Off-Farm Income (FFA )

I am always happy and honored when a listener reached out and requests to be part of the show.  Sometimes it is a fit, and sometimes it is not, but I am always thrilled that they want to be part of what we are doing here.  Our guest today is one such listener.  Kyleigh Render is a very impressive FFA student.  She will be "graduating" from high school in one month, but there is a twist to her story.  Kyleigh is homeschooled, so her experience has been a bit different.

During Kyleigh's freshman year of high school, she actually did attend school on campus with other students.  This was in Michigan.  She took an agriculture class that semester, and thus, she was automatically enrolled in the FFA.  This stuck.  She relished the group and the roles that she could play.  Soon, her parents decided to move to be by family just outside of Belgrade, Montana and she went back to homeschooling.  However, she took it it upon herself to seek out the Belgrade FFA Chapter and inquire about membership.  They were very familiar with having homeschool students in their chapter, and she was welcomed right in.

Today, as Kyleigh looks forward to her career after high school, she is very motivated to educate others about and advocate for agriculture.  As a result, she started "The Farmer's Story Podcast" this previous February, and she has been telling the stories of how food gets grown and produced in the U.S. ever since.  Her long term goal is to interview a farmer from every state in the U.S.

Kyleigh wants to build "The Farmer's Story Podcast" into a full-time career, and she is ready to launch!  Just as soon as her high school career ends, she will be off to the races!

SUPERVISED AGRICULTURAL EXPERIENCE: The Farmer's Story Podcast

HIGH SCHOOL: Homeschooled and part of the Belgrade FFA Chapter; Belgrade, Montana

MASCOT: Panthers

FFA ADVISOR: Kyle Gavin

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR KYLEIGH RENDER:

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

Kyleigh's FFA Advisor's Email Address: kgavin@bsd44.org

Belgrade High School Telephone Number: 406 388 6862

FFA LINKS:

National FFA Organization

Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE's)

Support FFA 

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

REASONS TO DONATE TO FFA:

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

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

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue

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

 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1417_Kyleigh_Render-COMM_12_46-061122.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Rarely does this happen, but today's interview features the daughter of my previous Friday episode guest.  Shelby Shuman has just finished her junior year of high school, and she has been conducting auctions since she was twelve years old.  Early on in her auction career she knew she wanted to start her own business, but she never really implemented it until her freshman year of high school when she joined the FFA and was required to start a supervised agricultural experience.  At that point, Shelby Shuman Auctions was born.

Inspired by her father, Scott Shuman (featured in episode 1413), she now travels all over the country conducting auctions.  Her niche is benefit auctions, and she has great success finding clients.  As Shelby puts it, it is rare to find a female auctioneer, but to find one who is in high school and in the FFA is extremely rare.  In addition to her outstanding skill conducting auctions, the uniqueness of her stature makes her a big draw.

Shelby has one year of high school left, and then she is off to Liberty University in Virginia to study entrepreneurship.  Being a career auctioneer is in the list of possibilities for Shelby, but she has not made up her mind yet.  She is going to go explore all of the options that are out there for her and find the correct path.  If it leads to auctioneering like her father, then so be it.  If it does not, she will always have the skills and experience that beginning an auction career at age 12 can give you!

SUPERVISED AGRICULTURAL EXPERIENCE: Auctioneering

HIGH SCHOOL: Eaton High School; Eaton, Colorado

MASCOT: Indians

FFA ADVISOR: Heidi Lanning

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR SHELBY SHUMAN:

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

Shelby's FFA Advisor's Email Address: hlanning@eaton.k12.co.us

Eaton High School Telephone Number: (970) 454-3374

FFA LINKS:

National FFA Organization

Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE's)

Support FFA 

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

REASONS TO DONATE TO FFA:

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

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

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue

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

 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1415_Shelby_Shuman-COMM_8_50-053122.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

On tomorrow's ag business episode we are featuring a gentleman who has made an interesting career out of auctioning farm and ranch real estate.  On the following Monday we are featuring his daughter, who is in the FFA and is also an auctioneer.  It is a complete look into the world of this interesting and fundamental career.  So, for our re-cap episode this week I wanted to take a look back at some of the other auctioneers who I have profiled on the show.  Who better than Cotton Booker, who as the 2018 International Junior Auctioneer Champion!

The original show notes are below:

INTRODUCING COTTON BOOKER!

Today I get to introduce you to a humble young man who is having great success.  Cotton Booker is the 2018 International Junior Auctioneer Champion, the youngest ever auctioneer at the Barrett Jackson Auction and the Washington State Star winner in agribusiness.

Cotton's family is in the auctioneering business, and he has been learning about it his whole life.  Cotton has had a lot of success through auctioneering, and he went to a professional auctioneer's school when he was only 13 years old as the youngest student they had there.

Today, Cotton works for his families business, and he has also started his own auction company, Booker Auction.  He is carrying on the family legacy and trying to help people out in agriculture when it comes time for an estate sale or otherwise.

SUPERVISED AGRICULTURAL EXPERIENCE: Auctioneering

HIGH SCHOOL: Colfax High School; Colfax, Washington

MASCOT: Bulldogs

FFA ADVISOR: Michael Heitstuman

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR COTTON BOOKER:

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

Cotton's FFA Advisors' Email Addresses: MICHAEL.HEITSTUMAN@csd300.com

Colfax High School's Telephone Number: (509) 397-4368

FFA LINKS:

National FFA Organization

Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE's)

Support FFA 

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

REASONS TO DONATE TO FFA:

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

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

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue

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

 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1412_Replay_Of_Episode_671-COMM_7_13-060822.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

I am starting to think that plant breeders are born, not made.  At least every time I interview a young man or woman with this passion it appears that is correct.  In today's interview I am speaking with a junior in high school that has already obtained $10,000 in funding to begin an apple orchard on his high school's property.  Gabe Olson-Jensen is our featured guest, and look at this list of accomplishments:

  • Started working at a local orchard at age 12
  • Grafted his first trees at age 12
  • Obtained land at his school start a 1/4 acre apple orchard in 2020
  • Applied for and received a $1,000 SAE grant in 2020
  • Applied for and recieved $9,000 in funding from USDA SARE in 2020
  • Purchased 200 apple trees and trellising and began the orchard in 2020
  • Using integrated pest management to sustain and grow the fruit trees

Gabe really has an amazing story as so many of these seed breeders do.  Today, we will profile it all for you!

SUPERVISED AGRICULTURAL EXPERIENCE: Plant Research

HIGH SCHOOL: River Falls High School; River Falls, Wisconsin

MASCOT: Wildcats

FFA ADVISOR: Ryan Pechacek

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR GABE OLSON-JENSEN:

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

Gabe's FFA Advisor's Email Address: ryan.pechacek@rfsd.k12.wi.us 

River Falls High School Telephone Number: 715-425-1830

FFA LINKS:

National FFA Organization

Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE's)

Support FFA 

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

REASONS TO DONATE TO FFA:

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

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

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue

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

 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1411_Gabe_Olson-Jensen_COMM_6_36-053022.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

It is so interesting how students answer the elevator question I ask them during my interviews.  Mallory Bowers' answer may be the most interesting that I have heard thus far.  She told me that "agriculture saves lives", and then she went on to articulate her thoughts on why this is.  Everything from people finding their purpose to the basic need for food was included in her explanation.

I guess I should not be surprised. Mallory was raised by an FFA advisor, and she has already began the transition process of taking over her families sheep operation.  In addition that, she joined the FFA just as soon as the rules would allow her, and she was just recently named the State of Indiana Proficiency Winner in Sheep Production!

Mallory will have graduated high school by the time that this interview airs, and she is headed to Lincoln Land College just over the state border to study agriculture, compete in livestock judging and prepare herself for the dual careers of teaching agriculture and running her own sheep operation.  As I told her during the interview, she is planning on being busy.  She replied with an "Oh, Yeah!".

SUPERVISED AGRICULTURAL EXPERIENCE: Sheep Production

HIGH SCHOOL: Tippecanoe Valley High School; Akron, Ohio

MASCOT: Vikings

FFA ADVISOR: Michael Jones

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR MALLORY BOWERS:

Click on the picture below to be taken to the Tippecanoe Valley High School Website:

Mallory's FFA Advisor's Email Address: jonesm@tvsc.k12.in.us

Tippecanoe Valley High School Telephone Number: 574-598-2100

FFA LINKS:

National FFA Organization

Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE's)

Support FFA 

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

REASONS TO DONATE TO FFA:

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

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

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue

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

 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1409_Mallory_Bowers-COMM_8_11-052922.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

INTRODUCING LANE COLSTON!

There was a very consistent theme running through today's interview with Lane Colston from Western Hills High School FFA.....people.  When I asked Lane about why he had joined the FFA, he talked about all the great people he had known who had been FFA members, and he also talked about the great people he has been able to meet by being a member.  When we talked about the reigning horse world that he is such a big part, he was talking about being able to meet great people again.  I definitely get the feeling that Lane is the type of person that everybody likes, and that is certainly going to treat him well in the future.

Lane comes from a family with a horseback tradition.  And for him, it didn't really catch until he was 8 years old.  Ironically, being from Kentucky (a great horse state) he found his passion for horses in Wyoming.  On a family vacation to the Grand Teton Mountains they took a trail ride on horseback, and something clicked for Lane.  When they got home he looked around and saw the same horses that had always been there, but now he was determined to spend his time riding them rather than just looking at them.

Since that time Lane has become a horse trainer, exhibitor and rider.  He competes all over the U.S. on reigning horses, he purchases them green, trains them and then sells them. In addition to this, he is learning the family concrete business and plans on studying business in college so that he can help both businesses grow!

SUPERVISED AGRICULTURAL EXPERIENCE: Reigning Horse Training & Sales

HIGH SCHOOL: Western Hills High School; Frankfort, Kentucky

MASCOT: Wolverines

FFA ADVISOR: Jenna Harrod

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR LANE COLSTON:

Click on the picture below to be taken to the Western Hills High School Ag. Department's website:

Lane's FFA Advisor's Email Address: jenna.harrod@franklin.kyschools.us

Western Hills High School's Telephone Number: 502-875-8400

FFA LINKS:

National FFA Organization

Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE's)

Support FFA 

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

REASONS TO DONATE TO FFA:

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

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

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue

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

  b

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1405_Lane_Colston-COMM_10_29-052922.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

INTRODUCING SAMUEL JIMENEZ!

Buckle up to learn something new in this episode.  I sure know that I did when I was conducting the interview!

Samuel Jimenez has just graduated high school, and he has just been awarded a California State Proficiency Award in Specialty Animal Production Placement.  How you ask?  By raising thousands of Koi Fish in his families business in Madera, California.

Sam's parents have a business called Mad Town Koi Fish, and she sell Koi all over the world.  In addition to the production of fish they produce a high quality manure/fertilizer for their business partner's pistachio orchard with the waste of the Koi.  Sam has been learning this business inside and out over the years, and now when a buyer is at the farm to purchase fish it is Sam who takes out the nets and catches the fish for sale.

During our interview Sam told me about a type of Koi called a "Tancho".  This is a very rare and very desirable pattern on the body of the Koi that results with a red circle on its forehead.  While Same told me that Koi will sell for $5-$7 per typical fish, a Tancho can sell for up to $25,000!  This fish business is very much like other livestock businesses.  They even have a breed organization and they compete in shows for the grand champion Koi.

I learned a ton in this interview, and you will too!

SUPERVISED AGRICULTURAL EXPERIENCE: Koi Fish Production

HIGH SCHOOL: Madera South High School; Madera, California

MASCOT: Stallions

FFA ADVISOR: Tim Deniz

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR SAMUEL JIMENEZ:

Click on the picture below to be taken to the Madera South High School Ag. Department's website:

Sam's FFA Advisor's Email Address: timdeniz@maderausd.org

Madera South High School Telephone Number:  559-675-4450

FFA LINKS:

National FFA Organization

Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE's)

Support FFA 

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

REASONS TO DONATE TO FFA:

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

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

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue

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

 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1403_Sam_Jimenez-COMM_9_20-052822.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

On tomorrow's ag business episode we are talking all about bees with a fascinating entrepreneur who has traveled the world.  I thought that a look back at this great interview with Saralynn Smith would be a great idea as she talked to us about the very beginning stages of starting her bee business.

Below are the original show notes:

SHOW NOTES

If You Want To Raise Bees, You Will Need The Right Clothing!


Introducing Saralynn Smith! 

Sara Smith is involved in one of the most ancient of agricultural enterprises, bee keeping.  Her story is kind of unique.  Instead of developing her bee hives with the purpose of harvesting honey or selling products, she and her father started them to pollinate the plants and flowers in their yard.

Soon, they had 3 hives and excess honey!  After giving honey away to people in their community, the idea of "3 B's" came up.  Sara decided to make the beekeeping her supervised agricultural experience.  Now she will be producing lip balm from her honey with all natural ingredients.

