Kansas Future Farmer, Spring 2023

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ON THE COVER: A Kansas FFA member judges livestock at the State CDE competition. Just under 2,000 members attended this year’s CDEs.


State Officers

Karlie Albright



Aidan Yoho

Emma Kepley



Mackenzie Anderson

State Staff

President Royal Valley

Vice President Russell

Secretary Yates Center

Treasurer Riverton

Reporter Skyline

Sentinel Renwick

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


Peyton Sherron, Spring Hill; Ben Burling, Eudora; Brynn Collier, Jayhawk-Linn; Halle Finnerty, Burlington; Hayley Hines, Paola; Adelle Higbie, West Franklin


Jaren Aurand, Pike Valley; Noah Goss, Ellsworth; Allison Abeldt, Chapman; Kiersten Morgan, Pike Valley; Maddy Krueger, Minneapolis; Abby Porter, Beloit


Jenna DeRouchey, Wamego; Haden Doyle, Jackson Heights; Tyree Figge, Onaga; Olivia Rickel, Royal Valley; Ella Gantz, McLouth; Abby Robinson, Royal Valley


Amelia Jaeger, Hays; Cappi Hoeting, Stockton; Karli Neher, Hays; Kaley Wagner, Smith Center; Kai Cox, Northern Valley; Layton Johnson, Phillipsburg


Sage Toews, Canton-Galva; Payton Ryba, Cheney; Jaymee Renfro-Dubovich, Maize; Brylee Budde, Newton; Lilly Coldren, Buhler; Stetson Shook, Arkansas City


Cecillia Newby, Labette County; Zoe Rhodes, Girard; Ainsley Norton, Girard; Lyle Perrier, Eureka; Morgan Way, Coffeyville; Bryon Fry, Uniontown


Christian Pena, Sublette; Orinn Norris, Lakin; Abigail Zabel, Satanta; Areli Rodriguez, Stanton County; Lincoln Martin, Bucklin; Kyler Sheldon, Kiowa County


State President

With a successful year of Kansas FFA nearing the finish line, my teammates and I have enjoyed celebrating with FFA members at chapter banquets.

I am eager to continue this celebration at the 95th Kansas FFA State Convention on May 30th - June 2nd! As Manhattan fills with blue jackets, members will have the chance to meet new friends, grow as leaders, and seek new ideas for the future.

The energy will be electric as we continue old traditions and start new ones. Whether you are a freshman in high school who will


be joining us for the first time in McCain or a sponsor who makes special moments like these possibile, my teammates and I hope to see you at convention to take part in all the festivities!


This edition of the Kansas FFA Future Farmer is underwritten by Purple Wave Auction. Learn more about Purple Wave Auction at www.purplewave.com.

Last year, over 2,100 Kansas FFA members and guests joined us at the Kansas
Convention, which was a record setting year for attendance!


May 30th through June 2nd, over 2,000 Kansas FFA members, advisors and guests will gather in Manhattan for the 95th Kansas FFA Convention. Let’s explore what opportunities await at convention for us to emerge into our next year in FFA.

“As a whole there is always amazing energy at State FFA Convention; my favorite part is during the sessions when there is music playing, lights flashing, and everyone dancing!”



“Getting the chance to be with over 2,500 of my closest friends is always exciting! Having the chance to serve as a chapter delegate and have your voice heard in making changes within Kansas was also an impactful part as well.”


“My favorite part of convention has to be the atmosphere. There is truly nothing like having the iconic sea of blue around Manhattan for the same purpose! Convention is a time that brings all FFA members together in celebration of a great year!”

“State convention provided me with tons of inspiration and excitement for the next year to come as an FFA member. The time flies by fast so make sure to soak it all in and take lots of pictures to reminisce on!”


“The feeling you get the first time seeing the sea of blue corduroys is a feeling you never forget. When I saw it as a freshman I knew I had a place I could call home and share my passion with other members.”


“My favorite part of convention is having the opportunity to get closer with my chapter. State convention has given me such a fun opportunity to bond with my chapter through sessions, weird places we eat out, and even over how bad our feet hurt.”

Learn more about convention registration and opportunties at www.ksffa.org ‘

Rural with a Capital R

The Roush family share their FFA experiences ahead of speaking at the Kansas FFA Convention.

Upcoming speakers at the Kansas FFA Convention, Emily and Kaden Roush operate R Family Farms and new businesses in Lebanon, Kan., including a grocery store and local farm-totable meat business.

“We’ve grown R Family Farms into a successful business. It was our brain child, and it was built on our backs,” Emily says. “Even though we’ve stumbled and there have been hard times, we’ve always kept plugging forward. Maybe it’s just our entrepreneurial mindsets, but looking back on what we’ve accomplished, we know that it came from hard work and perseverance.”

FFA Influenced

Emily joined FFA as a freshman at Iola High School due to her older sister who had been active in the chapter.

