He has been using the pastured poultry model and chicken tractor model taught by Joel Salatin, with a twist.  Adam and his family do all of the butchering of the birds, and they use a cylindrical chicken plucker to remove the feathers.  However, they found that there were still small feathers to be pulled and pin feathers to be burnt off of the birds, even after doing that.  That is a very time consuming process.

To remedy this extra time that is needed, Adam and his family started skinning the birds to circumvent the need for this process.  Of course, there will be customers who want the skin on the birds.  So, they have shifted their business model to finding customers who want the birds skinned.  This has worked, and now they have altered their operation so it serves everyone equally.


Direct download: Adam_Johnson_Episode_1693_-_3923_5.37_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Lillie Cagle is the newly elected Tennessee FFA State Sentinel, and former East Tennessee Regional FFA President.  She is also the chapter president of the Bledsoe County FFA and a senior in high school.

Lillie has a very unique story of how she came to be involved in the FFA.  From the age of 12 -14 Lillie had some major responsibilities in her family, and even though her family raises cattle and she lives in an agricultural community she had not given any thought to the FFA or even knew what it stood for.  However, around the beginning of her freshman year of high school those family responsibilities came to an end, and she was left kind of wondering what to do with her newly discovered free time.  That is when the then president of the Bledsoe FFA Chapter invited her to an FFA meeting and told her that he thought it would be good for her.  Nothing has been the same since.

Lillie has started an agricultural education project called "Ag Across The Board" aimed at teaching elementary students across the State Of Tennessee about agriculture.  She has even run a summer camp to teach about agriculture and received upwards of $15,000 in donations to purchase a trailer and be a mobile agricultural education resource.  Lillie is making a huge difference in the world of agriculture, and after hearing this interview you will think so too!

Direct download: Lillie_Cagle_Episode_1691_-_3823_3.17_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Casey DeVries is the "Test Plot Chairman" for the Forreston FFA Chapter in Forreston, Illinois.  If that is a title you have never heard of before, it was also a new one for me.  Casey's family has been farming in the Forreston area since 1948 when his great grandfather purchased farmland there.  Today some of their land sits across the road from the high school.  So, during Casey's freshman year he suggested doing test plots of corn in that field to compare varieties and provide the agriculture department a way to do hands on learning.  The project stuck and is still doing four years later, and will continue after Casey leaves high school.

Casey and his family have a large farm and a large shop.  Working on machinery and engines in the shop is a significant part of keeping the farm going.  So, Casey has been doing something mechanical since around age 5.  When it came time for an SAE, he decided to challenge himself.  He purchased an old tractor, brought home and tore it all apart.  He restored the transmission, the rear end and even painted it himself.  And then he marketed it on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist.  Within one week it was sold to a gentleman in Wisconsin!


Direct download: Casey_DeVries_Episode_1686_-_3723_2.07_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Rylee Terveen is her FFA Chapter's President, a national Bronze Proficiency Award winner and a driven entrepreneur.  Growing up in a family of agricultural entrepreneurs, Rylee knows what direction she wants to take for her future career.  She will be graduating high school this year, and then it is off to South Dakota State University to study entrepreneurship.

There is a family business already established that Rylee can move into.  As a matter of fact, she plans on taking it over along with her sister and running their families hunting lodge.  However, it is a seasonal business, and, maybe more importantly, it is not of Rylee's making.  Rylee knows she wants to be self-employed, and she knows that she wants to create something of her own.  So, when college is done and when it is time to move into her career, she will be forming a business based on the knowledge she already has and the knowledge that she has yet to gain.


Direct download: Rylee_Terveen_Episode_1684_-_3623_3.02_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Kyleigh Lock is just a sophomore in high school, but has accomplished a lot in just a short period of time.  She is already her chapter's president and a district officer, and she has one several proficiency awards at the area and district levels.  She is completely devoted to the FFA and to agriculture and it shows.  When I asked her if she had any activities outside of the FFA, her answer was "yes, in the 4H", which made me chuckle.

