Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Fentanez Sings His Heart Out in FFA

Fentanez Sings His Heart Out in FFA
By Guest Blogger, Shelby Kuechle from the Eden Valley Watkins FFA Chapter

FFA really does have something for everyone, agriculture related or not. For Ruben Fentanez, FFA offers him the opportunity to participate in the choir at both state and national levels. Fentanez is 17 years old and is an active member of the Mountain Lake FFA Chapter.

Fentanez joined FFA in 9th grade, when his advisor, Lindsey Brown, highly encouraged him to become a member. He started out participating in the Nursery Landscape Career Development Event (CDE) and will be applying for a chapter officer in the upcoming year. The Mountain Lake FFA Chapter has about 130 members, with about 60 active members, who do many activities. FFA brings kids from all walks of life together.

“Our chapter is very diverse from the local farm kids to kids like me who have lived in town their whole life,” said Ruben. “I didn’t have very much agricultural background until 9th grade when I joined FFA.”

Ruben with the
Minnesota FFA Choir
Fentanez has always been a musical guy and jumped right onto the opportunity of State FFA Choir. He, along with a few friends from the chapter, decided they wanted to give it a try and haven’t looked back since.

Joining state choir involves sending in an application and having a music teacher recommend the student. If the student is selected, they are able to perform at State Convention awards, etc.

National choir is a little more difficult to get accepted into, but in Ruben’s words, “It’s totally worth it.” Along with the application and recommendation, the student must send in an audition.

“I joined to sing my heart out, but my favorite part was being able to meet new people and create new friendships,” said Ruben. “State choir was really fun, but it doesn’t compare to National FFA Choir. That’s where I absolutely fell in love with FFA choir."

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

ACGC Member Commits to Ten Year Research Project

ACGC Member Commits to Ten Year Research Project
by Guest Blogger, Emily Pliscott of Kenyon Wanamingo 

When most freshmen are asked what they’ll be doing in 10 years, the answer is uncertain. For Daniel Williamson of the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City, this is not the case. In 10 years, he will be nearing the completion of the SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience) that he’s starting in his first year of high school.

How is this student so ahead of the game? Plans like Williamson’s could only come from one place-something those of us involved in agricultural education call the three circle model. The perfect balance of classroom learning, leadership development through FFA, and hands on experiences with SAE s steer Ag Ed students onto paths toward success.

For Williamson, this perfect mixture is helping the pursuit of his passions. Taking agriculture classes at Atwater-Cosmos-Grove city provides him with the knowledge needed to apply science, math, and other core classes to real-life situations. His activity in FFA helps this shining Greenhand grow in a different way. Working to attain leadership skills that will last his lifetime, Williamson is currently serving as the Chaplain on his officer team. Developing a talent for advocation, he thoroughly enjoys sharing about agriculture through chapter activities like annual parades and petting zoos. Williamson also began several SAE programs, where hands on learning rounds out the three circle model of agriculture education.

Daniel collected water samples
weekly to test for clarity/turbidity.
This bright student’s passion for keeping waterways clean is one that stems from the practices on his family farm. Williamson claims that his family puts a huge importance on water quality, and bases his Supervised Agricultural Experience off of this value. Searching for an outlet to explore his interest in water, Williamson decided to begin long term experiments that will help keep water clean for future generations.

Williamson has several projects dealing with water conservation. One of these is collecting water from a field drainage ditch near his family’s farm. He is working in his watershed district to test for nitrate in water, sending samples to a lab in Detroit. When he receives the data analyzed in the lab, he will use this information to determine the best farming practices for his area.

Daniel collected water samples to be
tested for phosphates and nitrates.
Recently, Williamson partnered with his local conservation office to begin a second project that will have a duration of approximately 10 years. This deals with the creation of floating wetlands, where Williamson buries a spongy material in the ground of wetland areas. He then places native plants in this spongy soil medium which is ideal for their growth. The plants take in chemicals such as nitrate from the water and help clean up waterways.

When asked which phrase would describe his project, Williamson orients on the future, saying that his experiment “needs some results.” He’s excited to seek comparisons of data and figure a way to improve water quality and establish cleaner farming practices. With this forward looking approach, this shining Greenhand will go far in both FFA and water conservation. Agriculture students like Daniel Williamson are a harbinger for a bright continuance of the positive traditions in American agriculture.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

He’s Got Your Goat

He’s Got Your Goat
By: Guest Blogger, Kylee Kohls, Litchfield FFA  

Hearing, “Congratulations to Matthew Schoenbauer with his Grand Champion Doe here at the 2015 Minnesota State FFA Goat Show!” makes Matthew’s day, knowing all the hard work he has put into his goat project was worth it.

Colton, Matthew's herd sire,
here at 1 year old.
Matthew Schoenbauer, of the Southwest Metro FFA Chapter, started working on his Goat SAE in 2014 when he won two market wethers at the Scott County Fair. After exhibiting at the 2014 Minnesota State Fair, he decided he wanted to stay in the Boer goat project, purchased does, and started Triple M Boer Goat Ranch in New Prague, MN. One year later, he had successfully grown his herd to 60 kidding does.

He prides himself on the current and trendy genetics he uses in his herd. In 2015, Matthew purchased Colton, a stud buck, from Breezy Acres Boer Goats in Fairmont, MN. About half of his herd is purebred Boer, a third being percentage Boer goats, and the rest being commercial goats. About three-fourths of his herd is also registered with the American Boer Goat Association.

“For me, kidding is the hardest part. Especially with the winter we had last year. It’s always so hard losing the kids that you were so excited to see because you’ve been planning for that ‘great one’ all year,” said Matthew when I asked him what his least favorite part about his SAE is. Triple M Boer Goats kids a few does in the fall months, but the majority of the kidding occurs January through April. He spreads out his kidding season for different ages of kids; the fall kids hoping to be does for Senior Does for the State Fair and the winter/spring kids for market wethers and Junior Does.

Matthew sells his show quality stock private treaty to a few other 4-H and FFA members he knows in his area and consigns a few to the Jackson County 4-H Sheep and Goat Sale for youth in the goat show circuit.
Matthew with his 2015 FFA Champion Doe
and Overall Champion Market Goat

“Showing is my favorite part,” said Matthew. Seeing his dedication and long days and nights in the barn all come to fruition in the show ring is what gives him the drive to move forward in the goat project. The 2015 MN State FFA Show was gratifying for Matthew as he received Grand Champion Doe and Reserve Champion Overall Wether with goats he raised - with his genetics.

Although, he wouldn’t be where he is today without all the mentors involved in helping him with his Boer Goat project; Breezy Acres Boer Goats from Fairmont, MN and a friend in Iowa have been Matthew’s biggest supporters and mentors throughout the last couple of years. Because of the strong mentoring aspect Matthew has received, he strives to portray a strong mentoring aspect when he works with other youth in the goat project. Matthew loves meeting new people and helping other kids learn what this project is all about. Matthew wants to continue the Triple M Boer Goat Ranch, hopefully one day being the number one breeder in the state, but more importantly being a good mentor for other 4-H and FFA members, enjoying his time spent with other youth in the goat project.
Matthew proudly stands with his
FFA Advisor and mentor, Mr. Stone, with his awards.

Another mentor, Mr. Mark Stone - his FFA Advisor, has had a large impact on Matthew’s life and project. As a result of Mr. Stone and his mentorship, Matthew will be receiving his State Degree at the 2016 MN FFA State Convention!   

Congratulations Matthew on your success in the Boer Goat project and good luck in your future endeavors!