SUPERVISED AGRICULTURAL EXPERIENCE: Bee Keeping and Product Development

HIGH SCHOOL: Dinwiddie High School; Dinwiddie, Virginia

MASCOT: Generals

FFA ADVISOR: Cindy Blaha & Laurel Bishop

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR SARA SMITH:

Click on the picture below to be taken to the Dinwiddie High School Website:

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-12-06-28-pm

Sara's FFA Advisor's Email Address:   cblaha@dcpsnet.org

Dinwiddie High School Telephone Number:  (804) 469-4280

FFA LINKS:

National FFA Organization

Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE's)

Support FFA 

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

REASONS TO DONATE TO FFA:

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

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

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue

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

 


INTRODUCING EMMA ALBERS!

I like to say that if you are hitting all of your goals, you aren't setting them high enough.  Today's guest understands that completely.  Emma Albers set a goal of becoming a national proficiency finalist when she was in the 9th Grade.  She just graduated high school a couple of weeks ago, and she is on the cusp of that accomplishment.

Emma actually has three very strong supervised agricultural experiences and proficiencies - beef production, grain production and veterinary science.  It is the rules that actually held her back.   In the State of Kansas, one student can only advance to state proficiencies with a maximum of two projects.  Ironically, on Emma's farm she gets the most enjoyment out of working with the cattle.  However, her strongest two proficiencies were veterinary science and grain production, so that is what she put forth.

Later this month Emma will find out if either of her proficiencies won at the state level.  If one of them does, she will be on to compete for that national proficiency award that she decided that she wanted so many years ago!

SUPERVISED AGRICULTURAL EXPERIENCE: Beef & Grain Production Entrepreneurship, Veterinary Science Placement

HIGH SCHOOL: Doniphan West High School; Highland, Kansas

MASCOT: Mustangs

FFA ADVISOR: Hannah Adame

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR EMMA ALBERS:

Click on the picture below to be taken to the Doniphan High School Ag. Department's website:

Emma's FFA Advisor's Email Address: hadame@usd111.org

Doniphan High School Telephone Number: 785-442-3286

FFA LINKS:

National FFA Organization

Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE's)

Support FFA 

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

REASONS TO DONATE TO FFA:

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

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

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue

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

 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1399_Emma_Albers-COMM_12_44-052422.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

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

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

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

SUPERVISED AGRICULTURAL EXPERIENCE: Pontoon Boat Rentals

HIGH SCHOOL: Paynesville High School; Paynesville, Minnesota

MASCOT: Bulldogs

FFA ADVISOR: Natalie Utsch

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR BEN BUGBEE:

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

Ben's FFA Advisor's Email Address: nutsch@isd741.org 

Paynesville High School Telephone Number: 320-243-3410

FFA LINKS:

National FFA Organization

Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE's)

Support FFA 

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

REASONS TO DONATE TO FFA:

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

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

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue

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

 

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

On this show, I have said that work is not the enemy, the wrong job is the enemy, on multiple occasions.  Today's guest, Lila Wantland, probably summed that statement up better than I have ever done in our interview.  This is one thing I love about interviewing FFA students.  They learn, early on, that work can be fun and it is all just a matter of finding the right work for them.

Lila has grown up on her families dairy farm in Missouri, and she had fully embraced that life.  She milks cattle every day, and being a 99% family run operation, she has invested herself in every other aspect of the farm from the good to the bad.  She is particularly fond of taking care of the bottle calves but dreads when it is time to cull a long serving cow.

Her family primarily milks Holstein cattle on their dairy, but over the years she became interested in other breeds of dairy cattle.  So, she found herself purchasing her own Guernsey, Jersey and Brown Swiss cows and putting them into the milking herd.  Lila finds herself very interested in all the different breeds as well as the different personalities that each of them has.

In our interview I asked Lila if she was interested in returning to her families dairy at some point in the future.  While she is heading off to get an animal science degree at Oklahoma State University next year, returning to the dairy is not what she sees in her future.  I really admired this in her answer, as she has already figured out that even though the family dairy is the basis of her love for livestock and farming, she needs to find the path that she is meant to be on to find satisfaction in her daily work.

SUPERVISED AGRICULTURAL EXPERIENCE: Dairy Production

HIGH SCHOOL: Niangua High School; Niangua, Missouri

MASCOT: Cardinals

FFA ADVISOR: Cody Starnes

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR LILA WANTLAND:

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

Lila's FFA Advisor's Email Address: cstarnes@nianguaschools.com

NianguaHigh School Telephone Number: (417)473-6101

FFA LINKS:

National FFA Organization

Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE's)

Support FFA 

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

REASONS TO DONATE TO FFA:

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

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

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue

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

 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1393_Lila_Wantland-COMM_8_43-051622.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

I've said it before, and I will say it again - I really enjoy interviewing FFA student entrepreneurs because they are not encumbered by fear and other responsibilities that frequently stop adults like myself from exploring business ideas.  With this fear being absent, these students go try ideas, and in many cases they discover businesses that work and are replicable by adults.  In this way, these high school students are actually the leaders for adults, if adults are willing to look at what they have done and follow the example.

My guest today, Ethan Kneisler, is a perfect example of this.  Ethan is just finishing up his junior year of high school and lives in a farming community in Kansas.  He and his father came up with the idea of him starting a bale wrapping business in their area because they saw problems that they could solve on their own farm with this practice and then saw that others in their community had the same problems.  Namely, the need to produce more forage on a small acreage that would allow for the feeding of all the farm's livestock.  This led them to experimenting with different forage crops and balage, and it has worked out very well.

Ethan is just going into his second season of operating "Jimmy's Custom Wrapping".  Through this business he is convincing people in his area of the ability to raise different forage crops and to have them wrapped.  There are a lot of positives to this method, and Ethan is making it pay for his customers.

In listening to the arguments that Ethan has to overcome when convincing farmers to give this a try, I can hear a lot of reasons that an adult, with more to lose than Ethan, might dismiss this business and not start.  However, if an adult is willing to look at the example being set by a high school student like Ethan and trust what they are seeing, they can identify a very viable business idea for the region in which they live!

SUPERVISED AGRICULTURAL EXPERIENCE: Custom Bale Wrapping

HIGH SCHOOL: Lyndon High School; Lyndon, Kansas

MASCOT: Tigers

FFA ADVISOR: Tim Kilgore

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR ETHAN KNEISLER:

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

Ethan's FFA Advisor's Email Address: kilgoret@usd421.org 

Lyndon High School Telephone Number: 785-828-4413

FFA LINKS:

National FFA Organization

Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE's)

Support FFA 

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

REASONS TO DONATE TO FFA:

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

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

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue

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

 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1391_Ethan_Kneisler-COMM_1312-051422.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Tomorrow on the show I am featuring an entrepreneur who is helping to teach children about agriculture.  This reminded me of the great interview I did with Katie Benson about her efforts to do the same, and I wanted to bring that episode back for you today.  Below are the original show notes for this episode.

SHOW NOTES

Introducing Katie Benson! 

Katie has a different supervised agricultural experience than we normally profile.  However, I had to have her on.  She is doing a lot to advocate for agricuture.

Katie's SAE is "ag education."  She is teaching all the third graders in her school district about agriculture.  She has done a number of things including dispelling myths about agriculture and making products, such as butter.

Katie has had multiple students tell her that they want to join both 4H and FFA after they are done with one of her lessons.  She plans on continuing her education after high school and becoming an agricultural education teacher and FFA advisors.

SUPERVISED AGRICULTURAL EXPERIENCE: Agricultural Education

HIGH SCHOOL: Staples Motley High School; Staples, Minnesota

MASCOT: Cardinals

FFA ADVISOR: Kerry Lindgren & Brian Schornack

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR KATIE BENSON:

Click on the picture below to be taken to the Staples Motley High School Website:

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 11.44.15 AM

Katie's FFA Advisor's Email Address:  klindgren@isd2170.k12.mn.us

Staples Motley High School Telephone Number:  218-894-5400

 

FFA LINKS:

National FFA Organization

Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE's)

Support FFA 

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

REASONS TO DONATE TO FFA:

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

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

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue

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

 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1388-Replay_Of_138-COMM_4_17-041022.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

I first discovered Sam Martin through an article that mentioned he and his families anhydrous ammonia business, Martin Custom Anhydrous, and that is what led me to invite him to be a guest on the show.  However, I wound up getting a lot more than I bargained for with this guest.

Sam is a former chapter president, former Iowa State Vice-President and current Iowa State President.  He just obtained that lofty title in April of this year.  In addition to that, he is operating multiple supervised agricultural experiences including a cattle business, a sweet corn business and of course the family business of custom applying anhydrous ammonia all over Southwest Iowa.

Sam and his family are the epitome of the farm families that I strive to profile on this show.  They are on farm ground that goes multiple generations deep, and they are always looking for a way to continue the legacy.  This is what led to them starting Martin Custom Anhydrous.  They took equipment that they already had and used it to serve farmers in their area, filling a need that existed.  They took the fact that their farm was smaller than others and turned that into a competitive advantage.  When many farmers were burnt out from being in the tractor more than them during they year, from farming more acres, they could step in and inject anhydrous ammonia for the farmers who didn't want to see the inside of a tractor again until spring.  It worked out great, and their business has really taken off.

At the same time, the business is providing a way for Sam and his siblings to generate additional revenue to support the family farming operation and it creates an opportunity for each of them to return to the farm.  At the same time, Sam's mother, Sarah, is teaching agriculture at Shenandoah Community High School and brining in off-farm income in that manner.

It is a very interesting story.  So much so that the length of my interview with Sam is about twice as long as a normal FFA interview.

SUPERVISED AGRICULTURAL EXPERIENCE: Beef Production, Custom Fertilizer Application, Sweet Corn Sales

HIGH SCHOOL: Shenandoah Community High School; Shenandoah, Iowa

MASCOT: Mustangs

FFA ADVISOR: Sarah Martin

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR SAM MARTIN:

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

Sam's FFA Advisor's Email Address: martinsf@shenandoah.k12.ia.us 

Shenandoah Community High School Telephone Number: 712-246-1581

FFA LINKS:

National FFA Organization

Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE's)

Support FFA 

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

REASONS TO DONATE TO FFA:

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

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

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue

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

 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1387_Sam_Martin_COMM-15_49-051422.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

In the world of entrepreneurship people love to throw the term, "passion" around as if that is all you need to make it.  I certainly is not the only thing you need, but it definitely helps.  Today's guest has exactly that, and it comes shining through when you speak to her.

Grace Brown is fresh off of finding out that she is a state proficiency winner in diversified livestock production in Illinois.  She is already filling out an application to compete at the national level.  Speaking with her for just a couple of moments, and there is no question how she achieved this accomplishment.

Grace is raising cattle with her brothers in a business they named, "B4 Shorthorns".  In addition to raising cattle, she raises broilers during the summer, market goats and show goats for sale.  And, she describes all the different aspects of her businesses as "fun".  That is how I know it is her passion.  For example, Grace talked about what went on during Covid in the chicken business, and how she and her family had more customers than ever before.  She thought this was a blast!

If that were not enough, Grace has an after school job milking cattle on a nearby dairy.  Currently she milks over 130 head each evening after school and on the weekends when needed.  She is is heading off to college next fall to start studying animal science with the hopes of becoming a veterinarian.  Grace is definitely a student to keep our eyes on!

SUPERVISED AGRICULTURAL EXPERIENCE: Diversified Livestock Production

HIGH SCHOOL: Flanagan - Cornell High School; Flanagan, Illinois

MASCOT: Falcons

FFA ADVISOR: Jessica Collins

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR GRACE BROWN:

Click on the picture below to be taken to the Flanagan - Cornell High School Ag. Department's website:

Grace's FFA Advisor's Email Address: jcollins@fc74.org

Flanagan - Cornell High School's Telephone Number: 815/796-2291

FFA LINKS:

National FFA Organization

Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE's)

Support FFA 

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

REASONS TO DONATE TO FFA:

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

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

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue

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

 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1385_Grace_Brown-COMM_10_32-050722.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

"The FFA and agriculture is a very welcoming culture.  You just have to put yourself out there, and you will be accepted".  These are the words of the very wise FFA student who is today's featured guest, Kendall Lawson.

Kendall is a senior who will be graduating within about a month of this episode's release.  She loves to watch plants grow the same way that I like to watch cattle graze.  And, this inner voice has led her in the direction of a successful supervised agricultural experience and business called "Kendall's Creations".

Kendall originally began this project by growing succulents, but she moved on to "air plants" in terrariums.  At a church bazaar she found that people were interested in purchasing them and supporting what she was doing.  Soon, she was selling them to family and friends and eventually this led her to selling them to perfect strangers and using social media for marketing.  This final transition is one that is indicative of a real business with real value.

In today's interview Kendall offers some real pearls of wisdom including following her inner voice, pivoting her business model and how she is choosing a career that matches the lifestyle that she wants to live, irregardless of how much money she makes.  Kendall is a definite role model, and it is my pleasure to be able to capture the wisdom that she has to share.

