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FFA TODAY Contents A B C E J N O

Why teach ag president’s perspective Food Insecurity service day alumni spotlight digging deep blue jacket brief fighting failure



may 29-JUNE 1: LEAD Conferences for Chapter Officers (8 locations) june 4-8: Missouri AgriBusiness Academy Tour, St. Louis area

Why teachAg?


gricultural education teachers share a common passion — to teach students about the importance of agriculture and see their students succeed. Even though some instructors have years of experience and others are just starting their careers, agricultural educators understand their importance. They embrace the reality of a nationwide shortage of agricultural educators and know that more people need to consider agricultural education as a career.

Jarred Sayre, agricultural education instructor at Milan High School, has been teaching for 22 years. Sayre wants to instill hard work, dedication, and a passion for agriculture in his students. “Agriculture education is so important because as a society we are growing further away from the farm,” Sayre said. “We live in a society that does not understand where our food comes from, the steps it takes to get it to the store,

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junE 4-JulY 13: Missouri FFA Camp Rising Sun, Kaiser june 5-7: Public Speaking Academy, University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg Jason Dieckhoff shares his love for agriculture with his students. He challenges them to realize the importance it has on our society and shows them what they can learn to apply toward the next chapter of their lives.

June 8-9: Area Officer Institute, FFA Camp Rising Sun, Kaiser june 15-17: HYMAX Academy, FFA Camp Rising Sun, Kaiser june 26-28: HYPE Academy, University of Missouri, Columbia august 9-19: Missouri State Fair, Sedalia



2017-18 State ffa officers Officer • Chapter Abigail Bertz • Odessa President Mariah Fox • Trenton 1st Vice President Sydnee Mason • Marshall Secretary Vice Presidents Dakota Allen • Fairfax Elise Bailey • Bowling Green Justin Belew • Ashland Emily Blaue • Wellsville Elizabeth Knipp • Tipton Chad Laxton • Miller Isabel Legg • Perryville Ben Luebbering • Fatima Aaron Mott • Columbia Rhiannen Schneider • Savannah Abby Turner • Brookfield Chance Wallace • Seneca Madelyn Warren • Chillicothe Past State President Colton Spencer • Aurora Department of Elem. & Sec. Education P.O. Box 480, Jefferson City, MO 65102 Phone: (573) 751-3544. District Supervisors: Leon Busdieker, Marie Davis, Keith Dietzschold, Lisa Evans, David Higgins & Steven Rogers

President’s Perspective


ise. Rise to the challenge. Rise to the occasion. Rise above adversity. Rise up. Rise is what we make it —malleable to take on different forms yet formable to fit the need. With this theme set by the 2017-18 Missouri FFA State Officer team, I couldn’t wait to help Missouri FFA rise. I couldn’t wait to meet, love, and give tight hugs to Missouri FFA members, like you. However, it came to my attention this experience wouldn’t just be me helping you. A lot of times, it would be you helping me. I learned compassion from the sweet souls in the Eldon FFA Chapter who “life-chatted” with me on a rainy day. I saw true teamwork in action from the way Tipton FFA members tackled adversity, taking teamwork to a new level — even if it was just for a fun activity. My smile is a little bigger because of the laughs and warmth felt when visiting with the Blair Oaks FFA Chapter — a

newly chartered chapter here in the Show-Me state. Their zest for life and FFA is unforgettable. I learned from Tate of the Stover FFA Chapter how to dive in headfirst and meet challenges with grit and excitement. From Cole at FFA Camp, it was from his continuous encouragement and sheer joy that I learned the value of living in the present. This year I saw you, Missouri FFA, in the most positive of lights, and it was you who reminded me why we are as strong as the Missouri mule. I learned, I grew, and I am better because of you. I am me, because I met, loved, and felt your compassion. For you, I am thankful. It is my hope that you will continue encouraging your chapters, communities, and industry the same tireless way you did for me. I am confident our world will be better because you’re in it, fellow FFA member.

State FFA President Abigail Bertz addressed the Missouri General Assembly earlier this year. During her term of service, she learned and grew alongside members, as well as industry leaders, from all across the state.