Kyleigh is trying to build up her show string of heifers with superior genetics and phenotypes so that she can find success at larger and larger shows.  However, obtaining heifers is not a cheap thing to do, so she has gotten creative.  She has entered and succeeded at multiple different calf scrambles to obtain the show heifer she is ultimately looking for.

Kyleigh has already mapped out a pathway to becoming a veterinarian, and she already knows that she wants to open her own practice in the future.  Something about her work ethic tells me that she is going to make it happen!


Direct download: Kyleigh_Lock_Episode_1679_-_3223_3.19_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Daniel Laurent is a sophomore at Caldwell County High School, but he might as well be an instructor already when it comes to the breeding and showing of pigs.  He is just in his second year of the FFA, officially, but all of his four older siblings were in the FFA and he has been talking and getting FFA experiences for the past 13 years since his eldest sister joined.

Daniel has a passion for animal agriculture, which has been apparent his entire life.  When he was 8 years old he did his own research and told his father that he thought they should change their entire pig breeding operation from Yorkshires to Duroc's.  He has his argument well thought out and documented, and eventually, this happened.

Today Daniel gets more excitement out of seeing a 10 year old kid win in the show ring with a Laurent pig than he does actually winning himself.  He loves the process of matching up the correct pigs phenotypically and genotypically and then seeing the success it brings.  All of this, and he still does not even have a driver's license!

Direct download: Daniel_Laurent_Episode_1677_-_3223_1.57_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

On tomorrow's episode of the Off-Farm Income Podcast, we are featuring a gentleman who has spent his career running his own excavation business.  We will be highlighting what it took for him to move his business from Michigan to Texas.

This interview reminded me of another great guest who had come on the show back in 2018.  Back then, Jon McNees was an FFA student.  He had been working his father's excavation business for years, and he was progressively getting more and more responsibility.  What I loved about the interview with Jon, is that he did not just think it was his birthright to work in that company.  Even in high school he was doing whatever he could to add value to the company.  He was able to do this through his participation in the FFA and by learning as much as he could about soils.

Bringing back this interview with Jon is the perfect lead in, to tomorrow's ag business episode.

Direct download: OFI_1673_Replay_Of_440_-_4323_2.22_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Austin Elam is a senior at Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School in Paxton, Illinois.  Prior to his sophomore year of high school Austin never envisioned himself as an FFA member, but because of Covid he was forced to choose one of two elective courses, introduction to agriculture or home economics.  He chose agriculture, and after being introduced to different discussions about livestock he was totally hooked and became very active in the FFA.  

Today Austin is preparing to graduate high school, and he has decided that he would like to return to the classroom in the future as an agriculture teacher.  He has found a program in Illinois that will allow him to attend a community college and take courses through the University Of Illinois leading to a bachelor's degree.  Through this method he will be able to obtain his degree without paying the high cost of tuition at Illinois.  Austin is a pragmatic thinker, and he plans to bring that back to the classroom for future agriculture students.  


Direct download: Austin_Elam_Episode_1672_-_3123_2.33_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Isaac Hopke is the current Wisconsin State FFA Secretary.  He is also the owner of American Landscaping in Spooner, Wisconsin and a student at the Univeristy Of Wisconsin, River Falls.  Isaac's family purchased their farm when he was just four years old, but he can still remember the transition.  From that point forward he developed a passion for the agricultural life and began showing animals in the 4H.

When 7th Grade arrived, Isaac was eligible to sign up for the FFA in his middle school.  At the same time his older brother was slated to go the National Convention but had to drop out, so Isaac took his place.  After seeing his first National Convention, Isaac was hooked! He has been totally devoted to serving in the FFA ever since.

Isaac continues to run American Landscaping, even as a full-time college student.  And, he is currently changing his business status from sole proprietor to LLC.  He has all of his options for a future career open right now with self-employment remaining at the top of the list.


Direct download: Isaac_Hopke_Episode_1670_-_22823_3.09_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Aidan Yoho is the 2022 State Star Farmer of Kansas FFA and the State Secretary.  He will hold both of those titles until July of 2023.  But back in July of 2022, Aidan was simply an FFA Member from Yates Center, Kansas who was attending his state convention and who had thrown his hat in the ring in these two categories.  As it turned out, state star farmer and the state officer team were both announced during the same session of the state convention.  So, within 20 minutes of Aidan's life he went from not holding either of these titles to holding both!

