2019 Diversified Agricultural Production winner – Jacob Wuebker, Versailles

Stars showcase Ohio agriculture at the National FFA Convention

By Bethany Starlin, OCJ FFA reporter

Cooling temperatures, turning leaves and the ongoing autumn harvest are just a few of the signs that fall is beginning to slip into winter. For the next generation of agriculturalists, however, this seasonal change also marks the single greatest annual celebration of the National FFA Organization. With a membership as strong as 700,000 young people and over a million alumni and supporters, the organization is sure to celebrate the many accomplishments of the past year in a big way. 

During the last week of October, it is estimated that around 70,000 FFA members along with their supporters and guests will travel to Indianapolis for the 95th National FFA Convention & Expo. The week is busy but fulfilling as it energizes members for what’s to come in their FFA career while also recognizing the successes of those who have taken advantage of the opportunities that the blue jacket has presented them. 

Ohio FFA is well known for being extremely well represented on the big stage and this year is no exception. This year Ohioans participating in the event include finalist for American Star Farmer, a finalist for American Star in Agricultural Placement, 28 top-four proficiency winners, seven chapters being recognized for a National Chapter Award, 37 National Agriscience Fair participants, representation in the National FFA Band, Chorus and Talent Show, a national officer candidate and several hundred more receiving their American FFA Degrees. 

To be recognized at the National FFA Convention & Expo in any capacity is an honor, however, having two members qualify as American Star finalists is a true representation of the strength of agriculture in the state of Ohio. The American Star Awards are tagged as the “best of the best” when it comes to recognition within the organization. It takes many years of dedication, proficiency wins and hard work to even make it to the level of application for the award. From there, four individuals in the nation are selected to compete at national convention.

Zane Hagemeyer, a member of the Elmwood FFA Chapter, will be competing for American Star Farmer. The National FFA Organization explains that, “The American Star Farmer is awarded to the FFA member that demonstrates the top production agriculture supervised agricultural experience in the nation. The member must demonstrate outstanding achievement, active FFA participation and an exemplary scholastic record.”

Jacob Wuebker, a member of the Versailles FFA Chapter, was selected to compete for the American Star in Agricultural Placement award. Similar to the American Star Farmer Award, “The American Star in Agricultural Placement is awarded to the FFA member with the top agricultural placement supervised agricultural experience in the nation. The member must demonstrate outstanding achievement, active FFA participation and an exemplary scholastic record.”

Both Hagemeyer and Wuebker have spent several hundred hours developing their Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE) into the businesses and occupations that they are now for the two of them. 

Hagemeyer’s SAE consisted of raising beef cattle following a method called backgrounding. After first raising cattle using practices he knew about growing up and not earning the profits he hoped to experience, Hagemeyer then began researching other methods, ultimately leading him to backgrounding. 

“I summarize backgrounding as the type of beef production that maximizes the use of forages to transition a calf on the pasture and get them ready for a feedlot setting,” Hagemeyer said. 

For Wuebker, his SAE involves working on his family’s farm in a variety of capacities. He works with all aspects of the diversified grain and livestock farm where they produce hogs, cattle, corn, soybeans and wheat.

“In pig production, I help in our commercial sow operation where I assist with feeding, breeding, processing piglets, barn maintenance, giving vaccinations and I grind most of the feed for our sows as well as our finishing pigs. On the cattle side of things: grinding feed, selecting cattle for market, vaccinating and processing cattle. In terms of crops, I work with all aspects from planting through harvest. Crop scouting, spraying, fertilizer applications and grain hauling,” Wuebker said.

Both Hagemeyer and Wuebker believe the lessons they’ve learned while developing their Supervised Agricultural Experiences are extremely valuable to have as they move into their future endeavors on the farm.

“The best tip I have for younger FFA members is to just do it and jump right into it,” Hagemeyer said. “If you’re passionate about something and you love doing it, then it’ll come easy and success should be there.”

For Wuebker, his advice is to take advantage of the opportunities that come your way in the blue jacket.

“My best piece of advice is to take every opportunity that you’re given and whenever you get that opportunity make sure you give it 110%,” Wuebker said. “Whether it’s within FFA or on the farm, there’s opportunity to make connections as well. You never know where that connection may take you.”

Hagemeyer and Wuebker will learn their results this week during the 95th National FFA Convention & Expo. Tune into Ohio FFA social media channels to follow along with all of Ohio FFA’s successes in Indianapolis.

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