Missouri FFA Today • Joann Pipkin, Editor 3674 S. State Hwy N • Republic, MO 65738 Email: Phone: (417) 827-2756 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 573-5264757 or TTY 800-735-2966; fax number 573-522-4883; email


–by Abigail Bertz


Food Insecurity SERVICE day at state fair


he first ever Missouri FFA Food Insecurity Service Day was held last August during the 2017 Missouri State Fair, and plans are already well underway for this year’s event. Set for Aug. 14, this year’s project hopes to package 100,000 meals for food banks across Missouri. Missouri FFA teamed with Missouri Farmers Care for the first Missouri FFA Food Insecurity Service Day. On Aug. 15, 2017, more than 350 FFA students and volunteers spent the day packing 52,032 meals to feed families of up to six people. In an effort to combat childhood food insecurity in the state, Missouri Farmers Care has launched a summer of service with Drive to Feed Kids, a program that leverages existing food bank and distribution networks to deliver kid-

friendly meals to youth. Food is delivered through backpack programs and inschool food pantries to help children in food-insecure households. Dr. Alan Wessler, chairman of Missouri Farmers Care, said the Missouri State Fair is an appropriate venue to celebrate the best of Missouri agriculture as well as address the food-security challenges that too many Missourians face. “All of us in agriculture are focused on doing our best to produce food,” Dr.


Wessler said. “But we’re also focused on making our communities the best place they can be. When our youth face uncertainty about access to nutritious food, it presents challenges in coming to school ready to learn and thrive. It is time to consider what we can do to help. The good news is that our partner through Drive to Feed Kids, Feeding Missouri, has a proven and efficient way to deliver food to those who most need it.”

–from Our Staff


doug kueker Hometown: Sweet Springs, Missouri What doug does: Doug serves as an educational program designer and owner of his own company, Vivayic. His company provides curriculum for K-16 classrooms that are effective and relevant to today’s society. What FFA DID FOR doug: As an FFA member, Doug learned valuable life skills and character traits that have helped him along his journey and in his current career. D



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hat has FFA taught you? For alumnus Doug Kueker, his time in the National FFA Organization provided him with life lessons, skills and opportunities he uses every day in his career. “My experience in the classroom, laboratory and through FFA helped me develop the skills and character traits everyone needs to be successful – communication, being a team player, positively influencing others, time management, responsibility and more,” Kueker said. Kueker grew up on a small cow-calf and row crop farm in Sweet Springs, Missouri. He was very active in his FFA chapter, served as Missouri FFA President and was later selected as a National FFA Officer. Serving as a state and national officer taught Kueker to respect the value of diversity and to seek to understand differences before jumping to conclusions. He was beyond honored to be selected by his peers to represent other FFA members at the state and national levels. “Both of these humbling experiences broadened my perspective about the diversity of the agriculture, food, and natural resource industry in Missouri, as well as across the U.S.,” he explained.

Former FFA member Doug Kueker credits FFA for providing him valuable skills he uses in his career and everyday life. By Alison Bos-Lovins Kueker’s journey as a state and national officer led him to experiences that he will never forget. His favorite experience as a state officer was traveling the state to Greenhand leadership conferences with his fellow state officers. He enjoyed working with young FFA members and helping them set goals for their career and leadership development. Kueker recalls hearing progress from students he worked with a few years later, which he said was a very rewarding feeling. His experience as a national officer was also an inspiring venture for Kueker. E

He was humbled to represent members on a national level and see the passion members had for FFA. “Traveling to different chapters across the state of South Dakota during FFA Week was one of my favorite experiences as a national officer,” Kueker explained.

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“Experiencing the enthusiasm FFA members have for the organization and for the future of agriculture firsthand was inspiring.” Kueker admits that being a state and national officer was hard work. It required passion and drive. He explained that to earn the right to represent other FFA members in this capacity, one should be prepared to spend time investing in building the knowledge and skills it takes to lead effectively. “Take time to reflect on what you have gained from FFA and why you feel it is important to encourage other FFA members to pursue their own development through the organization,” he said. In addition to his FFA honors, Kueker received his agricultural education degree from the University of Missouri. After graduation, he worked for the National FFA Organization, where he created curriculum for national student conferences such as the Washington Leadership Conference. Additionally, he generated curriculum for professional development experiences for agricultural teachers. Kueker obtained a master’s degree in education from Purdue University and recently completed his PhD in Information Science and Learning Technologies from the University of Missouri. Through his accomplishments, Kueker credits the FFA organization for shaping his future. Plus, he said FFA taught him that hard work and perseverance pay off. “FFA helped me set goals and explore and discover my passions and talents,” Kueker said. He has a passion for learning new things and developing others. An entrepreneur, Kueker took his passion and turned it into a successful business. His company, Vivayic, designs effective learning programs and educational materials that equip individuals with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes they need to be successful. It offers services such as learning strategy and analysis; curriculum