SUPERVISED AGRICULTURAL EXPERIENCE: Kendall's Creations

HIGH SCHOOL: Yelm High School; Yelm, Washington

MASCOT: Tornado's

FFA ADVISOR: Austin Baker

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR KENDALL LAWSON:

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

Kendall's FFA Advisor's Email Address: austin_baker@ycs.wednet.edu

Yelm High School Telephone Number: 360.458.7777

FFA LINKS:

National FFA Organization

Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE's)

Support FFA 

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

REASONS TO DONATE TO FFA:

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

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

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue

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

 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1381_Kendall_Lawson-COMM-15_38-042822.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today's guest, Remi Gardner, is the second student from the Paris FFA Chapter that I have interviewed in as many days.  I find myself just as impressed today as I was with my first interview of a Paris FFA student, both working in the world of cattle production.  Obviously, I am going to have to get myself to Henry County sooner, rather than later to see what is going on in the beef industry down there!

Remi is just finishing up her freshman year, and she is accomplishing a ton already.  She has already been named a regional proficiency winner for her supervised agricultural experience and has ever intention to continuing to compete for proficiencies.  She has a very unique experience of not coming from a farming family, but finding placement as an employee on a farm.  In this way she really is a great example of how FFA students from in town can still find the livestock or crop experience that they want.

Remi named her own episode today.  As a matter of fact, she had a couple of lines at the very end of the show that I had to write down and preserve.  I like to ask students what they would tell somebody about agriculture if they had just two minutes to pass along some information.  Without hesitation, Remi fired way with "Agriculture is not boring!".  I thought that was great and should be the title of her episode.  However, she continued explaining and really uncovered a nugget of wisdom by saying "you just have to put in the work and agriculture will provide an opportunity for you".

Especially with that second quote, I thought Remi provided wisdom well beyond her years.  I am looking forward to following her FFA journey and seeing where she takes this!

SUPERVISED AGRICULTURAL EXPERIENCE:  Beef Production

HIGH SCHOOL: E.W. Grove High School; Paris, Tennessee

MASCOT: Patriots

FFA ADVISOR: Laura Moss

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR REMI GARDNER:

Click on the picture below to be taken to the E.W. Grove High School website:

Remi's FFA Advisor's Email Address: mossl@henryk12.net

E.W. High School Telephone Number: (731) 642-9733

FFA LINKS:

National FFA Organization

Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE's)

Support FFA 

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

REASONS TO DONATE TO FFA:

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

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

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue

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

 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1379_Remi_Gardner-COMM-6_12-042622.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today's guest is a self-professed "showmanship freak".  Showing livestock in jackpot shows and fairs is Pacee Miller's "thing".  She talks about getting everything perfect and striving to be the best in the ring, and this has come true for her on more than one occasion.

Pacee is a young lady who has a passion for agriculture, and more specifically, cattle.  As soon as she finishes up school for the day she heads to a local dairy farm where she feeds bottle calves every evening as an after school job.  When she finishes up there, she heads to one of two locations of her families farm to help her father with their herd of beef cattle.  Currently they are breeding cattle through artificial insemination.  They run several different lines of show cattle, and Pacee helps to synchronize all of their estrus cycles so they can all be bred simultaneously.  She is hoping to earn her AI certification through the FFA next year.

Once the work is done at that location, Pacee heads home where she keeps the livestock that she will be showing during the current or upcoming show season.  She has a few head of cattle there that she has chosen to take into the ring.  She also keeps two goats and two pigs that she will also show.

Hearing about all of her experience with cattle, you might think that beef is where it all started for Pacee.  However, in the interview she tells us that she actually began her showing career with one pig.  It has all built from that first animal.  Pacee is currently ranked in the top four proficiencies for beef entrepreneurship in the State of Ohio.  She will find out on May 5th, if she wins state!

SUPERVISED AGRICULTURAL EXPERIENCE: Beef Production

HIGH SCHOOL: West Holmes High School; Millersburg, Ohio

MASCOT: Knights

FFA ADVISOR: Jaime Chenevey

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR PACEE MILLER:

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

Pacee's FFA Advisor's Email Address: jchenevey@westholmes.org

West Holmes High School Telephone Number: (330) 674-6085

FFA LINKS:

National FFA Organization

Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE's)

Support FFA 

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

REASONS TO DONATE TO FFA:

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

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

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue

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

 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1375_Pacee_Miller-COMM_12_41-042322.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

I don't make too many predictions on this show, but every now and then I interview an FFA student and can see that all the ingredients for great success are present.  Today's interview with Caden Delaney is one of those moments.

I first found out about Caden through an article stating that he had won a regional proficiency award in forage production.  This interested me, as I have seen a lot of great entrepreneurship SAE's start this way and lead to a custom haying business, etc.  I reached out to Caden's FFA advisor and requested an interview.  They accepted and then signed up, filling out the form that I send to all guests on the show.

As I was prepping for the interview I saw that Caden was just in the 9th grade!  I immediately wondered if this was a typo, as I am not used to seeing 9th graders achieve at the level of winning proficiency awards.  Caden's grade in school was one of the first things that I confirmed with him prior to beginning the interview.  As we started talking about his project and agricultural background, it became apparent that Caden was sophisticated well beyond his grade level.

As he explained the selection of the Shorthorn breed of cattle that he raises with his sister it all became clear.  Caden told me that phenotypically the Shorthorn cows that he has look sound for breeding, but he uses an Angus bull with a low birth weight EPD on the first calf heifers because the Shorthorns that he has don't rank as well as he would like in calving ease.  My mind was blown!  This was information that I did not learn until well into college, and the sophistication of knowledge that Caden had just kept pouring forth.

I asked Caden how he had learned all of this already, and it was apparent that he has such a love for cattle and agriculture that he is consuming as much information as he possibly can.  This, in combination with being able to go out to his own cattle and apply the book knowledge that he had been reading about, really has him functioning at a very high level as a 9th grader, when you would just be expecting him to just be getting his feet wet.

It is still very early in Caden's FFA career, and he will choose the path that is correct for him.  However, I believe that if he continues to demonstrate this kind of passion for his SAE's, and he continues to compete for proficiency awards that he has an excellent chance of being an American Star Finalist and even the American Star Farmer in five or six years!

SUPERVISED AGRICULTURAL EXPERIENCE: Forage Production

HIGH SCHOOL: E.W. Grove High School; Paris, Tennessee

MASCOT: Patriots

FFA ADVISOR: Laura Moss

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR CADEN DELANEY:

Click on the picture below to be taken to the E.W. Grove High School website:

Caden's FFA Advisor's Email Address: mossl@henryk12.net

E.W. High School Telephone Number: (731) 642-9733

FFA LINKS:

National FFA Organization

Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE's)

Support FFA 

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

REASONS TO DONATE TO FFA:

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

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

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue

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

 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1373_Caden_Delaney-COMM_14_04-042122.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

For the first time ever, completely by accident, I am releasing an interview on the guests actual birthday!  Happy 18th Birthday to Gracie Wagner!

Now that we have got that out of the way, let's talk horses, agriculture and FFA.  Gracie has grown up in what could accurately be called a "horse family" in the Central Illinois area.  She has been around and on horses for her whole life, and that has led her in many, positive directions.

When Gracie was starting high school, this led her right into the FFA.  Her older sister had been part of the FFA, and Gracie knew she could find her people in the FFA as well.  However, it was not something that she was sure would work out at first, it was just something that she was "trying out".  She existed in her chapter for her entire 9th grade year, using a borrowed blue jacket.  However, she got involved in some leadership development activities, namely Conduct Of Chapter Meetings, and the intensity and team atmosphere hooked her.  By the time she hit her 10th Grad year she was fired up.

Gracie has served on her chapter's officer team for all four years, but it was her 11th grade year when she became her chapter's reporter in which that really clicked.  She loved taking the photos, writing the media releases and communicating on behalf of her chapter so much, that when she ran for an officer position for her 12th grade year, the only one that she applied for was reporter.  Gracie found herself being named one of the top 10 FFA chapter reporters in the State Of Illinois in 2021, and she is hoping to repeat that this year!

Gracie knows where she is headed after graduation.  She is off to Central Arizona College in Coolidge, Arizona where she will be competing in college rodeo.  She hopes to compete for all four years and then, who knows!

SUPERVISED AGRICULTURAL EXPERIENCE: Equine Entrepreneurship

HIGH SCHOOL: Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School; Paxton, Illinois

MASCOT: Panthers

FFA ADVISOR: Mike White

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR GRACIE WAGNER:

Click on the picture below to be taken to the Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School website:

Gracie's FFA Advisor's Email Address: mwhite@pblpanthers.org

Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School Telephone Number: 217-379-4331

FFA LINKS:

National FFA Organization

Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE's)

Support FFA 

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

REASONS TO DONATE TO FFA:

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

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

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue

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

 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1369_Gracie_Wagner-COMM_9_38-042022.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

If you are going to have calves in January, in Michigan, in the Upper Peninsula, you had better have to barn space.  But, what if you have twins!  Well, that is what happened to today's guest, Mitchell Foote, this winter.

Mitchell is a sophomore at Ubly High School and in his fourth year of the FFA.  Each year he shows cattle and pigs at the county fair as part of his supervised agricultural experience.  His older brother is also in his chapter, as the chapter's president.  Some time back, they decided that they would like to show their own cattle that were born on their farm.  So, they adjusted their calving season to start in January, so they would have calves that were old enough to be weaned prior to their fair in August and that would make weight for the "prospect" class of cattle that can be show there.

These are great goals, but they also come with their own challenges as winters in Michigan can be brutal.  For this reason, the cows that are calving are kept in the barn and then the calves are kept out of the weather indoors with their mothers for a month or more.  However, as Mitchell and his brother grow the herd, space inside the barn comes at a premium, and this year they had a set of twins!  They are making the best of it though, trying to get some of the mud in the farm yard scraped up so that they can get some of the cows with older calves out of the barn!

Mitchell is active.  In addition to his new officer responsibility as the "student advisor" in his chapter, he is playing two sports: football and basketball.  His school is having a lot of success in both sports, and he is having a great time playing varsity already!  If that were not enough, Mitchell has already earned three proficiency awards at the state level: one gold and two silver.

SUPERVISED AGRICULTURAL EXPERIENCE: Diversified Livestock Production

HIGH SCHOOL: Ubly High School; Ubly, Michigan

MASCOT: Bearcats

FFA ADVISOR: Melissa Kramer

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR MITCHELL FOOTE:

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

Mitchell's FFA Advisor's Email Address: mkramer@ublyschools.org

Ubly High School Telephone Number: 989-658-8202

FFA LINKS:

National FFA Organization

Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE's)

Support FFA 

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

REASONS TO DONATE TO FFA:

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

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

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue

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

 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1367_Mitchell_Foote-COMM_9_27-041622.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

It's always fun to showcase FFA students that have done amazing things and have been able to take talents and passions and turn them into viable SAE's. Today's guest did just that. This is a replay of an interview I did with a very special welding artist. Learn more about Maci Krites and her "weld art" on this episode.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1364-Replay_of_Episode_236_COMM_6_31-033122_2.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

This summer, my family and I will grow a large patch of sweet corn.  This is something that we have done several times over the years.  And, if you were to ask me when we would be getting started, I would tell you that it would be sometime in May.  And by my answer, it shows how I view getting started, and in a lot of ways, what type of farmer I am....or at least where I have room for improvement.

This dawned on me in my interview with Lydia Whaley today.  Without even learning about Lydia's supervised agricultural experience you can already see that she is an all-star.  She has responsibilities on her families cattle ranch in Missouri and is very active there, and she has already served as her chapter's vice-president and is just beginning a term as her area's president.  By the time I got to learn about her SAE, I already knew she was exceptional.

However, when I asked Lydia about growing 4-5 acres of pumpkins each year I really got a glimpse into the way that she thinks and an indication of why she is seeing such success.  Lydia doesn't plant her pumpkins until June, but when she tells you about her project she states that she gets started in January or February, which is obviously the middle of winter.

Lydia's project begins with the selection of seed and pumpkin varieties that she will be growing during the next season.  She looks at her project much more holistically than I do my corn patch.  Lydia realizes that her customers are voting for their favorite pumpkin varieties each and every time they select one from her honor system, road side stand.  So, starting in January, she assesses which were the most popular varieties of pumpkins she sold the previous fall and begins making decisions about what she will be planting in June.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1363_Lydia_Whaley-COMM_12_10-040922.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

As you all know I am a fan of the lawn care and landscaping business.  I have seen students in high school do some amazing things with this particular business, working it all the way up to a six figure annual income while still in high school!  In my own experience, I know a full-time farmer who as able to become this by starting a landscaping business during college, building it up and then selling it and using the proceeds to purchase his farm.

