Page 1


SAE Project Lands in Grocery Stores

Rachel Mareth taps food market with hydroponic lettuce FFA member thinks local BY JOANN PIPKIN, EDITOR


t’s been a year since ground was broken on the greenhouse that would become a part of Rachel Mareth’s Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE). Already, the soon-to-be Mount Vernon high school senior FFA member is marketing her hydroponic lettuce in grocery stores across southwest Missouri. “We have been encouraging our students to think more to that “locally-grown” marketing niche,” explains Jason Haymes, Rachel’s FFA advisor. Rachel’s SAE project launched after her dad saw a flyer in a feed store advertising a greenhouse for sale. Ground was broken in May 2012 with the first seeding established in November and first harvest taken in January of this year. Operating under the name 417 Produce LLC as part of her SAE, Rachel’s family’s company initially hoped to market its locally-grown hydroponic lettuce to area restaurants. With assistance from family members, though, she was able to work out a marketing agreement with southwest Missouri-based Pyramid Foods. Pyramid assisted Rachel with packaging and development of a bar code for each of the four varieties of lettuce she grows. The grocery company also assisted with brand development and logo design and now markets the lettuce under the Hydro Harvest label. And it is that packaging that sets Rachel’s locally grown lettuce apart from other selections in the produce section. 417 Produce shipped its first product to Pyramid Foods, which includes Price Cutter markets in Springfield as well as other grocery chains throughout the area, the end of January. Rachel says customer feedback from the 10+ stores that sell her product thus far has been positive.

Mount Vernon FFA member Rachel Mareth grows hydroponic lettuce and markets it through southwest Missouri area grocery stores owned by Pyramid Foods. More than 1,700 plants are harvested each week. —Photo by Joann Pipkin

A busy high school student involved with sports in addition to FFA, Rachel says balancing her business with other activities is one of the most challenging aspects of her project. “I work in the greenhouse every day after softball practice doing seedings and monitoring the nutrient CONT’D ON PAGE E

Table of Contents Page B The President’s Position

Page C

Page F

Paris FFA Wins National Award for Marketing Plan

In their Words

Page G FFA Calendar


THE PRESIDENT’S POSITION Grow Your Love of Agriculture with Your SAE

2011-2012 State FFA Officers Area Officer 1 Ryan Messner Stanberry

2 Samantha Gibson Norborne 3 Rhian Beldon South Shelby 4 Jaelyn Bergmann - President Paris 5 Sonja Perry - Secretary Bowling Green 6 Kenneth Swope Boonville 7 Allyson Smith Crest Ridge 8 Katie Gibson Nichols Career Ctr 9 Sarah Bastin Carthage

10 Cody Stewart Ash Grove 11 Courtney Spencer - 1st V.P. Aurora 12 Ashlee Jones Sparta 13 Mallary Burris Bakersfield 14 Cody Shoop Linn 15 Anna Eftink Bloomfield 16 Sam Turner Bernie 3

Brady James - Past President Knox County

Department of Elem. & Sec. Education P.O. Box 480, Jefferson City, MO 65102 Phone: (573) 751-3544. District Supervisors: Leon Busdieker, Oscar Carter, Keith Dietzschold, Lisa Evans & Steven Rogers Missouri FFA Today • Joann Pipkin, Editor 3674 S. State Hwy N • Republic, MO 65738 Email: Phone: (417) 732-8552




ne of my favorite chores as a youngster was to help Dad feed bottle calves. When it was feeding time, I begged Dad to take me to the barn. I loved petting those baby calves and most times Dad would even let me hold the bottle. As I got older, my trips to the barn became fewer, until the summer after I joined FFA. Dad had to go on a business trip and I was assigned to task of taking care of his lone Jersey bottle calf. It was my responsibility to feed the calf every morning and night. When I checked cows with Papa, he called “Sug, baby, sug” and his cows came running, so I named the calf SugSug, in hopes that he would come running when I called. Sug-Sug met me at the gate at each feeding and followed me everywhere I went. The problem was, by the time Dad returned home I was attached to the cute little Jersey. Dad said if I wanted the responsibility, I could finish raising Sug-Sug and invest in more bottle calves. This was the start of my Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) and my own bottle calf operation, Nanny Jae’s Nursery. One warm summer evening, Sug-Sug experienced how green the grass was on the other side of

the fence when I decided to let him follow me to the water hydrant in the yard. Afterall, he always followed me everywhere I went, right? As soon as we went through the gate he took off like a rodeo bull— jumping, kicking and doing everything but following me. How was I going to get this calf back in? About that time Papa drove by, saw the commotion, and came to my rescue! My SAE has not only provided me many memories, but also has influenced my education and career goals in the agricultural industry. SAE’s are designed to allow FFA members to gain hands-on experiences and develop essential skills through entrepreneurship, placement, research and experimentation, or exploratory projects. I am grateful for the opportunities that are now impacting my life due to my SAE. I encourage you, FFA members, to find an SAE that will develop and grow your love for agriculture.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, or disability in its programs and activities. Inquiries related to Department programs and to the location of services, activities, and facilities that are accessible by persons with disabilities may be directed to the Jefferson State Office Building, Office of the General Counsel, Coordinator – Civil Rights Compliance (Title VI/Title IX/504/ADA/Age Act), 6th Floor, 205 Jefferson Street, P.O. Box 480, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0480; telephone number 573-526-4757 or TTY 800-735-2966; fax number 573-522-4883; email