and program design; education program evaluation; and e-learning and content delivery. “Simply put, my company Vivayic helps build others’ capacity to do good in the world,” Kueker said. “A majority of our work is with organizations who are striving to ensure a safe and sustainable food supply to feed the world, as well as groups and organizations who are F

working to make the K-16 education system more relevant and effective.” Kueker continues to support the FFA organization today. He volunteers to help Missouri FFA organize and conduct national officer candidate interviews each year. He also works with FFA members at HYMAX academy and with area officers at the Area Officer Institute at Camp Rising Sun each summer. Plus, he and his


A trip Down

Did you know? doug kueker served as the national ffa central region vice president from 2000 to 2001. after his year of service, he continued to work for the national ffa organization.

wife, Emily, enjoy working with members of local chapters to help them prepare for contests and other FFA events. Kueker advises FFA members to step outside their comfort zones. He encourages members to do that contest they do not think they can do. Additionally, he said FFA members should sign up to be on a committee to organize a chapter FFA event. He also charges members to interact with others at conventions or camps and bring back new ideas to their chapter. “You’ll never know how much you are capable of until you step out of your comfort zone,” Kueker said.

“FFA helped me set goals and explore and discover my passions and talents.” – Doug Kueker

FFA Alumni play an important role in keeping agricultural education and FFA programs in our local schools. Learn more about how you can help create a successful alumni program in your community. For more details, visit


Memory Lane While Doug Kueker had several unforgettable FFA experiences, he remembers a few of his favorite FFA moments. FFA Week, FFA Camp and FFA meetings are among his favorite FFA memories. FFA week created many fond memories for Kueker because the activities brought his chapter together for a busy week of fun that highlighted the great things FFA members were doing. Plus, it provided an opportunity to say thank you to key school and community groups that supported them throughout the year. Camp Rising Sun created special memories for Kueker. He enjoyed meeting and creating friendships at FFA camps with members throughout the state. The network he formed at camp and other events like convention is now a part of his network as a business person. Kueker also recalls the local FFA meetings held in Sweet Springs. He remembers seeing those gatherings as an opportunity to not only conduct business but also learn about the local agriculture industry through guest speakers. Officer teams found ways to make meetings fun and engaging. In addition, Kueker credits his agricultural advisors for being his greatest influences. Dan Hill and Heath Eckler were two individuals who invested in his development and pushed him outside his comfort zone. “I would not be the person I am today without them,” Kueker said. Doug Kueker is proof that the experiences, opportunities, friendships, networking, and influences FFA offers can help develop and mold members into their future careers and other life endeavors. Memories created through FFA will last a lifetime and hold a forever impact.


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and the hard work put in by all facets of agriculture.” Seeing his students succeed is one of the most rewarding aspects of Sayre’s job. Another veteran teacher, Jason Dieckhoff, has been teaching at the Cass Career Center in Harrisonville for 15 years. He also hopes to instill the importance of agriculture in his students and teach skills needed in today’s workforce. Dieckhoff helps develop youth into productive and active participants in the future of the industry by implementing a well-balanced program for students to receive the full agricultural education experience. “We need agriculture education so the future in our industry not only has the necessary set of skills and knowledge but also has the same set of core beliefs — a

Rylyn Small works to help his students find their niche in agriculture. He loves seeing students reach their full potential.

faith in the future of agriculture born not of words but of deeds,” he said. Despite the pleasure both Sayre and Dieckhoff find in working with students, being an agricultural education instructor often is challenging. According to Sayre,

one the biggest hurdles of his job is working with students who are not as motivated by success. Dieckhoff has found that the most challenging part of his job is adapting his teaching methods to fit interests of students today.



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From the shirt on our backs to the food on our plates to the fuel in our tanks, we #ThankAFarmer every day here in Missouri!