“I quickly grew to love the environment of our ag classroom and FFA chapter and was often the leader of many activities,” Emily says. “I gained a position on our officer team as a sophomore and continued my service through my senior year.”

She found a niche in the Ag Sales CDE to

research products and create sales pitches.

“My SAE was crop production - entrepreneurship,” Emily said. “I guess our SAEs say a lot about the both of us and our future of being entrepreneurs! I was also honored to be the first female from my chapter to obtain the American FFA Degree, something I strived towards with the help and encouragement of my advisor.”

Kaden started in FFA as a freshman at Smith Center. His SAE focused on diversified agriculture entrepreneurship businesses with crops, cattle and the largest area of swine production.

“I was very active in my local chapter which led me to be on the officer team for three years and grow into a district officer for two years,” Kaden said. “I won the state swine entrepreneurship proficiency award as a junior, and went on to become state star farmer as a senior. I excelled in livestock judging and the job interview where I went on to compete in nationals.”

Livestock judging led Kaden to a full ride scholarship at Allen Community College where he met Emily.

Rural Heartland Living

The Roush’s resettled in Lebanon after college.

“We are both active in so many different boards and committees in our small community. I can’t imagine not being involved,” Emily says. “My time leading and participating in FFA helped to shape me into this go-getter, community oriented person. I strive to look for answers outside of the box, not just necessarily cookie cutter solutions.”

Thanks to their time spent in strong youth programming honing a laundry list of character attributes and agriculture-based life skills, they believe that agriculture needs to tell its story.

“If you don’t tell your story, someone else will,” Kaden says. “When we started our own farm in 2015, one of our main goals was forging that

“I guess our SAEs say a lot about the both of us and our future of being entrepreneurs!”
Tyler and Emily pose on their operation with their pet. (Photo courtesy of Kansas Farm Food Connection)

connection directly to the people who consume our products.”

Moving back to rural America has major challenges, but also many positives.

“Eight years later, community members comment on how happy they are to have us as a young family in town,” Emily says. “I’m not sure our doorbell stopped ringing the first year we were here!”

They quickly realized making friends was sometimes hard, and finding things to do could sometimes be even harder.

“To be real honest, in college, I got very spoiled by unlimited dining options, delivery, extensive shopping and an unending list of extra-curricular activities,” Kaden says. “But, I always wanted to move back to Lebanon. You give up those conveniences for a slower pace of life and an opportunity to build community.”

Making a Mark

Putting their personalized stamp on how they want the Lebanon community to move forward, the Roush burn the midnight oil.

“For the first five years, I worked a full-time job for financial security while we worked towards positioning our farming enterprises to be profitable enough to sustain us full time,” Kaden says. “There were a lot of sleepless nights and 4 am arrivals from a pig delivery trip, then woke up to go to the day job.”

In the summer of 2017, a soured business deal turned their business on its end, but from the ashes they found new opportunities working directly with consumers via e-commerce and nationwide shipping.

“We spent the next two years honing our proficiencies there, mostly selling to friends and family, and a small but extremely loyal and routine customer base,” Kaden says. “It allowed us to hit the ground running when the pandemic forced consumers to start sourcing meat alternatively.”

When most farmers were scratching their heads wondering if they could even ship meat in COVID times, the Roush’s had a perfected shipping supply line, a freezer full of inventory and a website with hundreds of orders each week.

“In short, our meat business became an overnight sensation, going from a couple hundred orders a year to a couple hundred orders per week,” Kaden says. “We quickly realized that our garage based e-commerce business wasn’t adequate to handle the volume of orders.”

They began searching for a property in Lebanon for warehousing, dedicated pack stations and potential retail store front.

New Horizons

In 2021, the opportunity to acquire the town’s only grocery store fell in their laps.

“Losing that store, the anchor or the hub of our little community, would mean saying goodbye to the rest of our town,” Emily says. “Neither of us ever imagined we’d own a grocery store. We couldn’t pass it up.”

The couple saved the town’s only access point for food in a 30 mile round trip, and provided an already established retail front to merge their pork business.

A little more than a year into ownership, they secured over a quarter of a million dollars in grant funding and private capital to rehabilitate the rundown infrastructure and erect an adjacent warehouse to accommodate their meat business.

“We took risks and looked forward to the new trends,” Emily says. “We have always tried to be innovative and in most cases it has helped to propel us forward.”

The story-telling and e-commerce of R Family Farms meets a growing need for heritage pork with an actual family and personal story behind the label of “Bringing Berkshire Pork to Your Table Since 2015.”

The Roush’s pose in front of their grocery store, Ladow’s Market. (Photo courtesy of Kansas Living).

Service in the Southeast

The Riverton FFA chapter brings service to their community and receives opportunities in return.

With year-round projects highlighting agriculture’s role in daily life, Riverton thrives in supporting their rural community in southeast Kansas.