So, where did this all start for him.  It started with a passion for farming that still exists on Aidan's land today, his great-grandfather.  Aidan's great-grandfather started farming with his brother on leased ground over 50 years ago.  Today, Aidan farms with his father and his great-grandfather, but unfortunately his grandfather passed away in 2021.  Being able to work with and learn from this great-grandfather has taught Aidan many valuable lessons about being successful in agriculture.

One of those lessons is that there is money to be made doing things that nobody else wants to do.  Aidan listened to this advice, and that is how he got his start.  Both in cattle and forage production, he applied the same philosophy.  Aidan started out purchasing dairy cross calves that needed to be dehorned because they were cheap and not many people wanted them.  He also identified problem areas on the farm that nobody wanted to mess with and started growing hay on them.

Today that has developed into an operation that allows Aidan to farm the more desirable hay ground and to purchase better cattle that end up making him more money in the long run.  He has his sights set on returning to the family farm and running it when the time is right, but for now he is giving his full focus to making a run at being the American Star Farmer in a couple of years!


Direct download: Aidan_Yoho_Episode_1665_-_22823_1.57_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Makenzie McDaniel is a senior at Flowing Wells High School in Tucson, Arizona, and she is the "student advisor" member of her FFA Chapter's Officer Team.  Makenzie has her sights set on becoming an ag teacher and FFA Advisor herself, and this role on the officer team suits that pursuit perfectly.

In this role, Makenzie watches how her fellow chapter members are progressing, sees what they need help with and is there to answer questions.  When one of them is stumbling or has questions, she is there to assist, but without taking over, just by advising.  It takes a lot of maturity to know how to advise without completely taking over the show, an Makenzie is already there.

In addition to her role on the officer team, Makenzie raises a market steer and market goat for the county fair, and she keeps them at the school's facility.  This allows her and students who don't have land to raise animals and get that real world experience.  Makenzie has applied to attend the Univeristy of Arizona, right there in Tucson, to study ag education.  And, in about 5 years, I am hoping to be interviewing one of Makenzie's FFA students!

Direct download: Makenzie_McDaniel_Episode_1663_-_22723_11.40_AM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Wyatt Black is a sophomore in high school and is already mastering the art of adding value and finding profit.  Wyatt has grown up with and around agriculture on his families small farm near Casstown, Ohio.  As a member of the Miami East FFA Chapter, he needed to develop an SAE.  That was no problem because he and his father had already been finding, repairing and re-selling used equipment for years.  It was a natural fit, and Wyatt turned this into his project.  Wyatt tends to specialize in fixing up trailers if he can.  He says that he sees the highest demand for them, and they are generally the easiest to repair.

Direct download: Wyatt_Black_Episode_1658_-_22323_8.53_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Allie Koss is the owner and creator of Happy's Horse Treats.  She is also a sophomore in high school and the FFA Chapter Sentinel at the Arizona Agribusiness & Equine Center of Paradise Valley, Arizona, which is a charter school specializing in agriculture.  All students at the AAEC are FFA members, but there are different levels of activity for each of them.

Allie has grown up in the city, and her parents are not experienced in agriculture.  However, at age 4 Allie said she wanted to take horseback riding lessons.  Being wise parents, they did not just let Allie jump right into full blown lessons.  For one year they took her to the Phoenix Zoo where she could get exposure to horses and some experience riding to gauge if her level of enthusiasm was genuine.  It turned out that it was, and Allie has been riding horses ever since.

One day, at the barn that she rides at, a veterinarian was floating the teeth of a horse and showed Allie how to do it.  From this point she was hooked and knew she wanted to be a veterinarian.  This led to conversations with older people at the barn and the discover of the AAEC.  Ultimately, this led her to the agricultural charter school and the FFA.  It also led to her experimenting with making horse treats, her friends telling her that she should start a business and eventually, the birth of Happy's Horse Treats.  Today, Allie sells horse treats from coast to coast and plans on growing her business through the end of high school, but possibly until she begins veterinary school in several years.