It might seem like that those are all the positives of this business, but wait....there is more.  This "future millionaire maker" business can be started with no money!  I have interviewed several students, including today's guest, Jack Frank, who have started their lawn care business using the equipment that their customers own.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1361_Jack_Frank-COMM_8_35-040722.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Our guest today had a couple things to say during the interview that really resonated with me. To begin, Riley Widboom, was starting over when he entered his freshman year at Worthington High School.  He had gone from Kindergarten to 8th Grade in a small, private school, so his friends at Worthington were limited at best.  However, he knew that the FFA would fix all of that.  Plus, Riley had been interested in and involved in agriculture his whole life from growing up on a farm and participating in the 4H.

Later in the interview Riley told me that if he could tell a non-agricultural person just one thing about ag, it would be that agriculture is is for everyone.  There is a place for every person in the world of ag.  This really struck me as well because, well, because it is true, and because this is the way that Riley lives his life.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1357_Riley_Widboom_COMM-15_39-032622.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

I am definitely the type of person who is interested in my family history and feels some sense of obligation to honor that legacy.  So, I am always fascinated when I get to interview somebody with a deep family legacy who is honoring it in the same way.  For our guest today, Kate Rogers, that is a theme that repeats itself throughout the interview.

One of Kate's strongest influences in her love agriculture is her great grandmother, who was raised during the Great Depression, and found many ways to produce good to help generate income during that time.  One of the talents that she had, that Kate also has, is in creating artistic items that have value to other people.  This is something that Kate has carried forward, with many of the supplies that belonged to her great grandmother, in her business, Kate Rogers Art.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1355_Kate_Rogers-COMM_10_00-032622.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

FFA students are some of the busiest people I have ever encountered, but today's guest may take the record.  Look at this list of activities:

  • Marching Band
  • Weight Lifting
  • Podcasting
  • Farm Broadcasting
  • Making & Selling Cotton Candy
  • Playing Guitar
  • Playing Bass
  • Playing Wizardry Card Games
  • School Theater

And, I am sure if I had longer to interview Jesse Cech the list would just keep growing and growing.  This young man is not only involved in a myriad of activities, but he knows a lot about each one.  I found out right before our interview that he had his own podcast, and then during the interview I found out that he took 2nd in a farm broadcasting LDE in South Dakota in 2020.  It was the FFA that introduced him to broadcasting, and now he has future plans to pursue a career in broadcasting or voice acting.  I love profiling stories like this!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1351_Jesse_Cech-COMM_10_51.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

There are so many good things that come out of the FFA, they are hard to count and definitely too numerous to list in one podcast post.  So, in today's post I will focus on the SAE grants that are available to students.  I judged applications for these grants for a number of years, and I can tell you that there is a lot of talent out there.  I can also tell you that there are a lot of students not attempting to receive this free money.  This is precisely why I admire the students that do pursue these grants so much.  It demonstrates that they and their FFA advisors are very forward thinking.

Charleigh Dugger is one of these forward thinking students.  She is just finishing up her sophomore year of high school, but she has already applied for and received a $1,000 SAE grant provided by AmerisourceBergen.  Charleigh is using this money to expand her goat herd, built winter shelter for them and start a cattle herd of Scottish Highlander cows for herself.  She is hoping that this will propel her towards her dream of working with animals as a career.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1349-Charleigh_Dugger-COMM_3_35-031822.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

My attention was first drawn to Alex Kellersmith when I read an article about him making maple syrup for his supervised agricultural experience in the FFA.  I am always fascinated with this particular SAE because naturally growing trees provide one of the most delicious products on the market.  And, I live in Idaho where this is impossible and you pay a premium for Maple Syrup in a bottle!

As it turns out, Alex has several supervised agricultural experiences.  He likes to grow things that he can either sell directly from harvest or add value to and then sell.  And they all have a common thread....there is the slow pace of the growing season for each of them, and then suddenly, there is a lot of work to be done all at once.  Take these projects for example:

  • Maple Syrup - sap drips into buckets during the winter and is saved up, and then suddenly there is two straight weeks of boiling down sap and bottling syrup
  • Sweet Corn - during the heat of summer the corn grows and grows, and then suddenly there is two straight weeks of picking, hauling, marketing and selling
  • Berries - they grow all summer long and then suddenly they are ripe and the time is now!
  • Lavender & Flowers - okay, on this one Alex can work out a little bit more even of a pace, but of course once the flowers are blooming he can constantly be harvesting, arranging and selling

Alex has some very good advice for incoming FFA students in this interview as to why they should really invest into multiple SAE's.  Tune in and hear what he has to say!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1345_Alex_Kellersmith-COMM_16_39-031822.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

I am a big fan of proactive people, people who go out and make life happen for them rather than letting life happen to them.  Our guest today, Ellas Gaes, is definitely one of those people.  Ella is a member of the Pierce High School FFA Chapter in Pierce, Nebraska.  She lives out of town with her family, and they keep horses on their property.

Even though the horse was the main form of transportation throughout Europe and Asia well before North America was ever discovered, the American West has captured the horse as its symbol, almost as if horse riding originated here.  Ella embraces this culture, roping whenever and wherever she can and helping her family members in Colorado every May with their cattle branding.

Ella also embraced this with her supervised agricultural experience through the FFA.  She has been making jewelry as a hobby for quite some time, and the way that things work in her FFA chapter, she was compelled to get serious about her SAE this year.  Once she really thought about what she was going to do, it became apparent to her that making and selling jewelry that celebrated the Western way of life and the West's ties to agriculture was the right fit for her.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1343_Ella_Gaes-COMM_6_13-022722.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

There is a lot of fruit to pick (pun intended) from today's interview with Jada Rubalcava, and I picked the one that stood out the most to me for the title of this episode.

Jada has a unique set of experiences compared to the other students at Gothenburg High School and in her FFA chapter.  When she was in elementary school her father joined the military while pursuing a career as an anesthesiologist.  This caused Jada and her family to move from her childhood home of Phoenix, Arizona to several other cities and ultimately the small town of Gothenburg.  So, Jada has seen big city life, and she has seen small town life.

Jada is of the opinion that she has many more opportunities being in a small town and small school, which is not the way a lot of people look at this comparison.  However, whichever extra-curricular activity that she wants to participate in she has been able to.  This has to do with the size of her school and the fact that there are not so many students going out for a particular activity that people have to be cut.  Jada used golf as an example. She joined the golf team her freshman year, and when she joined she had never held a club before.  She correctly states that if she were still in Phoenix, she could never make the team under these circumstances and would have missed this particular opportunity.

Another opportunity that Jada has taken full advantage of is the sense of community in her small town and the way that the town respects and supports the FFA.  Based on an idea of some of her friends that she knew when living in Ohio, when it came time for her to being her supervised agricultural experience she decided to make and sell caramel apples.  When people caught wind of what she was doing, word spread like wildfire.  Soon, she was very busy and was even shipping her caramel apples to people.

 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1339_Jada_Rubalcava-COMM_10_37-030222.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Our guest today is currently serving as the State FFA Reporter in Illinois.  Lauren Mohr grew up in Illinois with a strong legacy of farming and the FFA in her family.  In addition to watching her older brothers in their projects, she was working at home with the families sheep flock as well as their business of lambing out ewes for other owners.  Over time she developed a love for the animal livestock industry, and it led her to leadership in the FFA.

Lauren just graduated from Normal West High School last spring.  She is currently taking a gap year to serve as the state reporter and plans on attending Illinois Central College to study animal science and agricultural business next fall.  She has her eye on embryo transfers and reproduction in livestock as a career and has already identified a business that she would like to conduct an internship with.

Lauren is involved in and developing a few different ag businesses currently.  In the summer she shows dairy cattle for her grandparents, and the rest of the time she is developing her herd of cattle and maintaining her flock of sheep.  Lauren has traveled as far away as Massachusetts to market wool and learn more about the wool and sheep industry.  It is no wonder that she has been a state proficiency winner in both sheep production and diversified livestock.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1337-Lauren_Mohr-COMM_11_04-022622.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today is a replay that I think you will enjoy very much. It is the story of a remarkable young man who was injured and worked hard to not only come back fully healed but better than ever. He is giving back to the industry he was injured in as a volunteer fire fighter  all while serving as a missionary and running a custom haying operation with his brother. 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1334_Recap_of_Episode_669-COMM_20_33_2.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today's interview teaches us a lot of different lessons about entrepreneurship, and our guest is just 15 years old. Trever Montgomery has grown up loving to fish.  Years ago, he had the thought that he might one day make his own "soft plastic" fishing baits.  Like so many ideas, it came into his head, never left but got put on a back shelf somewhere waiting to be pulled off at some point in the future.

In 2020 Trever started high school, and with that he also started the FFA.  His advisor let him know that he would need to have a supervised agricultural experience and explained what the options were.  It was in that instance that he knew the time had come, and he was going to start making his own baits as an entrepreneurship SAE.

Trever started researching right away, and with in a couple of months he was creating his very own prototypes.  He first began by purchasing a bait making kit from one company and learning the process.  Soon, he knew how to make them, but he was noticing flaws.  So, he purchased a kit from another company.  He had the same experience again, seeing room for improvement in the baits that he produced with their recipe.  It was at this point that Trever started taking the aspects of one companies baits that he liked and combining it with the aspects of another's that he liked in order to make a bait that was superior to both of the originals.  TM Baits was born.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1333-Trever_Montgomery-COMM_6_58-022622.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Our guest today is just finishing up his sophomore year of high school, but the progress he has made in building his cow herd since beginning it during his freshman year is phenomenal.  Stetson Shook is from a family with a deep farming background in Oklahoma and Kansas, going back to the Oklahoma Land Rush.  His grandparents still farm the family ground in Oklahoma about 45 minutes away from the farm that Stetson and his parents live on.

Stetson has always had a passion for farming and agriculture, and this led him to know that he would one day be an FFA member.  Then, at the end of his 8th grade year of school he was asked if he would be interested in becoming a Green Hand Officer, and he volunteered.  This really piqued his interest in the FFA, and early in his freshman year of high school his FFA advisors saw something in him and encouraged him to take up a cattle business for his supervised agricultural experience.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1331_Stetson_Shook-_COMM6_17-021022_1.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

There is no question that if you make delicious cookies and cupcakes that you have the ingredients for a business.  Who can deny treats like that?  However, how does anyone ever find out that you have the ability to make these items and sell them?  Social media is one really capable platform to make this happen.

This is exactly what took place in the formation of Madi Springer's business, Madi's Cookies & Cupcakes.  Madi has been baking for years, and right around the beginning of her freshman year of high school she made some decorative cookies for her mom, and her mom promptly bragged about them on her Facebook page.  this led to another mom in their small community of Franklin, Illinois to contact Madi and see if she could bake four dozen pumpkin themed cookies for the high school cross country team.

Madi agreed and made the cookies.  Her first ever customer was very pleased and bragged about her on social media, and the orders started rolling in.  Today, just 1.5 years later, Madi is fulfilling 3-4 orders per week and turning away customers.  She is planning on becoming more efficient, improving her equipment and expanding her business to cakes as well as cookies and cupcakes.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1327_Madi_Springer-COMM_6_28-021922.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today is my final interview of a long list of very impressive national proficiency finalists and winners.  I couldn't think of a better or more inspirational interview to wrap this up with.  To begin, Ty Williams is a national proficiency winner in the category of "small animal care and production".  He has grown up on and lives on his families cattle ranch in Dawson, Texas, but he also has a passion for raising rabbits and what he believes they can do for the world.  He has a big vision, and it is no wonder why he was named as a national winner.

Ty is now a freshman at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, and he is studying to be an agriculture teacher.  I am excited for every student that he is going to mentor in his career because when you get him started talking about his passions in agriculture it is contagious!

Ty believes that rabbits could be one of the solutions to world hunger.  They are small, easy to raise, reproduce quickly and are an excellent source of high quality protein.  On a very small footprint, just like raising chickens, a person can raise rabbits and feed themselves, their family and quite possibly friends and neighbors. Ty travels all over the State of Texas showing rabbits and spreading this message.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1325_Ty_Williams-COMM_10_32-021322.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today I bring to you a replay of an interview I did with an FFA member who is working hard to keep his 100-year family farm operating. They specialize in vegetable roadside stands. This is a fun interview you don't want to miss!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1322_Recap_Of_Episode_229-COMM_5_25-02142.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

I can remember taking genetics in my senior year of college with my friends Tyler and Becky.  I had changed the emphasis on my animal science major a couple of times, and genetics was the last, really difficult class I was going to have to take in order to graduate.  All semester long I paid close attention to the lecture, took tons of notes and studied nightly to try and keep up.  Meanwhile, my friend Becky didn't take notes, sat there listening with a smile on her face and aced the class while I squeaked by with a C- and a 29% in the class.  Thank goodness for the curve!

