Kansas Future Farmer - Winter 2022

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WINTER 2022 Inside: • National FFA Week History • Southwest Kansas Ag Teacher Builds Program • Members Respond to Recent Wildfires • Nationally Recognized Kansas FFA Chapter

ON THE COVER: The 2021-22 State Officer team huddle in front of Anderson Hall on the campus of Kansas State University. WINTER 2022 State Officers Ashley Chandler

President Neodesha

Rachel Sebesta

Vice President Ellsworth

Eric Peterson

Secretary Clifton-Clyde

Jocelyn Dvorak

Treasurer Hiawatha

Lydia Watanabe

Reporter Arkansas City

Josey Schmidt

Sentinel Greeley County

State Staff Mr. Guy Shoulders State Advisor, KSDE Ms. Mary Kane State Executive Secretary Ms. Beth Gaines Kansas FFA Foundation Executive Director Mrs. Johanna Anderes Kansas FFA Foundation Development Coordinator

District Officers EAST CENTRAL Cody Loganbill, Eudora; Taylor Hadl, Eudora; Peyton Sherron, Spinrg Hill; Seth Aistrup, Paola; Halle Finerty, Burlington; Carissa Dalquest, Council Grove NORTH CENTRAL Weston Schrader, Minneapolis; Reece Geer, Clay Center; Shelby Siebold, Clay Center; Natalee Bray, Pike Valley; Kiersten Morgan, Pike Valley; August Hulse, Minneapolis NORTHEAST Joey Marten, Onaga; Karlie Albright, Royal Valley; Ella Gantz, McLouth; Kaylee Lukert, St. Marys; Tyree Figge, Onaga; Jenna DeRouchey, Wamego NORTHWEST Kirsten Kyger, Russell; Karli Neher, Hays; Bethany Rother, Weskan; Kaley Wagner, Smith Center; Cappi Hoelting, Stockton; Amelia Jaeger, Hays SOUTH CENTRAL Cali Newdigger, Skyline; Mackenzie Anderson, Renwick, Aaron Blagg, Udall, Kyce Morgan, Arkansas City, Sage Toews, Canton-Galva, Mickelly Soyex, Marion-Florence SOUTHEAST Aidan Yoho, Yates Center; Emma Duff, Erie; Emma Kepley, Riverton; Gwen Fry, Uniontown; Zoe Rhodes, Girard; Carly Dreher, Iola SOUTHWEST Alec Walton, Stanton County; Payton Walk, Greeley County; Areli Rodriguez, Stanton County; Grant Theurer, South Central; Paisley Palmer, Satanta; Christian Pena, Sublette

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES Mr. Anthony Meals, Blue Valley Agriculture Instructor


e are fast approaching a cherished FFA tradition: National FFA Week. Yet, we may have asked, what are its roots in Kansas FFA history and why did it come about in February? According to research by Dr. Gary Moore, National FFA Week started rather as National FFA Day. This day was proposed and accepted during the 6th National FFA Convention in 1933. The date fluctuated several days each year during the spring months till in 1938 the FFA Board of Trustees permanently moved National FFA Day to one of the days of National FFA Convention. In the late 1940’s we begin to see the cropping up of Future Farmer Weeks in several states

across the nation. The FFA Board of Trustees officially declared a National FFA Week to begin in1948 from February 21 – 27 in recognition of celebrated agriculturist, George Washington, whose birthday landed in that week. Kansas FFA officially adopted the celebration of National FFA Week in 1949. This tradition has been used as a means of celebrating the efforts in helping prepare the future agricultural leaders through FFA. What are the traditions our chapters and communities celebrate during National FFA Week? How can we use these celebrations for the advancement of agricultural literacy and advocacy? Best of luck with your National FFA Week events!

From the President's Station Ashley Chandler, State President


he fall semester was certainly busy and exciting for all our members. From participating in new competitions, to attending the in-person National FFA Convention and Expo, our members’ fall semester was certainly full of moments for the memory book. Now as we look forward to

springtime, we are excited for the new adventures that await all of us as members. Whether members are searching for leadership enrichment, service opportunities, or new relationships with others, the spring semester holds promise for each of us. Let’s take this time in the new year to challenge ourselves to seek out what opportunities FFA holds for us.

paving the way Kelly Sipes, a teacher in the Southwest portion of the state explains her route to agricultural education and the beginning of a new program Story by Lucas Shivers


hartering an agricultural education program and new FFA chapter in Stanton County, Kelly Sipes broke ground in Johnson, KS near the southwest corner of the state. I always look forward to seeing the excitement of students as they start finding their place and niche in FFA,” says Sipes. “When a student gets excited about a topic and goes beyond my expectations, that is what keeps me excited for things to come.”