Direct download: Allie_Koss_Episode_1656_-_22123_3.13_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Sydney Bruchhaus is the Louisiana State FFA Secretary, the Louisiana State Star Farmer and a senior in high school.  To hear that an FFA student has achieved both state office and won a state star award is incredible enough, but to hear that they did this while still in high school is extremely rare or maybe never heard of.  However, that is not the last or maybe even the most amazing part of Sydney's story.  

Sydney spend the first two years of her FFA experience being quiet and shy.  She took leadership roles and was a chapter officer, but she preferred to be the person who got things done in the background.  However, at the beginning of her junior year of high school Sydney's FFA Advisor pushed her to participate in a public speaking contest.  Sydney was nervous, which pushed her to practice, and she wound up taking second place in the entire state.  

That second place price lit a fire in Sydney, and from that point on she was doing whatever public speaking that she could.  She developed her skills very rapidly and devoted all of her time to practicing.  Within 9 months of that first contest it was time for the Louisiana State FFA Convention, and she had decided to pursue becoming a state officer, even though she had only served as a chapter officer and not an area or district officer.  And then, she was selected at the same convention that she won star farmer.  

Sydney is living proof that it is never too late to do something great, and that you can accomplish things that other people think are impossible.  


Direct download: Sydney_Bruchhaus_Episode_1642_-_2123_2.57_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Courtney Baker is a Pennsylvania State Proficiency Winner, a five sport athlete, a chapter officer and an FFA standout from Ulysses, Pennsylvania.  Courtney graduated from Northern Potter High School in May of 2022, got married and moved to Alaska, all in a period of a few months.  Now she is busy living on an Air Force base where her husband is serving and she is studying to become an elementary school teacher through Liberty University.  

Courtney is used to working on the family dairy, competing in one to two sports per semester, serving as an officer and becoming a state proficiency winner.  Now, she is pouring that energy and drive into her future career, her marriage and activities on base when there is only 3 hours of partial daylight outside during the Fairbanks, Alaska winter.  

When Courtney finishes college and student teaching she plans to enter the elementary classroom with the goal of motivating and inspiring students the way her teacher did for her.  She also wants to coach basketball.  I can tell from her work ethic that she will do both to great effect.  

Direct download: Courtney_Baker_Episode_1637_-_13123_3.24_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

Whitley Anderson is a District Officer in the Lonewolf FFA District in West Texas.  She is also the chapter Vice-President at Snyder High School and immediate past-chapter president.  She raises pigs and chickens and definitely has a passion for agriculture.  As strong as Whitley's love to agriculture is, her love for sharing it with other people is stronger.

Whitely is currently a junior in high school, and she has her sights set on becoming an agricultural lobbyist after she completes high school.  She wants to advocate for agriculture at the highest levels and be part of what keeps agriculture seen as the "backbone of America".  She is not waiting for that first lobbyist position to start advocating however.  Right now, in Snyder, Texas she is taking the opportunity to share agriculture with everyone.

Just one week before Whitley and I did this interview she facilitated the "Scurry Stars Livestock Show".  Snyder High School is in Scurry County.  Whitley had seen that some of her peers in other parts of Texas were parts of livestock shows for students with special needs, so she came back to Scurry County and proposed this to all the relevant decision makers.  Everyone decided to move forward, and the second livestock show for students with special needs was completed, this time including goats and pigs rather than just chickens.  Whitley said she was nervous, but everything went very well and she is excited to do it again next year and watch it grow!

Direct download: Whitley_Anderson_Episode_1635_-_12623_1.34_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST

On tomorrow's Ag Business Episode I am featuring two gentlemen with a very unique hay baling business.  This made me think of the episode I did with Saydee Longhurst several years ago, and how she discovered a niche in how she was selling small bales.  On today's re-cap episode I want to bring back that interview as the perfect tie in for tomorrow's show.


Direct download: OFI_1631_Replay_Of_448_-_22223_4.34_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MST