My interview today features a National Proficiency Finalist from 2021.  Zach Schoelerman has grown up on my families ranch in Northern Iowa, and he has been working with cattle and sheep his entire life.  All of his family were in the FFA, and his father is a veterinarian.  As such, Zach has become very involved in the management of his own flock of Southdown Sheep, including artificially inseminating them.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1321_Zach_Schoelerman-COMM_BREAK_8_02-012722.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

nly in the FFA will you find students who will go out and purchase themselves a bulldozer or a track hoe rather than a pickup when they turn sixteen.  It is part of what I love about interviewing these students.  These young men and women are so forward thinking and responsible that it makes me look back on my time in high school and blush with embarrassment.

This is exactly the story of Kale Campbell, who now runs his own business, Campbell Excavation, and was a National Proficiency Finalist in 2021.  He made that decision.  Actually, he purchased the track hoe instead of the pickup, and about three months later he purchased the bulldozer. Then he started his own excavation business under the umbrella of his father's business because he was still sixteen years old.  As soon as he turned eighteen and could qualify for the insurance needed to bid government excavation jobs, he went out on his own.  There is no wonder that the judges who heard his story pushed him right up to the level of national finalist!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1319_Clae_Campbell-COMM_BREAK_6_43-012722.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Our guest today, Chris Dible, was a National Proficiency Finalist in 2021, and it is not hard to figure out why.  He understands all the inner workings of his families farm and has a passion for what he does there.  As he was telling me his story, there was an irony that really made me chuckle.  Chris was not allowed to drive tractor on his own until he about 13 years old.  His dad and uncles restrained him from that until they were certain that he was ready as they needed to protect the large, capital investments they had in their equipment.

About one year after Chris was finally allowed to start driving some of the smaller tractors on his own, his dad and uncles purchased a brand new tractor for around $200K, and it came with a ton of technology including full auto-steer and GPS.  Even after 8 hours with the dealership representative instructing them on how to use the technology they didn't get it.  Once he left, Chris climbed into the tractor and the owners manuals and started figuring out how to operate their very most expensive piece of equipment.  It wasn't long until the kid that was only recently allowed to operate the smaller tractors became the only one on the farm that could operate the newest tractor!  I found that comically ironic!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1315_Chris_Dible-REVISED-COMM_BREAK13_19-012522.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 11:15am MDT

Kylie was a National Proficiency Finalist in 2021 in the category of Fiber & Oil Crop Production.  There is no question why the judges thought she belonged in that top four after hearing her story.  Kylie has been riding around with her parents in the cab of tractors and combines since she was very little.  As she grew up she started getting responsibilities of her own like routine maintenance on equipment, sweeping up, etc.  This progressed to helping with planting, doing some field work and driving some equipment.

Kylie always had her eye on one goal though - driving the combine.  She has known this is where she belonged since she was that little kid riding in the cab with her parents.  As it turned out, when she was coming of age her parents purchased a second combine and needed a driver.  Her older brother was living and working in Oklahoma, so he was out.  That left Kylie's older sister, who had been pulling the grain cart for several years.  However, she enjoyed that particular tractor and that job, so she ceded the role of combine driver to Kylie, and she found her self in the cab by herself for the first time ever.

Today, Kylie is studying agricultural education and agronomy at Kansas State University.  She is still determining what her future career will be.  However, when you talk with her the love of farming comes shining through, and there is no doubt what the judges saw that led her to being a finalist.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1313-Kylie_March-COMM_BREAK_8_28_TO_8_30-012122.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

National Proficiency Winner, Tad Nelson.  Tad's story began in the 6th grade, but it has a twist.  He started his lawn and landscape business with his best friend, and they stayed friends and business partners throughout the entire run of the business until they recently sold it.  And, they are not related but had the same last name.  So, it was easy to name the business, "Nelson Mow & Trim".

Tad and his buddy Brigham got really serious about this business in the 8th Grade, after they had had two years of experience under their belt.  They took out a loan, purchased a used but very high quality Walker Mower and started marketing their business more aggressively.  Soon, they were hiring employees, doing jobs in nearby cities that were much bigger than their hometown and really learning about business.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1309_Tad_Nelson-COMM_BREAK_11_50_TO_11_52-011922.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Porter Hanson has grown up on a 50 acre hay farm in Rigby, Idaho.  He describes the farm as a hobby of his father's, but as we all know, these types of hobbies can take a lot of your time.  Porter's dad works at the Idaho National Laboratory.  That is a nuclear research facility located about 60 miles from their farm.  The lab has always been located way out in the Idaho desert because of the work they do.  This way, they are far from population centers, which serves a couple of purposes for the research. However, the employees don't want to live way out there, so they ride a bus to work every day and endure the long commute so their families can live in more populated communities.

During Porter's sophomore year of high school he saw the toll that the long days of work and commuting, followed by moving sprinkler pipe on the farm were taking on his dad.  So, he came up with a plan.  Porter offered to take over and run the farm so that his dad didn't have to go to work when he got home from work.  They came up with a 50/50 crop share agreement, and Porter got busy.  He took charge of every aspect from irrigation to swathing to fertilizing to marketing to delivery.  And, he grew their sales.

Today, getting all their hay sold is never a problem, and Porter has learned a ton.  It is no wonder that he made that final stage at the National Convention in 2021!


Today's episode features a unique story of a previous show I did featuring an FFA member who not only immigrated to the United States, but had a family that saw his natural desire to want to be involved in the agriculture industry and purchased a farm just for him. 


Our guest today is the 2021 National Proficiency Winner in Equine Entrepreneurship, and after listening to this interview it will be clear why she was selected.

Raley Downing has been riding horses since before she can remember and barrel racing since she was four years old.  Horses, cattle and agriculture have always been a part of her life. While she was in the 7th Grade, already showing great ability to train horses, her older brother had a horse he didn't like.  He gave that horse to Raley to see if she could make something of it, and she did.  She recognized that the horse did not have the cow ability that her brother was looking for, but that it could be a good horse for barrel racing.  She trained it, sold it, paid her brother back for his costs and made a profit.  A business was born.


There is no doubt that the most successful people are the most proactive people.  One way or another proactive people find a way to learn a new skill, start a new business or get connected to new people.  No matter how they exhibit their "proactivity" they all have one thing in common....they go get it and don't wait for it to come to them.  Every proactive person knows that if you wait for whatever it is to come to you, it is coming to everyone else at the same time, and that is not a way to get ahead.

Our guest today exhibits these proactive tendencies.  Casyn Larman is just a sophomore in high school, but he has already accomplished a lot.  I first noticed this when he emailed me, requesting to come on the show.  I soon found out that he is already serving as his chapter's reporter, and his coverage of chapter events and accomplishments of fellow members have resulted in him being published in multiple places, including the High Plains Journal.


My guest today loves farming.  As a matter of fact, even though he has only recently graduated from high school, he has loved farming for a long time already.  Connor Keithley grew up farming with his family in Missouri on a farm operation that began in the mid-1940's as a hog operation.  Sometimes in the 1990's they switched from hogs to row crops, and they have been expanding ever since with both purchased and leased ground.  Today, they are farming 10,000 acres, and Connor is an integral part of that.

Even with that size of an operation, something was tugging at Connor to start his own operation.  All the way back in middle school, he decided to pursue this and he invested the money he had saved by working for other farmers and leased 30 acres to start farming.  He still had money left over for inputs, and he began his own operation farming corn, wheat and soybeans.  He has continued to grow this ever since, and he even started raising some pigs as a fair project and liked it enough that he is continuing that to this day.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1297_Connor_Keithley-122621.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Our guest today was a National Proficiency Finalist in the category of Fruit Production in 2021.  Jacob Hinton has a deep farming and FFA legacy in his family.  However, his parents did not start the farm that he has been growing up on until 2006.  They had a vision, and Jacob has been able to grow up working on that farm and helping that vision to come to fruition (pun intended).

Hinton's Orchard is where Jacob calls home.  And on this farm he tends to flower gardens, fruit trees, a corn maze and a pumpkin patch.  He also gives hay rides, and manages much of the agritoursim and apple sales that take place in the fall.  Jacob is learning a ton at his own home.  Everything from crop production, pest control and customer service are available for him to learn.  And, this cornucopia of experience led him to Indianapolis last October as a National Proficiency Finalist.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1295_JacobHinton_REVISED-BREAK_AT_7_13-012522.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

 Connor Pence won the National Proficiency Award in Goat Production in 2021, and I could have easily titled this episode "how to win a national proficiency in goat production".  However, when I really reflected on this interview, Connor is teaching everyone how to win a national proficiency in any category.

Yes, Connor's area of focus is goats, but it is what he has done with this focus area that is instructive to the rest of us.  He doesn't just raise and sell a few goats.  He has taken a very deep dive into this species, the markets for this animal and the management of this animal.  I raise goats, and I found myself learning a ton from Connor during the interview, including information that I had never heard of before. Listen to this episode to get the full story. 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1291_Connor_Pence-121921.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Addy Stuever Battel is the 2021 National Proficiency Winner in the category of "Service Learning".  After hearing her story there is no question why she won this award.  With that said, there is a lot more to her story that makes this such a valuable interview.  Addy was a homeschooled student who was able to participate in the FFA.  I know from receiving emails from people around the country that not every school district allows students who are home schooled to participate in things like the FFA.  In this episode with Addy, she will explain what the rules in her school district were and how she was able to do this.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1289_Addy_Stuever_Battel-121921.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today we bring you a show that we aired previously on this remarkable young man and his journey through FFA -  Raising, Showing And Selling Pigs as his SAE - into achieving his dream of being a an agricultural pilot. 


Benjamin Olander won a National Proficiency Award at the National FFA Convention in October of 2021, and I was lucky enough to be back stage and to interview him as what had just happened sank in for him.  I knew as we conducted that interview that I'd like to have him on the show for a full interview, so we set it up and get to feature him today.

Ben has grown up around agriculture.  His parents moved to their 500 acre farm in Minnesota right around the time he was born, and he has been driving tractors since he was 5 years old.  Joining the FFA was a natural transition for Ben, and he started participating as soon as he was eligible.  In addition to the FFA, his responsibilities on the farm had been growing over the years, and his natural talents started to emerge.  For example, early on, while still in middle school, Ben developed an affinity for finance.  His parents helped him pursue this by getting him started in some beef projects, and a seed of talent had been planted.

As Ben entered high school he was able to obtain a job working in a business that fabricated custom parts and equipment for agriculture.  This led to Ben learning how to weld and run a CNC machine.  Soon, Ben was fabricating parts all on his own and welding pieces of equipment together from those parts.  He continued with this all through high school and kept documenting this as his supervised agricultural experience, leading to his national proficiency award.  Ben is also an excellent communicator, and this led him to become the Minnesota State FFA President during his freshman year of college.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1285_Ben_Olander-121821.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Mackenzie Henning is a natural born seed breeder.  You might not think such a person exists, but I am here to tell you that they do.  Mackenzie grew up around agriculture and farming in typical, Upper Mid-West crop rotation of corn, wheat and soybeans.  However, about five years ago her parents made a change and started growing seed corn.  This led Mackenzie into a summer job de-tasseling corn stalks and it introduced her to the genetics of developing varieties of corn.  In her sophomore year of high school Mackenzie took a biology class and started learning about genetics and the science of plant breeding and her purpose appeared before her.

Since that time Mackenzie has been on a one-way road that is leading to a career in seed breeding.  She has advanced higher and higher in the company that she began with all those year ago as just a summer job, and her responsibilities increased each summer as well.  Now she is studying biotechnology and agricultural science at South Dakota State University, and she knows that she will be heading into graduate school after her bachelor's degree.  She has her eyes fixed on being a seed breeder.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1283_Mackenzie_Henning-121821.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 10:23am MDT

Today's guest has experienced all aspect of the business cycle, and he did it all in high school!  Ayden Gartenlaub was encouraged by his father to get involved in the agriculture program and FFA at Highland High School when he was a freshman.  His father had grown up in agriculture and knew the benefits it would provide to Ayden.  So, Ayden reluctantly joined, and the rest as they say is.....history.

Like so many other students Ayden found out that he needed a supervised agricultural experience, looked around his home and found a project.  For Ayden it was chickens.  His dad and sister had purchased 15 layers for their back yard, and he thought that is where he could satisfy this requirement.  Soon, Ayden found himself selling eggs and his interest in the project began to blossom. Tune in for the rest of the story. 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1279_Ayden_Gartenlaub-121721.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

andon Bazemore was a National Proficiency Finalist in 2021.  He worked his way through multiple steps of a process of applications, interviews, section wins, state wins and more interviews to finally reach the stage in Indianapolis.  This is definitely a demonstration of hard work, dedication and participation in the FFA but, as Landon would tell you, it wasn't always this way.

Landon has been part of the FFA since middle school.  He was encouraged to join by the Ag teacher at his middle school as well as his father, and his step-brother was very involved in his FFA chapter and encouraged him as well.  So, Landon joined and wore the jacket and kept his membership up.  However, he did not attend many meetings and did not get involved much past what was minimally required of him.

