September 21, 2015

Winners of Inaugural Ag Champions Contest Announced

Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska FFA Association announce winners of community “agvocate” program

The Nebraska Corn Board (NCB) and Nebraska FFA, with the help of Curt Tomasevicz, spokesman for NCB, are pleased to announce that three Nebraska FFA chapters have proven to be “agvocates” (agricultural advocates) in their local communities and have been selected as winners of the 2015 Inaugural Ag Champions Program.

S-E-M FFA chapter
Amherst FFA Chapter
The 2015 Ag Champions Program Grand Champion was awarded to the Amherst and S-E-M (Sumner-Eddyville-Miller) FFA chapters. The two FFA chapters submitted an advocacy plan together, addressing the concerns consumers have about the beef industry. The schools plan to agvocate for the beef industry through cooking demonstrations at large grocery stores in Kearney and Lexington, Nebraska. They plan to create conversations with urban and non-farm consumers that are removed from the production cycle and help them understand the benefits of beef and the safe production practices that are associated with raising it.

“Between the two FFA chapters, we bring everything from strong production agriculture backgrounds, to non-farm backgrounds,” said Marissa Kegley, student from Amherst FFA Chapter. “Together we will be able to offer all perspectives of agriculture, and hope to bridge the gap between producer and consumers, while educating them about the positive aspects of the beef industry.”

“Our FFA chapter has been trained in the Masters of Beef Advocacy program and many of us also have beef SAE (supervised agricultural experience) projects,” said Jason Line, a student from S-E-M FFA Chapter.  “We have a strong understanding for our industry and are excited to have the opportunity to share our knowledge with those consumers that are asking questions and wonder what goes into beef production.” 

“We are excited to be part of the Ag Champions Program and to having Curt Tomasevicz help us carry out our plan,” added Mekenzie Beattie, a student from S-E-M FFA Chapter. “I look forward to the opportunity to work with Curt and share the many positive aspects of the beef industry to consumers, including the nutritional benefits and the proper management practices that beef producers use.”

Tekamah-Herman FFA chapter. 
The 2015 Ag Champions Program Runner-up was awarded to the Tekamah-Herman FFA chapter. The FFA chapter submitted an advocacy plan that will help create a larger understanding of agriculture in the younger demographic of their local communities.  They plan to start a FFA program / agricultural educational program for the 5th and 6th grade students in their school.

“As our chapter worked to identify an agricultural issue in our local communities, it became clear that over the last few years, we have seen a huge decline of involvement in FFA among the incoming freshman classes,” said Katheryn Gregerson, a student from Tekamah-Herman FFA Chapter. “Since there is no agriculture education available to these students until they enter high-school, we think our agvocacy program will be a great way to introduce the topic to them and build excitement and interest about joining FFA as they enter high school.”

“I think our agvocacy program will be a great way to educate younger students about agriculture and eliminate any misconceptions and myths they might have heard about it,” said Thomas Henning, student from Tekamah-Herman FFA Chapter.  “I’m excited to show the 5th and 6th graders that you don’t have to grow up on a farm to be involved in agriculture and FFA and agvocate for the industry.”

“Once our agvocacy plan takes off and we begin to revitalize our FFA program, we will have the ability to get more involved in our school’s “Teach Ag Day” in the elementary. As a bigger chapter, we will have the capability to help expand the elementary Ag Day beyond the classroom to the farm,” added Gregerson.

Based off the budget of their agvocacy plan, Amherst and S-E-M  FFA chapters will be awarded a $500 grant from the Nebraska Corn Board to complete their agvocacy plan, as well as the opportunity to work with Olympic Gold Medalist, Curt Tomasevicz. Tekamah-Herman FFA Chapter will be awarded a $1,000 grant to complete their plan in their community.

“The Nebraska Corn Board is pleased to provide these schools with the monetary resources needed to implement their advocacy plans in their local communities,” said Emily Thornburg, director of communications at the Nebraska Corn Board. “We look forward to helping these students become engaged as advocates for agriculture in their communities and among their peers and are anxious to see the results of their hard work.”

All Nebraska FFA chapters will be receiving information about the 2016 contest details from the Nebraska State FFA Officers during the fall District EDGE Conferences, but more information will be available here. Deadline for the 2016 Ag Champions Program is December 1, 2015.

More photos of the FFA Chapters are available online (Click here).

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