A Strong Start As the new program took off, the whole community in Stanton County USD 452 rallied to build a premier chapter. “Our community was the driving force to starting our chapter,” says Sipes. “They worked hard for two years, starting in 2014, before the program was approved for the 2016-17 school year.” Agriculture serves as the primary industry in the rural community, thus the agricultural education program was well received and supported by students, staff, parents and community members. “I have been amazed at how much support we continue to receive,” says Sipes. “Initially, we did a survey to find out the interests of our students and listed descriptions of possible classes that could be offered as part of the program. This helped guide our pathway choice of Comprehensive Agriculture.” The overwhelming response of students’ desire for agriculture classes prompted the Board of Education to approve the program in spring of 2016. “When our board approved our program, the stipulation was to not hire a new teacher,” says Sipes. “So I jumped at the opportunity to take it on. With my agriculture background, I had been an active FFA member, past Tennessee State FFA

Officer and American FFA Degree recipient. It was a perfect fit for me.”

“Watching my students see success and learn life lessons along the way is what I look forward to.” - Kelly Sipes Drawing in the Best Stanton County students flocked to agricultural education and FFA. “Visibility is the most important recruitment tool for a program,” says Sipes. “Members were seen doing positive things in the classroom, school and community, thus recruitment was easy because students tend to want to be a part of something that they see doing great things.” Current membership numbers fluctuate annually due to class scheduling against required classes, teacher shortages and a small school setting. “The growth we try to concentrate on is each member’s personal growth and success,” says Sipes. “Building leaders of the future and developing good humans is our primary focus and what drives us each day. The number of members is far less valuable to our program than the quality of the members that are willing to work for the good of the group.”

Teacher Background With background degrees in animal science and grain science, she said she never thought she would be a teacher. “Marrying my husband, Jim, a farmer from southwest Kansas, and moving to the area in 1995, I started working for the school district almost 22 years ago, but this is only my 12th year teaching.” Completing the Transition to Teaching Program through Fort Hays State University, Sipes started teaching junior high science in the 2010-11 school year, added her family and consumer science and English as a second language certification and began teaching agricultural education six years ago. “I had always been disappointed that my own children would not have the opportunity to experience FFA as I had,” says Sipes. “My son, Caleb, was one of the ones fighting to get the program started but graduated before it was approved. My daughter, Bailey, was a freshman our first year as a chapter and was able to take advantage of the many opportunities that FFA offers. It is so rewarding to be able to see all my students write their own FFA story.”

Belonging for All Focusing on an inclusive culture, the program draws a large number of Hispanic members with English as a second language. “This does provide for unique opportunities for

Mrs. Sipes and Mrs. Andi Christenson with students at the 94th National FFA Convention and Expo, including Stanton County’s first American Degree recipient. (Photo courtesy of Stanton County FFA) all of our members,” says Sipes. “When we hold our ‘Teach Ag Day’ for elementary students, we always have members that can communicate with our elementary students that speak little to no English to approach a topic that provides a learning opportunity for both the FFA members and elementary school students.” The diversity and equity efforts are often noted with impacts at larger levels. “Our members have noticed that they are in the minority when it comes to statewide FFA events or national convention and expo,” says Sipes. “We try to stress to them that they are paving the way for all students to feel a part of something bigger than themselves or our chapter. They are always serving as an example and role model and need to take that responsibility seriously and continue to strive to meet their goals.”

INTERESTED IN TEACHING AG? Agriculture teachers never have the same day twice! You can find them in a classroom or laboratory, visiting students in the field, preparing teams for an FFA event, or leading a community service activity with their FFA Chapter. They serve an essential role in their school and community. However, demand for agriculture teachers is much higher than the current and projected supply. To learn more, visit ksffa.org/teach-ag-ed/

This edition of the Kansas FFA Future Farmer is underwritten by Frontier Farm Credit. Learn more about Frontier Farm Credit at www.frontierfarmcredit.com.