During this entire time Landon had been working with his father in his father's business.  They install landscaping in new construction, and the nearest area to them with much residential development was Savannah, Georgia, two hours away.  So, there were a lot of trips to the city to grade yards away from homes, trench in sprinklers, lay sod and plant bushes.  During this time Landon did some work with his dad and some unsupervised.  The combination of the two caused him to learn a lot about this business.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1277-LandonBazemore-121121.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:00pm MDT

Molly McClure is a fierce competitor in the FFA, but she is also a fierce competitor in sports.  At Hugoton High School she ran cross country, played point guard and ran track.  For several year the National FFA Convention fell on the same weekend as the state cross country meets, so she never went.  However, that was all supposed to change in 2020, right up until Covid canceled the National FFA Convention.

Molly's disappointment did not need to last for long however.  The convention was back in 2021, and so was she!  Molly had submitted proficiency applications for her diversified livestock projects and aced her interviews.  She ran her projects completely independently of her parents, and she credits that with helping her to do very well on her interviews.  Since she had been making all of the decisions, the answers to the interview questions came very easy to her.

Ultimately the judges at the National FFA selected Molly as one of four National Proficiency Finalists in the category of Diversified Livestock Production.  Since she was now in college at Kansas State University and no longer running cross country, this meant that Molly was finally going to be able to go to the National Convention.  However, it also meant that if the size and scope of this great convention was not a enough to overwhelm her, she was also going to be going up on the big stage in the big stadium in front of thousands of people as a national proficiency finalist almost immediately upon her arrival.  Molly said that it was fast and mostly a blur, and she was happy that she made it across the stage without tripping.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1273_Molly_McLure-121121.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

 I met Cassie Carter at the 2021 National FFA Convention.  I was in a room interviewing National Proficiency Winners, and she had just won a national proficiency award in the category of Agricultural Services.  Cassie had been working in her families taxidermy business, Trophy Taker Taxidermy, since she was about six years old, and this seemed like a perfect fit for her SAE.  Well, that turned out to be correct as she had just come off stage with a very prestigious award.

My wife, Autumm, was helping me that day and she was speaking with Cassie while they waited for me to be ready.  I then did a brief interview with Cassie and asked her if she would like to schedule a time to do a full interview on the show.  She said yes, we shook hands and she walked away.  Then Autumm told me that Cassie had been telling her all about going to college at Emory in Georgia and that she was a pre-med student and how challenging it already was.

Today was the day for Cassie and I to complete the full interview, and I dug a little deeper into her story and why she wants to be a doctor.  She told me that she has actually decided to pursue being a trauma surgeon in Downtown Atlanta, and she is hoping to really make a difference this way.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1271_Cassie_Carter-120921.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 3:25pm MDT

For the past several years the issue of mental health in the agricultural community has become more and more mainstream with some of the stigma slipping away.  About the time this really started to take hold Madisen Jolliff was noticing that this existed all on her own.  At the same time she was just coming into the FFA and looking for a project for her SAE.  Ultimately she chose to speak with farmers about these issues and try to help people open up.  The results she received were very unexpected, even for Madisen.

Madisen has friends who feel an immense sense of pressure and stress because they have or will inherit land that has been in the family for generations, and they don't want to be the link in the chain where it all ends.  She also has friends that experience stress because they will not inherit land and they cannot find their pathway into farming and raising their own livestock.  She finds herself experiencing both of these as she will one day inherit part of her families farm, but that will not be for a long time.  So in the meantime she is trying to figure out how to get her own land to continue growing her herd of cattle.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1267_Madison_Jolliff-120721.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Fresh off of the high of the National FFA Convention I returned home to my studio and can you believe it, my very first interview with was with Tristan Wirkus, who had just one a National Proficiency Award!

There is literally so much good going on at the National Convention that I just cannot keep up.  My interview with Tristan has been on the calendar for weeks.  What great luck for me that he won the national proficiency in Environmental Science & Natural Resources Management.  Tristan has an absolute passion for the environment and the green spaces in his hometown of Stratford, Wisconsin.  This, in combination with the fact that his mother is an FFA advisor led him into this incubator that we call the FFA.

Since that initial participation in the 6th Grade Tristan's experience has grown and grown.  This ultimately led him to coordinating with dozens of stakeholders in Stratford to get trees planted throughout the city and along their Heritage Trail, and this ultimately led to the city receiving the designation of "Tree City USA".  If this were not enough, Tristan went to work testing water quality in a local pond so that changes could be made to make the pond conducive to a healthy fish population.  Once this was done the local police department started a "Cops And Bobbers" program to teach kids how to fish there.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1265_Tristan_Wirkus.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

The Mackay High School FFA Chapter holds a "Christmas Bazaar" every year, right after the Thanksgiving break to bring the small and isolated community as well as people from the surrounding communities together.  The bazaar features some food, some singing and Christmas spirit, but the real emphasis is on community support.  This year 49 different small businesses were able to attend for $10 per table and sell their wares to the community.  On average each vendor made over $1,000 at the bazaar.

At the same time that the businesses were gaining exposure, selling products and meeting community members, people from the remote area had a place to get together with friends and neighbors and do their Christmas shopping all in one location.  It is no wonder that this event has been going up and growing in success for up to 25 years now. Tune in for this fun interview on how this all comes together. 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1263-Mackay_FFA-121621.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Since Christmas is almost here, I think this interview is appropriate! Learn how one FFA member is making a difference to children by purchasing them Christmas presents from money raised by the Wilcox County High School FFA Chapter of Rachelle, Georgia. Listening to this interview will surely get you into the holiday spirit. 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1262-Replay_Of_Episode_737-120421.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today's interview is special.  I rarely get to interview a student, or any guest for that matter, face to face.  However, I had accidentally scheduled an interview with Luke Jennings for when he would be at the National FFA Convention and I would be traveling to the convention.  So, we decided to do the interview in person in Indianapolis.  My studio for this interview happened to be the press box way above the field at Lucas Oil Stadium, so it was quite a different experience for me.

Luke came up for the interview after walking across the big stage at the convention for the third time!  He and his team had just been recognized for the performance in the parliamentary procedure competition.  However, how I had first learned of Luke was due to his nomination for a national proficiency award. Learn more in today's episode.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1261_Luke_Jennings-113021.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

The unbelievable stories that I am privileged to cover on this show just never stop!  Today I am talking with National Proficiency Finalist, Miles Lee.  Miles has an incredible story on many, many levels.

To begin, Miles grew up in the city but he and his family would vacation at his Great Uncle's farm in Alabama where they raised pigs and chickens.  At an early age this inspired Miles, and a love for farming and agriculture was set in motion.  However, there was more to it than just the livestock.  Miles found himself fascinated with the soil and the life within the soil.  He used to play soccer, and at slow moments in the game he would get scolded for digging in the dirt rather than focusing on the game!  That is not what the soccer coach wanted, but this agricultural podcaster couldn't be more thrilled!

As his love for the soil grew Miles noticed how often he smelled the bad odors coming from the landfill across the road from his house.  He told me that he thought to himself, "there's got to be a better way".  This led him to discover vermiculture and vermicomposting with help of a middle school science teacher.  Miles explored composting food waste in this type of system, but soon it was time for high school.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1259_Miles_Lee-112721.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

In today's show, I feature a replay of an awesome interview with one FFA member who is making a goat business work. He is expanding and finding new ways to not only grow his goat herd, but also to grow his goat herd. Check out today's replay of episode 703.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1256-Replay_of_Episode_703-120421.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

One of the great things about hosting this podcast is that I get to speak with people in every stage of development in their agricultural journeys.  Today, I am proud to speak with Shayla Russell.  Shayla is just beginning her sophomore year of high school in a beautiful part of Montana, and she is just beginning the development of her own cattle herd. Tune in for more about Shayla in this episode. 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1255_Shayla_Russell-112721.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Back in 2018 I interviewed a high school sophomore named Kaelyn Sumner who was just starting her first agricultural business with honey bees called "K's Bees".  At the time she told me about her interest in insects, bees and doing research beyond her entrepreneurship SAE.  Fast forward to today, and Kaelyn is a freshman in college at Kansas State University and has followed through on all of those statements that she made.

Kaelyn is majoring in Agricultural Education with minors in entomology and food science.  She has already lined up work in the food production industry for her summers, and she intends on bring knowledge about food science back to the high school ag classroom as an ag teacher in a few short years.  In addition, she has competed in several research projects and seen a lot of success since we talked in 2018, including placing in two, national science contests.

Kaelyn is a great example of good goal setting and following through on what your vision is.  She has great advice for students in this episode!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1253_Kaelyn_Sumner-112621.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Our guest today knows the meaning of a legacy, the meaning of hard work and the reward of seeing your hard work turn into revenue.  Jill Uken is a 3rd generation FFA student whose grandfather's membership inspired her and her brothers to join.  Jill also witnessed the sweet potato business that her older brother started when he was in the FFA, and she decided to carry it forward.

Today, Jill is getting a lot of attention for her project, but it has not come without hard work from everybody in her family.  Whether it was the planting of the 500 sweet potato plants, the weed control or the harvesting everyone found out what farming was like prior to the use of mechanized equipment.  That is precisely because they don't have any!  Illinois is not a place where you would expect to find sweet potato farmers, so there is no harvesting or planting equipment available to rent or borrow.  Everything Jill and her family are doing, is done by hand! Learn more about Jill in today's show. 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1249-Jill_Uken-112421.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Our guest today, Avery Winters, is her FFA Chapter's President, raises pigs for her supervised agricultural experience and has been a Texas State Proficiency Finalist as well as a District Proficiency Winner in swine production - and she lives in a subdivision.  Across the nation we are seeing the enrollment in more and more high school FFA chapters coming from students who live in subdivisions.  This is due to two things - first, the outstanding success of the FFA as a program and the subsequent success of FFA students, and the fact that over time communities change and develop leading to the loss of farms and construction of homes.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1247-Avery_Winters-112321.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Sometimes when I conduct an interview I can find myself talking for hours if I am not careful.  Usually this is because there are so many different aspects of the guest's story that I could investigate the time just seems to flow by.  That was definitely possible in today's interview with National Proficiency Finalist and Minnesota State Officer, Nicole Koziolek.

I did a decent job of adhering to my normal time constraints, but there is so much to Nicole's story that it was difficult to not spend 30 minutes on each aspect.  To begin, Nicole comes from a farming family and farming legacy.  And, she grew up with her two parents who were farming corn and soybeans in Minnesota.  Nicole is an only child, so she would go to the farm with them, which is about 30 miles from their home, because she did not want to be left home alone.  However, for many of those years Nicole would just ride along and visit.  She did not necessarily show any desire to learn about the farming itself.

Nicole really was not excited about being part of the FFA, but her parents both had been very involved and wanted that to happen.  Eventually, Nicole's mom talked her into attending one, exploratory, meeting just to see what it was all about.  Something special happened in that meeting.  Nicole was hooked.  So hooked, in fact, that she went out of her way to participate.  Nicole went to high school at Northfield High School in Northfield, Minnesota.  However, they did not have an FFA chapter.  The nearest chapter as at Randolph High School about 15 miles away.  So, Nicole drove every morning to Randolph and attended two ag classes so that she could participate in the Randolph FFA Chapter.  She would then drive back to Northfield High School for the rest of her classes.

When it was time for Nicole to start a supervised agricultural experience she was considering a placement SAE, working on her families farm.  However, her dad convinced her to take a little risk and try farming for herself with an entrepreneurship SAE.  She accepted the challenge but realized that all of those years in the cab of the tractor riding along could have been used to learn everything she now needed to know.  So, she started "learning to farm" at a rapid pace.

Five years after that initial meeting at the Randolph FFA Chapter, Nicole is now nominated for a national proficiency award.  She had progressed from renting 20 acres from her parents to owning 13% of the operation.  She is majoring in agricultural communications and marketing at the University Of Minnesota.  And, she is a state officer for Minnesota FFA.  It is a remarkable journey and the FFA was an incredible catalyst for this transformation and success story!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1243_Nicole_Koziolek-112021.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 9:21am MDT

Kendra Goplin is a freshman at South Dakota State University, studying ag education.  She is also a national proficiency finalist, which is the realization of a lifelong goal.  If you are just looking at the student who now will stand on the national stage and be recognized for her accomplishments, you will miss the story of the journey that brought her here.  With no disrespect to her accomplishments, that journey is a fascinating part of this story. Listen in to get the details. 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1241-Kendra_Goplin-111721.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Kaylea Taylor first appeared on the show during her sophomore year of high school in episode #681.  She was just beginning her journey of putting on camps to teach 4H and FFA students better skills in exhibiting their goats.  Over time this became known as "Stepping Up Show Goat Camp" and her reputation has spread.

Today I am proud to have Kaylea back on the show as a national proficiency finalist.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1237-Kaylea_Taylor_REVISED-112021.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

As you all know I was invited to give a keynote speech at the Montana FFA Foundation's Ag Expo at Montana State University which took place two weeks ago.  After the keynote, Trent Petersen, the president of the Red Lodge FFA Chapter from Red Lodge, Montana joined me on stage for his and my first ever, live podcast recording.  It was a blast, and I am featuring it for you here today.