MARKETING AT THE TOP Paris FFA Takes First in Marketing Contest

Chapter earns cash, trip SUBMITTED BY PARIS FFA


hey say with FFA anything is possible; this was never truer than for members of the Paris FFA Officer team this past December. In April 2012 their advisors challenged them with filling out the Pfizer (now Zoetis) Marketing Contest plan. With the backing of their local veterinarian, Dr. Mac Wilt, the chapter submitted the two-page application. Chapter advisors received national winner notification last August. Grand prize included $2,600 and a trip for four students and one advisor to Pfizer (Zoetis) national headquarters in Madison, N.J., where the students would present their marketing plan. Pfizer Marketing Contest FFA chapters participating in the marketing contest worked with a local veterinarian or animal health supplier on an educational program, producer meeting, open house or other initiative to promote the effective, economic and proper use of cattle and/or equine animal health products. Then, each chapter submitted a plan summary including objectives, descriptions of the process and outcome, and submitted photos and metrics determining their success. For the Paris FFA Chapter, the contest allowed the students an opportunity to work with their local CONTINUED ON PAGE D

Paris FFA members traveled to Pfizer national headquarters in Madison, N.J., as part of their prize for winning the animal health company’s marketing contest plan. Attending were Caitie Nobis, Jill Nobis, Danielle Bounds, Lindsay Link, Meaghan Dye, Austin Nordwald, Britton Francis, and Shelby Dickey. Advisors are Josh Bondy and Stephanie Eckler.


• Agriculture • Construction • Drafting & Design • Industrial Maintenance • Machine Tool • Turf & Landscape Management • Welding Accelerated training programs are available and we accept A+ students!


CONTINUED FROM PAGE C veterinarian and provide a platform to educate and interact with local livestock producers. Paris FFA members participated in the Monroe County Ag Night and Steer Weigh-in

Day to promote Pfizer (Zoetis) Animal Health products. FFA members sought donations to help put on the events. Their local veterinarian, Dr. Wilt, attended and met with potential customers about Pfizer (Zoetis) Animal

Health products. Overall, the chapter was able to reach 350 prospective customers between the two meetings. In addition to the FFA members providing animal health information, local agricultural leaders were able to witness the future of agriculture in action. “The Monroe County Ag Night was a huge success” explained Megan Morgan, local cattle and row crop producer. “It was very motivating to see everyone in the county with the same mindset— improving agriculture.” Trip to the Big Apple: Paris FFA officer team received enough additional funding from the community to send all eight officers and both advisors on the grand prize trip to Pfizer (Zoetis) headquarters. At the home office, FFA members met with Pfizer (Zoetis) Animal Health’s vice president and the executives of the marketing team to present their winning marketing plan and answer questions. The trip included stops at Central Park, The Apollo, numerous museums and skyscrapers, Radio City Music Hall, and Rockefeller Plaza for a visit with the TODAY Show. The journey also included seeing the Empire State Building. EDITOR’S NOTE: Paris FFA encourages all Missouri FFA Chapters to enter the 2013 contest! Pfizer Animal Health has changed its name to Zoetis Animal Health.


Local Lettuce Continued from Page A

Mount Vernon FFA member Rachel Mareth grows four different varieties of lettuce in her hydroponic greenhouse.

tanks,” Rachel notes. Any spare time she finds is spent assembling the crispers which house the bibb lettuce for market as well as handlabeling the crispers and bags for the green and red leaf lettuce. The business employs Rachel’s brother, Levi, as full-time

greenhouse manager. Three parttime workers help with the harvest, which takes place Monday through Wednesday of each week. During that time, Rachel says 1,700-1,800 plants are harvested and delivered to Pyramid Foods distribution warehouse. The company has an exclusive agreement with the Mareth’s for marketing the lettuce. Lettuce seeds arrive at the greenhouse in pellet form. From there, Rachel starts the seedlings— about 200 per flat —and grows them in a “nursery” setting for two

to three weeks before transplanting to the channels to complete the grow cycle. After harvest, channels are cleaned so new seedlings can be transplanted and the cycle repeats. A sensitive crop to grow, Rachel says wide fluctuation in temperature can quickly damage the romaine lettuce, often causing the tips of the plants to burn and leaving them unmarketable. Rachel says the venture has helped her grow both personally and professionally. As she sets her sights on a career in interior design and eventually owning her own business, the marketing skills her SAE has taught her will serve as an invaluable lesson.