A rancher BAR none A former FFA member uses his experiences from agricultural education to continue expanding his beef cattle operation. Story by Lucas Shivers, photos from Ethan Dickerson


than Dickerson’s family operation, Bar S Ranch is becoming one of the most technically advanced operations in Kansas thanks to his background with FFA. “I envision following in my grandfather’s footsteps over the next few years, trying to stay at the forefront of the industry using the newest technology and making decisions to continue the Bar S Ranch legacy the next 100 years,” Dickerson says. Born and raised on the family’s ranch south of Paradise, a small town northeast of Hays, Dickerson attended Natoma High School from 2015-2019. “I did sports and was heavily involved in nearly everything,” Dickerson says. “Where I found the most pride and fullness was around cattle and ranching, so I spent a good deal of time in the ag building.” Under the leadership of Jeremy Long at the Natoma FFA Chapter, Dickerson was highly involved, specifically with his Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) program in beef production where he earned Star Farmer of Kansas and was named a national proficiency award finalist. “Mr. Long was one of the greatest ag teachers in the area and state,” Dickerson says.

“He pushed me to document my cattle and business through FFA records.” Last spring, Dickerson finished at Butler Community College. He started this summer in the sandhills of Nebraska with a cattle ranching operation. “I had the opportunity to work at one of the most successful cattle operations in the state,” Dickerson says. “I have been taking on more roles than ever in the last five months.“ Long term, he hopes to return to Kansas to continue the family ranching operation dating back generations. Gradually adding select females to the cowherd to stay genetically relevant and built for the future, Dickerson tries to stay a step ahead of the industry by using all technology possible. “Recently I acquired genetics on the first ever gene-edited bull,” Dickerson says. “His genes were edited from homozygous black to homozygous red and also from dominant black to dominant red.” Along with the new technologies, the people of the beef industry and mentors encourage and guide Dickerson into the future. “Some of the most gifted cattlemen in the industry have shared with me their thoughts, ideas and experiences, all of which I am forever grateful.”

Ethan and his family were victims of the December Four County Fire. For information on how to assist all those affected by recent disasters, visit: agriculture.ks.gov/newsevents/kansas-wildfire-recovery -resources-december-2021


Story by Rachel Sebesta, State Vice President


ollowing severe storms and wildfires on Dec. 15th 2021, several FFA members and agriculturist’s operations were damaged or lost entirely. Around the state, chapters and members are answering the call for help. “We wanted to do more than just donate supplies,” said North Central District Vice President Reece Geer. Through connections of their district officer team, the North Central District was able to find a rancher who needed help tearing down fence. On December 21st, a group headed west with 18 members ready to work, trailers full of fencing supplies, and machinery to get the job done. “The wildfire victims needed immediate help. Our team was ready to assist in anyway we could and had the perfect opportunity over Christmas break,” added NCD president Weston Schrader, who drove one of the trailers to help the ranchers affected. Four hours away, in Southeast Kansas, Neodesha FFA members learned of the struggles farmers and ranchers were facing, so they approached their advisor, Ms. Emma Lehmann. “My students were adamant to help ‘their agriculture industry family’ in any way possible, so I started

making calls to people I knew,” said Ms. Lehmann, who eventually made contact with a friend who suffered devastating losses. Following discussions among their officer team, Neodesha FFA decided to travel to Paradise, Kansas January 8th and 9th to help ranchers get back on their feet and began advertising their efforts to the community. Expecting just a few responses and a trailer of supplies to make the long drive, they soon found themselves overwhelmed with an army of people willing to donate supplies, equipment, clothes, food, and time. At the time this article was written, Neodesha FFA has collected 800 metal t-posts, several rolls of barbed wire, gloves, and were able to get their local Tractor Supply and Orscheln to donate extra supplies. And their efforts keep growing in size, following a $1,200 donation from Helping Hands and a newspaper column interview. FFA chapters from across the state have donated time, money, and resources to help the victims, but there still remains much for these farmers and ranchers to do. It can take years to recover from events such as these. As NCD vice president Reece Geer declared, “Not everyone can donate supplies, but most can donate their time to help with the hands-on work.”