Trent is a very impressive young man with a dream of running his own cow/calf herd.  He is already building that herd, finding land anywhere he can in his area to put a few head of cattle, get his calves, retain his heifers and sell his steers.  He has a vision of returning to the classroom in the future as an FFA Advisor, and this is his chosen method of creating his off-farm income to support this cattle operation that he has envisioned.

Direct download: Trent_Peterson_Episode_1236_-_112221_11.52_AM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Every now and then in an interview there is so much information to cover that I find myself exceeding the normal length of an episode.  That was definitely the case in my interview with Jeremiah Geise.

I first learned about Jeremiah because he was a national proficiency finalist in the category of diversified livestock.  As they say, that was only the "tip of the iceberg".  Jeremiah is doing a lot more than raising multiple species of livestock, i.e. pigs, sheep and goat.  He is also using artificial insemination to breed as much as he can, and he has discovered multiple niche markets.  He also had set up contracts and direct marketing on all three species.  So, when he has an animal born on his farm, he already knows who the buyer is and that the buyer exists!  This is next level agricultural marketing!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1235_Jeremiah_Geise-REVISED-111921.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Brandon Jakobi is a National Proficiency Finalist this year for his custom round bale business in Wisconsin.  He had several things come together at once that were the catalyst for him to achieve at this very high level.

Brandon joined the FFA in the 7th Grade.  It was something that he always knew that he wanted to do, and he made it happen at his first opportunity.  Brandon's father had been in the FFA and was part of the FFA Alumni Chapter in their area, so he knew the ropes.  Knowing that Brandon would need a good SAE, he suggested that Brandon purchase his round baler and start his own business baling hay and cornstalks, etc. for people in their community.  Brandon's dad also knew that Brandon had been inspired by another student from their area who had won a National Proficiency Award.  Brandon told me that the community really celebrated this accomplishment and that made him want to do the same thing.

Knowing that a national proficiency award was the goal, Brandon and his father thought this business could be the perfect fit to help him achieve this.  Brandon Jakobi's Round Baling was born.  Since that time Brandon has continued to build his client base by using such marketing methods as hanging fliers in stores and pulling his round baler through parades.  Today his business supports him financially, and when he is not baling hay he is working on his families farm or a neighboring dairy.  Brandon is still living in the surreal knowing that he is this close to accomplishing his goal and realizing just how far he has come.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1231-Brandon_Jakobi-111521.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

I just returned from an incredible three days in Montana, the genesis of which was the greatest professional honor bestowed upon me in my life - presenting my very first keynote address at the college that I received my agriculture degree from to an audience of FFA students.  On Thursday I presented a keynote and did my first ever podcast interview in front of a live audience at Montana State University.  You all know how much I love my former university and the small city that adopted me for three years.  In today's episode I get to tell you all about it!

Direct download: OFI_1230_Tuesday_Episode_-_111521_7.34_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Our guest today has a really amazing story of growth and development.  To preface this, Case Edwards is one of four national proficiency finalists in the category of Ag Mechanics Repair And Maintenance.  But to hear him tell his story, when he was a sophomore in high school if you had shown him a spark plug, he would not have known what it was.

Case's story really starts with joining the FFA, but it takes a big turn during his sophomore year when his friend Terrence started small engine team in their chapter.  He talked Case into being part of it, and soon Case discovered an aptitude that he did not know that he had.  This led to the idea of fixing up old lawn mowers and flipping them, and things just kept snowballing

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income-Episode_1229_Case_Edwards-110821.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Our guest today is very involved in her families dairy and dairy business, but it hasn't always been that way. Along the way to Maggie Mathew's nomination as a National Proficiency Finalist there were some bumps in the road. In some ways her childhood has been very similar to mine, starting with the divorce of her parents.  At that point she was exposed to agriculture and livestock, but at a smaller level.  However, after her mother remarried she was brought into a farming family and she took flight from there

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1225_Maggie_Mathews-110121.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

The story of today's guest could be a recruiting poster for the FFA, if the FFA actually needed recruiting posters.  I found out about Francisco Rocha because he is a national proficiency finalist this year.  However, that is the current version of his story.  What is so compelling here is the "rest of the story", to quote Paul Harvey.

Francisco grew up in Heber, California, which is right next to the larger city of El Centro.  When he started high school he was placed in an introduction to science class, and this was taught through the agriculture department.  The next thing that Francisco knew, he was an FFA member, and he embraced the group.  He continued to get more involved, even though he had not grown up on a farm.

In Francisco's junior year of high school, he took a job with his father a produce packing business in El Centro.  There, he tagged boxes of produce grown in his area of California as well as produce that had been shipped over from Mexico.  After these boxes were tagged they were shipped all over the U.S. to grocery stores and restaurants for human consumption.  During this time he was learning about food safety, the supply chain and customer service.  At the same time, his FFA advisor encouraged him to make this job his supervised agricultural experience, and he took the advice.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1223-Francisco_Rocha-110121.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Our guest today is just a junior in high school, but his achievements suggest someone who is well beyond high school.  Ethan Lulich is a National Proficiency Finalist already, for this his supervised agricultural experience restoring and selling antique tractors.  In addition to that he has two placement SAE's and another entrepreneurship SAE.  He is also serving as his chapter's president already.

Needless to say, Ethan is busy, and that means that he has to be well organized.  As I conducted this interview with Ethan one theme that kept coming up was goal setting.  He is achieving so much in such a short amount of time, there has to be a way that he is getting this done.  It turns out that Ethan is very good at setting significant goals and then sketching out a map to follow to help him get there.  Between his ability to set these goals and his discipline to follow the plan to achieve them he is seeing great results. Learn more by tuning into this podcast today. 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1219_Ethan_Lulich-102321.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Last Saturday night at about 11pm my wife and I touched down at the airport, exhausted from an incredible but very active week in Indianapolis.  We had been at the National FFA Convention all week, walked dozens of miles and met hundreds of incredible people.  We had seen the future leaders of our country, with all of their hope and promise, talent and work ethic, on display for the whole world to see.  And then, just like that, it was over.

After the plane came to a stop at the gate we walked through the empty airport, retrieved our bags and found our car.  Driving through the night we found our way back to our farm, back to our normal life and the last little bit of travel adrenaline wore off.

Our daughter had flown to and from the convention with her FFA chapter, so she had beat us home.  She was already in bed, and there was no waking her.  My wife made her way to bed and to sleep as quickly as possible, but I wasn’t quite ready.

I had been gone for five days, and I missed the farm.  It was a beautiful night so I decided to take a walk and check a few things before heading to bed.  The chickens were all locked up, the pigs had feed and water and the cows and goats were bedded down where they should be.  Nothing was amiss, and from the perspective of our livestock it was like we had never left.

The night was quiet and clear, and I stood looking at the stars.  As I stood there thinking about the great week that we had just concluded I heard a train blow its horn as it approached town.  I couldn’t help but smile.  Just six hours earlier I had pulled off the side of Interstate 57 to take a picture in front of the Kankakee sign as we drove towards Chicago.

We had flown in and out of Chicago and rented a car so we could get a look at the “houses, farms and fields” of Illinois and Indiana on our way to and from the convention.  I had purposefully chosen this route on our way back so I could see this town with the funny sounding name that Steve Goodman wrote about and Willie Nelson sang about in the great song, “The City Of New Orleans”.

Coordinated Inspiration

As I stood there a thought entered my mind and my smile began to grow and grow.  At the same time that we had made our way back to our farm, tens of thousands of American youth were making their way back to theirs.  All across the country FFA students were making late night arrivals at their family farms, ranches and rural towns as they returned from this great convention.

I imagined these students looking up at the stars in their own hometowns, inspired by the time they had just spent in Indiana and dreaming of what their futures would be.  There is a big world out there and it is filled with opportunities.  However, if you are never exposed to those ideas or nobody ever tells you about them, you don’t even know they exist.

For the 55,000+ FFA students who were able to attend this great convention they couldn’t help but be excited.  This whole world of opportunity was brought to them and placed at their feet, all under one roof.  Whether their path is in the military, the trades, college, niche farming or production agriculture, everywhere they turned there was somebody who was eager to have them join them in their vocation and call to service.

I could not fathom how many thousands of students at that moment were telling themselves, “I didn’t know you could do that for a career” or who had received the spark necessary to light the fire in their souls that had just been waiting to burn.

If all the adults in the expo hall reaching out to these youth by metaphorically saying “follow me and serve your fellow man” weren’t enough, there were the general sessions.  The folks at the FFA are experts at creating an environment that first gets you very excited, followed by inspiration after inspiration in each of these general sessions.

No Excuses

The best thing this convention does, whether or not this is intentional, is that it removes all excuses.  In every session there are FFA students on the stage that are achieving at a very high level.  From the National Officers who run the show, to future professional musicians, to American Stars and Proficiency Finalists, you are shown the best of the best.  The stories of these students and how they made it to that stage are told to you, and every student sees what is possible.

For example, if a student had just found out about a dream career in the expo and told yourself, “that’s for other people, I could never do that”, in the general session they would get a metaphorical wake up call from the stories of the students on the stage that would leave them with only one answer - “If they did it, I can do it too, the only thing holding me back is me”.  That is a sobering thought, but it is also freeing and it is just what these students need to hear to be able to unleash their greatness.

Student after student walks across that stage.  Some receive the highest awards, others do not, but every nominee has achieved things that even adults only dream about.

Whether it is the agriscience research finalist whose research began during his freshman year of high school and has now taken him around the world.  Or the agribusiness finalist who saw a need at livestock shows that was not being filled and at 19 years of age flies all over the country fulfilling this need for his clients.  Or the agricultural placement finalist who had to find a way to fill a major void on his families farm and continue high school when Covid decimated their employee staff.  Or a star farmer candidate who started leasing land at an early age and building their own herd to now find themselves in a position to farm for their living.  Student after student and story after story erases excuse after excuse and replaces them with inspiration.

Neither a student nor an adult can leave a general session without a sense of inspiration and a renewed vigor that makes them believe they can go conquer the world!  Every student and every adult takes a lot more home with them from the convention than they brought.  I bring home so much energy and inspiration that I almost feel selfish.

Organizational Success

To go the FFA’s National Convention is to see unbelievable stories of individual success.  However, it is also to see an incredible example of organizational success.  The 2021 National FFA convention is the 94th iteration of this great event.  Since 1928 the National FFA has been chasing a vision of unity, fraternity, education and inclusion in agriculture.  The result has been unbelievable growth in the number of chapters and students who choose to be part of this organization.

In the midst of the activities, music, lights and competitions of the National FFA Convention one tends to see the individual achievement only.  However, if you sit down and watch students walk by, reading the names of the states that they are from on the back of their jackets you see how this kernel of an idea that sprouted almost 100 years ago has transformed agriculture and the lives of millions of American youth since that day.

There is no hall of fame for youth organizations or non-profit associations.  When one is finally created, the FFA will be a first ballot, charter member.  There is room in the FFA for everyone, whether you live in a neighborhood or on a farm.  The FFA will teach you the skills you need to succeed and expose you to a career or aptitude that will allow you to thrive.

Find your inspiration, find your purpose and find it in the FFA! 

Direct download: OFI_1218_Tuesday_Episode_-_11121_6.03_PM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

So, what's in the water in Slaton, Texas?  Is it some sort of magical elixir that produces national proficiency and American Star finalists?  This is a question that I am pondering more and more.

Today's show features a repeat guest, Rachyl Kitten.  Rachyl first appeared on the show just over a year ago on episode #895.  The way that I initially found out about Rachyl was that she was a national proficiency finalist in 2020.  Well....she is a national proficiency finalist again, this time for 2021!  She has great entrepreneurial instincts, a great business, and a great supporting cast at Slaton.

What is incredible about Slaton?  Tune into this podcast to find out!

Direct download: Rachyl_Kitten_Revised_Episode_-_102921_11.25_AM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Lashawna Vogel has so many positive attributes and has accomplished so much already that it is impracticable to try and list them all here.  With that said, the thing that stands out to me, so big, is that she grew up outside of agriculture.  One of her aunts encouraged her to take ag classes and join the FFA because she knew how positive it could be for Lashawna.  Lashawna gave it a shot, and the rest, as they say, is history!

Actually, it is not quite history yet.  Lashawna is still competing and accomplishing a lot in the FFA.  Right now she is serving as a state officer for the State Of Wisconsin.  And, she is one of just four national proficiency finalists in the category of Agricultural Communications!  She has been working as a "media intern" in the FFA since her 8th-grade year when she was awarded that position in her middle school chapter.  She continued that throughout high school and has grown her skill set more and more each year.