“In a small community, being visible is incredibly important,” says Jacob Larison, ag ed instructor and FFA Advisor at Riverton High School for the past 22 years. “If the community is aware of what the chapter is doing, more opportunities will find our members.”

Ongoing and active involvement with the community allows Riverton to bring curriculum and activities to life.

“Looking for opportunities and keeping your eyes open to the needs of the community allows our chapter to identify ways that we can make a difference,” says Larison, who was also raised in the area.

Riverton FFA Chapter has 75 members in grades 9-12.

“Our chapter is awesome, very fun and interactive; and there are different things you can do within the FFA,” says member Karlee McPhail. “I think it’s fun to be able to help out the community. It’s a great aspect of the FFA.”

Meat to the Community

Riverton recently completed a project to raise hogs and donate the products back into the community.

“We purchased the hogs in the fall when they each weighed approximately 25 pounds,” Larison says. “We fed out the hogs until we had gained over 200 pounds each.”

A local meat locker processed the hogs, and the meat from three of them was donated to a local food bank.

“We delivered over 350 lbs of pork chops, sausage, bacon and ground pork,” Larison says.

“Students worked with the hogs regularly to weigh them and learned how to handle the animals. Many worked with hogs for the first time.”

While some FFA chapters tend to rely on the community to support the chapter through fundraisers, Riverton shared that they hope to continually give support back.

“Knowing they were going to feed people was a huge plus,” says McPhail. “We raised the pigs and got them fattened up to go to food boxes for people who are not as fourtate.”

Service is Elementary

Each spring, Riverton students work with preschool students to learn about eggs and chicks. FFA members also completed a planting activity in the greenhouse for elementary students.

“We taught them how to transplant geraniums and sent each of them home with a plant,” Larison says.

Riverton has worked for two years to make improvements to the school’s playground and received a National FFA Living to Serve grant to invest in the project.

Riverton FFA members pose with their packaged meat products which were raised by the chapter and then donated to those in need in their community. (Photo courtesy of Riverton FFA)

“We also adopted 10 elementary students this year at Christmas time and spent over $1,000 on toys and clothing for them,” Larison says.

Recently, the first-year members worked with 4th grade students to teach ag literacy as it relates to the dairy industry.

“It is important that FFA is involved in the community since agriculture is a huge industry,” McPhail says. “Without FFA and agriculture, people wouldn’t have food or know the ways to grow crops.”

“These different experiences all allow our members to get involved in something that is real and makes a difference to others,” Larison says. “Doing so brings life to their school day.”

Larison reflected his pride in seeing former members taking on various roles in the community.

“While we perform community service primarily for the instant impact of the event, it is rewarding to see that our members take those experiences with them and make a difference as adults,” Larison says.

Creating a Junction

Junction City Agricultural Education teacher and FFA advisor, Laura Miller, felt a little scared when she was hired to build a Career and Technical Education program, especially since there had not been one before. What she has accomplished in those past eight years is unique.

Miller loves that the school has a big city feel, but then glancing out the window, you see pasture and farmland. Junction City High School houses over 1,400 students, but was recently built outside of their town, surrounded by pastures. “Geary County has a strong agricultural presence and it made sense to add agricultural classes into the mix” notes Miller.

Once classes were formed, word of mouth was the best way to get the students to sign up. Animal Science and Natural Resources were added the first year, with other classes to follow. Since then, there has been a large growth in numbers. The FFA chapter started out with just 20 members and has grown to 67. The students are very community involved with local groups, such as Farm Bureau.

Between the increased number of students in the classroom, as well as seeing her members excel in FFA by attending competitions and winning awards, scholarships, and qualifying for national competitions, Miller is proud of her program. A second teacher will be added to the program this

upcoming year, as well as a new greenhouse.

It is because of her passion for students and agriculture that it was no surprise that she was named the KAAE Teacher of the Year. When you work as hard as Mrs. Miller does, and love something so much, it makes the job worth the while and being recognized for that hard work is just one of the perks. It is because of that honor that Miller continues to seek out ways to improve her teaching and bring new ideas into her classroom.

For teachers who are beginning to form their program, Miller’s biggest piece of advice would be that you must like the school that you are at. Find a place that fits you, that supports your ideas and goals, a place where you know your talents will be appreciated and used. Never be afraid to think big and ask for it.

Agricultural Education teacher Laura Miller builds a program in one of the state’s largest high schools. Story by Amy Feigley Laura Miller poses with her students at Chapter Leadership Training.
CONNECT digitally 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 Kansas FFA Association 110 Umberger Hall 1612 Claflin Road Manhattan, KS 66506 Give to the Kansas FFA Foundation by scanning the QR code above! OUR YOUTH. OUR FUTURE. OUR KANSAS FFA. Endowment+ Campaign Kansas FFA is on the “grow” with nearly 13,000 members statewide! Help the Kansas FFA Foundation to raise $5 million dollars to ensure the stability and responsible growth of the Kansas FFA for years to come. Scan Now to Give or Learn More About the Campaign
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