THE FOUNDATIONCorner Halley Nett, Kansas FFA Foundation Board Chairman


t brings me great pride to represent the Kansas FFA Foundation as the new chair. Growing up in Nebraska on a small farm with corn, soybeans, and cattle, I have always had a strong love for Agriculture. Participating in FFA events throughout high school is one of my fondest memories. My Dad was always amazed that we could drive across the state and I could name a person from so many towns due to my networking at State FFA Convention. After graduating with my Associate of Applied Science Degree in Agribusiness from Southeast Community College in Nebraska, I earned my bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Communications from Kansas State as a proud Wildcat! I then began my career with Cargill Protein, and I’ve

been fortunate to have had multiple roles over my 15 years. The Foundation is tasked with raising funds that support member growth opportunities and award recognition as well as scholarships and grants for agriculture educators to help them grow their teachingskills. We appreciate the hundreds of individuals and companies in Kansas and beyond that help make those awards possible with their financial support. I am blessed to be part of an amazing board and look forward to the future success as we continue to grow in our great state.

A Premier partnership

A rural Kansas community and their FFA chapter have crafted a national award winning program. Story by Amy Feigley


ural Kansas communities often brag about the quality and strong character of the students they are developing, but in Ellsworth, Kansas, the entire community is praising the student-community partnerships that the Ellsworth FFA Chapter have created in order to foster growth in members and their school. Their advisor, Karl Dawn Stover, has every right to brag when it comes to her students. Not only do they involve other students at Ellsworth High School in an array of chapter activities, but they reach out and involve their community, too. “Our students depend on this community and consider them to be one of their biggest partners”, notes Stover.

The chapter also donates to the local food pantry, has a community pancake feed, and strengthens agriculture in their youth by teaching agriculture lessons each month to grade school students. The rural community of Ellsworth works together to support one another in many aspects of their everyday lives. The FFA chapter is developing the future of agriculture while actively playing a role in the support of their classmates, neighbors and families. Whether the FFA members are out and about in the community or in the classroom, Mrs. Stover is proud of her chapter, what they have accomplished now and what they will accomplish in the future for these students are learning to do, doing to learn, earning to live and living to serve.

Completing community service events throughout the year is just one way that Ellsworth FFA Chapter members show their love and support for the people who love and support them back. The chapter was recently recognized at national level as a National FFA Premier Chapter Awards finalist, something that they have been working towards for years by building their membership and being involved in their community as much as they can. Chapter President Nicole Haase was so ecstatic of the honor, highlighting that it showed how everyone, young and old, worked together to get the chapter where they are today. Ellsworth FFA is involved in as many as community events as possible. A staple of their support is their Pink Out Week activities in which a silent auction is held with the proceeds going to benefit the local cancer fund, helping to cover costs for members throughout the community who are battling cancer. The Gifts for Grandma program is also something members are proud of. Haase said the chapter members are happy to give back to the community that has given so much to them.

Ellsworth FFA chapter members pose with their national award at the 94th National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo courtesy of Ellsworth FFA)

Kansas FFA Association 108 Umberger Hall 1612 Claflin Road Manhattan, KS 66506

STEP UP TO THE PLATE Jocelyn Dvorak, State Treasurer


iving to serve comes in many different forms. Through FFA, I have had many opportunities to serve my chapter, community, and organization through activities like food drives, my SAE, and even posting on social media to spread knowledge about agriculture. My favorite of these opportunities while wearing my blue jacket was serving as an officer. Running for and serving as an officer is an amazing experience, whether it be at the chapter, district, or state level. Not only did I get to learn new skills that will help me in many aspects of my life in school, I now also get to reach members of both FFA and my community, and do so with the rest of my officer team. Like every opportunity, there may be challenges during service, however, being an officer at all levels have been some of the best decisions I have ever made. Even if I hadn’t

received one of those offices, the chance to grow alongside friends was truly a great learning experience that enriched my skill set for life. The amount of sheer joy and fun state office can be is also a notable experience for anyone graduating this spring or currently in college. The opportunity to make so many new friendships, and have some of the greatest moments of service as an FFA officer is something everyone should consider. So as the new semester starts and local, district, and state officer applications become available, think to yourself what you could learn, experience, and bring to the table as an officer for our association. Here is to living to serve!

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See our website (www.ksffa.org) for more information on the following: Calendar of Events List of Chapters and Districts List of Foundation Sponsors Awards Programs

Give to the Kansas FFA Foundation by scanning the QR code above!

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