Now, that exposure, the training, and the challenges are all culminating in national recognition.  She is also pursuing a degree in agricultural marketing and communications and plans on advocating for agriculture through the medium in the future.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1213-Lashawna_Vogel-101821.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

On the day this episode comes out I am heading to my 3rd National FFA Convention, but I won't be going alone.  Actually, Hattie is already there with her Conduct Of Chapter Meetings Team as well as 32 other members of her FFA chapter.  And, because Hattie is competing there Autumm took the time off of work and is traveling with me to Indianapolis as my assistant.  But of course we will both be covering the conduct of meetings competitions very closely and are looking forward to seeing Hattie and all of her teammates perform.

Even though this will be my 3rd National Convention, there will be a lot of firsts for me.  This is the first time that any of my family members are going.  This is the first time that I will be going as a member of the advisory council for Kuna FFA.  This will be the first time that Autumm and I have ever visited Chicago.  It is going to be a great trip, and I have all of you in the his audience to thank for this!

If it were not for you supporting this show, there is a good chance that Hattie would not be in the FFA, I would not be on the advisory council and I would have long since abandoned the podcast and never gone to that very first National Convention!  Thank you!

Direct download: OFI_1212_Tuesday_Episode_-_102521_11.52_AM.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Behind every successful person, there was somebody who was pushing them or encouraging them, and today's interview is absolute proof of that.

Kami Holt is a National Proficiency Finalist this year in Ag Sales Entrepreneurship, but her journey didn't just start yesterday.  Growing up on her family's century farm in Southern Utah, Kami has been exposed to agriculture her entire life.  However, it was her older brother's membership in the FFA that sparked this interest and ultimately led her to join.  However, joining was enough for Kami, and when she was asked if she was going to compete for a leadership role she said "no".

Kami's grandmother and brother would not take "no" for an answer and really pushed or, as Kami put it, "coerced" her into filling out the application to join the officer team.  Ultimately she was selected, spend three years as an officer, and found that to be a very rewarding experience.  During this time Kami took over her brother's SAE project, selling corn stalks and straw bales, and continued to grow the business.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1211-Kami_Holt-101821.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

is interview is so good, it is worth another play.

Hannah was originally on our show on episode #410 talking all about how she combines an eye for art with her knowledge of agriculture.  I am proud to say that her talents took her all the way to becoming an American Star Finalist in 2020, and it was my pleasure to profile her again.  Below are the show notes from the first time she was on the show.

Original Show Notes:

Have you ever heard of a starving artist?  Of course, you have.  How about that old cliche about the artist that created a solid business plan, developed a targeted market that would pay for their art, and designed a solid business?  Right.....that cliche is not as common.

Our guest today is that second kind of artist.  Hannah York has an eye for art.  Specifically, she crafts her vision into artistic holiday creations for businesses around Princeton, Kentucky.  She has one, VERY busy season where she must completely prioritize her business.  As her reputation grows, so does the demand for this service that she provides.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1208-Recap_Of_Episode_925-100521.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Kayla Rossi is a National Proficiency Finalist in the category of diversified livestock production this year.  And to look at what she is currently doing and what she has already accomplished might make you think that it has been easy.  If that is the case, it is only because she makes it look that way.

Kayla raises her livestock on her family's ranch in the high country of Northwest Colorado.  This brings challenges that many of the rest of us never have to deal with including harsh winters, drought, and predators.  In 2019, as Kayla was really getting ready to hit her stride in her herd of cattle, a herd of goats, and a flock of sheep she had a major predator loss.  That year her profit, or lack thereof, on her lambs was negative $29.

She did not allow this to stop or discourage her, however.  She made adjustments and persisted.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1207-Kayla_Rossi-101421_1.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

As you all know this show is all about entrepreneurship in agriculture.  So, I almost never interview FFA students with placement SAE's except for American Star Finalists.  Guests like Duncan Patton definitely make me rethink this strategy.

It seems like I run into this same puzzle each time it is American Star Interview Season.  I come across a student who has risen to the top in agricultural placement, and I can see the extreme wisdom in what they have done.  Duncan Patton definitely has this wisdom.

Duncan has been working on his family's farm since he was five years old, and that is right where he wants to be. However, he has also worked for a number of neighboring ranches and farms, learning a myriad of other skills.  After high school, Duncan moved all the way to Ohio to study diesel technology, and while he was there he worked for a very large farming operation and learned about chickens and the different ways that farming gets done there.

During the interview, Duncan talked about these experiences.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1205_Duncan_Patton-101321.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Not much has changed when it comes to using the term "value-added" since the first time I aired this interview with Logan Schlauch who is benefitting from the trend in adding something a little extra or giving the consumer a little more while, in this case, a dairy producer can add to his bottom line. Here is the story of one small dairy operation that got creative and created a value-added product in order not only to help with profit margins but to also appease customer demand for greek style yogurts. Additionally, this project has served as an FFA learning experience for Logan Schlauch.

 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1202-Recap_Of_Episode_821-100521.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Interviewing FFA students I find myself constantly asking "what was I doing during high school?".  I think I was a pretty typical high school student way back in the 1900s.  I played sports, got decent grades, had a job, and focused on menial things outside of that.  I also wasn't in the FFA, and interviewing these students from all over the country makes me realize that there is a whole other level of achievement possible in high school.

To say that there is a whole other level of achievement seems like an understatement when describing today's guest.  Josh Heupel is an American Star Farmer Finalist, and his resume is unbelievable.  As a junior in college, majoring in agricultural business and political science, Josh has already accomplished a lifetime of achievements.  He is leasing and farming 97 acres of walnuts and 84 acres of almonds.  He has designed and patented a piece of equipment to improve nut farmers' harvests and encourage the use of cover crops in orchards.  He owns and operates his own custom spreading business.  And, he is soon to graduate from college and take up a role advocating for agriculture in the Central Valley of California that I think is going to be unprecedented in its effectiveness.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1201_Josh_Heupel-100721.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Our guest today is an American Star Finalist in the category of Agricultural Placement, and there is an incredible story that comes along with this nomination.

Caleb Peckham has grown up on his family's small dairy farm in eastern Connecticut.  In the latter half of the 2010s, low milk prices were harming dairies all over the United States, but smaller dairies in Connecticut seemed to be getting hit extra hard because they were so much more sensitive to the margins they were operating on.  As a response to these prices, Caleb's parents knew that something had to be done so that their family farm could survive.  The decision to start direct marketing products through a farm store they called Farm To Table Market in 2018.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1199_Caleb_Peckham-100121.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

One of the things that I love about interviewing FFA students is coming across individuals that don't care what age they are and who will not take "no" for an answer.  Never has that been more true than in my interview with Mackenzie Camacho today.

Mackenzie is now a sophomore at Purdue University, where she is studying civil engineering.  She has been nominated an American Star Finalist in the category of agriscience research, and it has not been easy.  Mackenzie grew up in the San Joaquin Valley of California around many different tree crops, and something about them and research took hold when she joined the FFA.

Mackenzie started studying different parasitic pathogens in tree crops and how they could be controlled either through specific management practices or by altering traditional management practices.  However, she was doing really advanced work while still in high school.  As a result, some of the researchers she took her findings to dismissed her without really hearing her out.  However, she didn't give up and continued talking to researchers about what she had found and what her conclusions were until she found somebody who would listen.  As a result, she has now presented to farmers all across the West, and she found partners to help her further her research.

Mackenzie now wants to focus on building infrastructure, like dams, that can help California agriculture.  I am very excited to see where she takes all of this!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1195_Mackenzie_Camacho-100121.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30pm MDT

I don't even know where to begin in describing today's guest or her accomplishments.  Emily Acevedo is a bundle of energy, confidence, and personality.  And with her combining a love for research with such incredible people skills, she is really going to climb to heights that maybe even she is not imagining right now.

At the age of 20, Emily is a hardened veteran in the world of agriscience research.  After all, she reluctantly joined the FFA in the 6th Grade and found herself on stage later that year as a state proficiency finalist!  And after an unexpected kidding incident at the fairgrounds, with no parents around when she was young, she has been obsessed with reproduction in goats ever since.  That has driven her research, and that is what will take her to Indianapolis later this month to go on the big stage as an American Star Finalist in Agriscience Research.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1193_Emily_Acevedo-092821.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

On Today's show, I replay a fun and entertaining interview on how two FFA members teamed up to craft a unique FFA SAE. It is not just about the finished art products, it is also about unique marketing and forming a partnership using specific skillsets with a common interest in woodwork and art. More about how this idea for a "board art" SAE came about coming up in today's show. (Replay of Episode #316)

 

 

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1190_Recap_Of_Episode_316-091121.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

On multiple occasions, after interviewing FFA students who have started lawn care businesses, I have referred to this particular type of business as a "future millionaire maker".  It seems as though every single year there is an FFA student who is a finalist for the American Star in Agribusiness that is the owner of a lawn care company, and that is because this is such a strong and great business to have.

In today's episode, I get to interview Matt Rowlette, the owner, and creator of Rowlettes Lawn Care.  This company actually officially began when Matt was eight years old, and he was hired to trim weeds along his uncle's fence, bordering 150 acres.  His parents purchased his first mower and trimmer for him, and he has those still today.  However, he has been steadily reinvesting into his business and growing it since that time.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1189_Matt_Rowlette-090721.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Today's guest, Chase Krug, first appeared on the Off-Farm Income Podcast in episode #203 when he was a freshman in high school in 2016.  Back then he was already doing research and had been awarded an SAE Grant to study the Colorado Potato Beetle as well as blight in potatoes.  Over the past five years he has continued his passion for both research and plant breeding, and has added 13 more research projects for a total of 15 (he had one before the potatoes).

If you are wondering, this is not the norm, this is exceptional.  So exceptional in fact that right after Chase graduated from high school he was sent to India, by himself, to work on plant breeding and research new varieties of mung beans through an internship he had been granted.  Chase has continued to be recognized and be awarded internships and jobs such as working for the the USDA - ERS and publishing recommendations for countries like Egypt.  And now, he has been nominated as an American Star Finalist in the category of Agriscience Research.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1187-Chase_Krug-090621_1.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

I interview a lot of high school students on this show with great businesses.  Even with these fantastic businesses already started, many of them tell me that they do not plan on continuing as a business owner or they are going to go to college after high school and possibly continue the business on the side in the future.  For some reason, even though they have seen success as business owners during their time in the FFA they don't see it as a possibility as a future career.

Our guest today, Tyler Ertzberger, is not one of those students.  And, what has it led to?  He is an American Star Finalist in Agribusiness.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1181_Tyler_Ertizberger-090221.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

There is something very special about being able to interview all of the American Star Award Finalists every year.  It is definitely a time of year that is inspirational to me and that gives me the motivation to continue my quest into entrepreneurship.  And the only thing that can make that even more special is when one of those finalists has been a guest on the show before.

After 7 years of interviewing FFA students, and increasing the number of FFA students that I interview from 52 to 104 per year, that has been happening more frequently, and that is happening today!

Raegan Klaassen is an American Star Farmer Finalist, and she first appeared on the Off-Farm Income Podcast in February of 2017 on episode #251 when she was just a freshman.  I don't think I had enough experience to predict that she would have this level of success way back then, but looking back on what I wrote in the show notes for her episode I should have seen it coming.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1177_Raegan_Klaassen.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

I try to interview every American Star Finalist, every year at this time.  To me, getting to spend 20-30 minutes asking these FFA members about their journeys is what it would be like for other people to get to interview a star athlete for that amount of time.  These students have risen to the top of an organization with a lot of talent.  When these students are finally named as an American Star Finalist they have overcome the odds and been selected as one of four students in their category out of a total population of students of over 700,000.  That puts them in the top .0005% of all FFA students.  Those are more difficult odds than making it to the major leagues, NBA, or the NFL!

Today's episode is another example of the talent level that the FFA holds.  Our guest, Wyatt Harlan, knew at an early age that other extracurricular activities like sports or drama were not going to be for him.  So, he chose the FFA based on his agricultural roots and lifestyle, and he poured himself into it.  Six years after joining he had found himself as a Texas State FFA Vice-President, a business owner, and now an American Star Finalist in Agribusiness

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1175_Wyatt_Harlan-082921.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

On today's show, we are featuring an American Star Finalist in agricultural placement.  These are always great interviews because the students that make it to this level are so dedicated to whomever they are working for, family or otherwise, their talents and work ethic shine through.  That is definitely true with Jakob Weinheimer.

Jakob has grown up in Claude, Texas working on his family's farm.  In their portion of Texas, they are growing cotton, corn, wheat, and milo.  Some of this is done on the irrigated ground and some on dry ground.  Each poses its own challenges.  

Jakob is a pivotal part of this operation, and he has progressively been given more and more responsibility every growing season as he has got older.  Being recognized as an American Star Finalist is not the first recognition that Jakob has received.  In 2019 he was a national proficiency winner in grain production, so he has been to the big stage once already.  Interestingly he did this with a different chapter at Claude High School.  However, since graduation from high, he switched chapters to continue pursuing achievements in the FFA.  Jakob's sister is in the FFA through the Pan Handle Chapter, so he switched over to that chapter to make keeping up his record book seamless.

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1171_Jakob_Weinheimer-082421.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 12:30am MDT