Raise your hand The future of agriculture and rural places depends on the competence and confidence of today’s students. You have a part to play, and we want to help. The MFA Foundation helps students achieve their academic goals through scholarships awarded by MFA Incorporated and MFA Oil agencies. Visit



In Their Words Up close with your Missouri State FFA Officers

Cody stewart


am amazed daily at how united the FFA is. We all care about agriculture, wear the same jacket and are progressive leaders. My first glimpse into this reality unification was the Washington Leadership Conference. I went to the conference not knowing what to expect. I only had two goals: to make new friends and learn more about the FFA. When I arrived, my roommates were nice, the facilitators were helpful and everyone was ready to have a good time. It didn’t matter what our background was, that we were from different ends of the country

or how we grew up. We all had the same goals. I met FFA members from Connecticut, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Arizona. I made friends from all walks of life and different backgrounds. In the one week I was at WLC, I learned more about the FFA and myself than I ever thought possible. I made friendships that have lasted throughout the years. My fellow FFA members taught me what it meant to truly serve an organization. They all had the same passion for agriculture and FFA that I had. It was an experience of a lifetime in every sense of the word. FFA members, I challenge you to be willing to have an experience

CODY STEWART State Vice President, Area 10

of a lifetime. Go into every conference, contest, convention and session with an open mind. Set goals for yourself and your teams. Be willing to make new friends and experience new opportunities.


ANNA EFTINK State Vice President, Area 15


AGRICULTURE is part of everything we do! FIND US ONLINE!


hocolate chip cookies have long been my archenemy. My mom has a secret recipe for these cookies, and she will not share it. I can remember sitting in the kitchen watching my momma baking everything from cookies to cakes. She never quite followed the recipe, but everything always turned out perfectly. When I finally got to be old enough to be trusted alone in the kitchen, my mom told me I

FFA Calendar Missouri FFA is on the move

could choose any recipe I wanted. Of course, the first dish that popped into my head was my mother’s famous chocolate chip cookies. Now, these cookies are just about the best thing since sliced bread, and while I’ve been at college, I have legitimately dreamed about them. On the first try, my cookies were absolutely awful. They came out flat and spread out on the pan. It was a miracle in itself that there wasn’t a fire started in the oven. Discouraged, I decided not to bake chocolate chip cookies again until I was asked to specifically. That vow stands to this day. While I may have vowed to not bake chocolate chip cookies, I did fill a lot of my spare time in high school by baking just about everything else. Then, I was introduced to the wonderful world of Pinterest. Believe it or not, just because someone pins a picture of food, does not mean it will turn out the way you hoped. Eventually, I found a food I couldn’t say no to— caramel brownies. These caramel brownies were not just good, they were the best brownies I had ever made, and they were an absolute hit anytime I brought them to a dinner party. After getting involved with a small group of volunteers on campus we started bringing them with us and handing the brownies out to the people we were serving. Just as my mother is known for her chocolate chip cookies, I am known for my brownies. The moral of the story here is that hidden inside each of us is a special niche or talent. What’s yours?

June 3-7

Missouri AgriBusiness Academy Tour—Springfield Area

3-July 12 Missouri FFA Camp Rising Sun—Lake of the Ozarks, Kaiser 4-6

Public Speaking Academy—UCM, Warrensburg


Area Officer Institute—FFA Camp Rising Sun, Kaiser


HYMAX Academy—FFA Camp Rising Sun, Kaiser

JuLY 1

Missouri State Fair Livestock Entries DUE


Missouri ACTE Conference—Springfield


Gold Buckle Extravaganza—Ozark Empire Fair, Springfield

26-8/3 Ozark Empire Fair—Springfield

august 1

The Leadership Adventure—Columbia


The Leadership Adventure—Springfield


Missouri State Fair—Sedalia

Discover the best equipment lineup in Missouri. Stop by Sydenstrickers and test drive a John Deere today! We’ve got all the equipment you need, like Tractors, Mowers, Gators, Commercial Worksite Products, AMS and even STIHL and Honda.

Great Financing Options Are Available

10 Missouri LoCATioNs Your Partner in Growing a Better Tomorrow. Visit us at

Authorized Dealer


Supporting Rural Missouri’s Youth. Because your children are our communities’ future. The seeds of our rural communities’ continued success are being planted by many different people every day. FCS Financial plays a part by providing a grant program for FFA and 4-H, up to $35,000 in scholarships to Missouri high school seniors* and a variety of other sponsorships around the state. Plus, our special youth support programs are here to help you become the next generation of successful rural Missourians. Turn to FCS Financial to learn about special financing programs created for your needs. You represent the future of agriculture, and FCS Financial shares your commitment. We’ll be here for you today, tomorrow and into the future. Call 1-800-444-3276, visit or stop by any FCS Financial office, and let us put our experience to work for you. Experts in rural financing since 1916.

*Scholarship applicants must meet all qualifications in application to be eligible **Grant applicants must be a 4-H club or FFA chapter located in one of the 102 Missouri counties served by FCS Financial. Growing Relationships. Creating Opportunities. is a trademark of FCS Financial, ACA.


MO FFA Today - Summer 2013  

Summer 2013 Issue