Pictured above: 2022-2023 Ohio FFA State President, Aubrey Schwartz; Sunrise Cooperative CEO/President, George Secor; Rise FFA Program Truck Recipient, Bryce Parsons. Photo provided by Linde’s Livestock Photography.

RISE FFA Career Program grows student success

By Morgan Anderson, OCJ FFA Reporter

At the 95th Ohio FFA Convention in May, Sunrise Cooperative announced its 2023 class of new hires to its RISE FFA Career Program. Following the application process, Sunrise hired 11 graduating seniors as full-time employees. Each of the students’ home chapters received a $250 grant to help enhance their local program. Sunrise is an agricultural and energy cooperative with locations across Ohio.

Here is this year’s crop of students who will be joining Sunrise University:

  • Antonia Lucio (Clyde)
  • Zoe Gifford (Firelands)
  • Bryce Parsons (Hillsboro)
  • Megan Kimbler (Indian Lake-OHP)
  • Luke Brunke (Miami East-MVCTC)
  • Troy Homan (New Bremen)
  • Grace Montgomery (New London)
  • Gage Lauderman (South Central)
  • Derick Murray (South Central)
  • Abraham Decker (Upper Scioto Valley-OHP)
  • Cayden Wood (Fremont Ross)

Of those 11, Bryce Parsons was selected to receive $1,000 for his chapter and a 2021 Jeep Gladiator truck as a signing bonus in addition to his full-time employment benefits.

Bryce smiles with his new 2021 Jeep Gladiator truck that was staged at the 95th Ohio FFA Convention & Expo. Photo provided by Sunrise Cooperative.

Parsons’ position is a four-year commitment. In his first two years, he will spend his time rotating between the different divisions of agronomy, grain and energy, as well as learning about Sunrise. Afterward, he will then be evaluated and placed into a position based on his interest and expertise for the remaining two years. At the end of his four years, Parsons’ performance will be evaluated to determine his next steps at Sunrise upon completing the program.

Parsons is a 2023 graduate of Hillsboro High School who grew up working on various livestock operations, such as cattle and goats. Growing up, he showed pigs through 4-H and was active in his FFA chapter.

To get into the program, Parsons said he had to apply for the job and go through a couple of interview rounds. After being announced as a RISE FFA Career Program recipient and the program’s sole truck recipient, Parsons said he owes it all to his FFA chapter.

“The FFA has done a lot for me. It’s what showed me this job,” Parsons said. “With my chapter, I toured Sunrise and they told us about all of their jobs. I told myself that I just can’t pass up this opportunity, so I give my FFA chapter all the credit for why I have this job.”

Parsons is still in his orientation stage at Sunrise, but he said he is most excited for what is to come while he is there.

“If I’m completely honest, I think I’m most excited about learning all the new things here. I feel like at Sunrise there’s a lot of opportunity, so I want to learn everything I can and keep my doors open to everything in their company,” Parsons said.

Learning in the RISE FFA Career Program looks like something new every day. From grain marketing to working with bulk oil and propane, Sunrise offers its new hires a formative experience working in the agricultural sector.

Parsons is driven to succeed during his time at Sunrise.

“My two biggest goals are to get a job where I can deliver propane and be an applicator at the same time, and then my biggest goal is to be a branch manager one day,” he said.

The Hillsboro FFA Chapter, and its advisors, Brian Cummings and Libby McNeal, with their $1,000 grant check presented by George Secor on behalf of Sunrise Cooperative. Photo provided by Sunrise Cooperative.

The RISE FFA Career Program was established in 2020 and has been in full swing ever since. The program works to support graduating seniors who are interested in entering the workforce after high school.

“I decided to pursue this opportunity because Sunrise has great opportunities,” Parsons said. “I’ve been around agriculture my whole life and I just felt like I fit in.”

Parsons said he was excited to receive the truck and the opportunity has been a dream come true.

Working in tandem with Ohio FFA, the program also supports the Ohio FFA State President during their year of service. Before the truck was presented to Parsons, Aubrey Schwartz, the 2022-2023 State President, drove the truck across the state as she served Ohio FFA’s 28,000 members.

For students who are interested in the RISE FFA Career Program, the application will open for the 2024 graduating seniors in September. To apply, quality students must be an Ohio high school graduate and an active member of an Ohio FFA chapter. For more information about the program, visit sunriseco-op.com or the Ohio FFA website at ohioffa.org.

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