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“Young teachers can relate better to high school students and are used to the technology and social media current students are using, “Dieckhoff said. Emily Reed, an agriculture education instructor at Saline County Career Center, and Rylyn Small, who teaches agriculture at East Prairie High School, are early in their agricultural education careers. Their advisors and their FFA experiences helped aid in their decision to become agriculture teachers. “My goal as a teacher is to allow all students to feel and find their place in the agriculture classroom,” Small said. “I have a passion for student success.” Reed and Small know agriculture education is important and needed. They hope to instill a passion for agriculture and teach students how to be informed. “With the world population continuing to climb, it is very important to have people who are ready to educate those who may not understand agricultural topics,” Reed explained. Despite the importance of agricultural education, the nationwide shortage has teachers concerned. Dieckhoff, Sayre, Small, and Reed know the extensive hours,

demands, stress, and salary compared to other agricultural jobs are factors that likely affect the shortage. “We put in several hours above and beyond what is required of us,” Sayre stated. Dieckhoff said, “To teach today, you truly have to possess a passion for youth. If you do not, you will not last long or be very happy.” According to Reed, she knows how some teachers can suffer from burnout. Plus, there are more teachers retiring than young professionals graduating with degrees to fill positions. Small encourages FFA members to consider a career in the field as he said it is one of the most rewarding jobs to have. Plus, he knows agricultural education is a necessity. “We need FFA members that have a passion for the industry, FFA and students,” Small explained. “Be prepared to stress, have late nights and early mornings and sometimes no sleep. But also be prepared to impact students and watch students grow into strong leaders in the agriculture industry.”

–by Alison Bos-Lovins

Emily Reed believes in the future of agriculture. In the classroom every day, she works to instill a love for agriculture and a passion for success in her students.





republic ffa begins land restoration project


ust as crops are growing in the field, Republic FFA members are inside the classroom learning what it takes to run a sustainable row crop operation. An opportunity cropped up when school administrators reached out to the FFA chapter for help.

“Our administrators were looking for a better way to take care of the land in front of our new high school,” said David Mareth, agriculture instructor and FFA advisor at Republic High School. “They came to us for help.” For years, the FFA chapter had taken hay off of the extra land, Mareth said. However, administrators within the J

district were looking for more. Yet, if the FFA chapter was going to spend time restoring the land, they wanted it to be self-sustainable and profitable. With 45 acres of open ground, Republic FFA began by no-tilling wheat into the soil to enhance the landscape surrounding the high school. Mareth explained how the students are working


Did you know? Republic FFA members are gaining hands-on learning while working to renovate a part of their high school campus.

to manage the project and will eventually reap the benefits of what they sow. Intertwining with the curriculum for Agricultural Science II, instructor and FFA advisor Ciara DeClue has enjoyed interacting with the students and encouraging their growth during the process. The project has sparked interest, and students are eager to learn.

“The kids are really excited,” DeClue said. “I am excited to see what it will grow into and how we will sell our product to farmers.” DeClue explained how students will learn the process of restoring the land from poor to rich soil. The soil is in undesirable condition because of extensive excavation of the ground from

when the high school was built. From figuring out what to plant and when to plant it, to crop rotations, soil samples, Environmental Protection Agency studies, and waterway research, students are receiving the full experience, Mareth said. With the capability for hands-on learning, the project will continually give back to students in the chapter. Additionally, they have created a twoyear plan, budget, and profit margin analysis for their enterprise. This will give the students the confidence and knowledge to run an enterprise of their own one day, Mareth explained. Currently, a local alumnus is assisting the chapter in spraying, cultivating, planting and harvesting the crop, Mareth said. The alumnus is donating his machinery and time to the project. Yet, the students’ work still comes in to

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play, providing the local alumnus with amounts for pesticide and seeds per acre and calculating potential harvest. Relying on producers in the area has allowed them to use resources to get their feet on the ground, he said. “Having someone running it like it is their own will allow us to continue to plan while meeting the needs of the administration,” Mareth explained. “Any profit we make will go back into the next crop, making this a completely self-sustainable process.” Looking to the future, the chapter plans to institute a wheat-soybean crop rotation. DeClue said once the soil is restored completely, they will then

“Our administrators were looking for a better way to take care of the land in front of our new high school.” – David Mareth

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plant warm season grasses to harvest for a hay crop to sell to local farmers. “I hope that students will experience a full rotation of crop,” DeClue added. “This will allow students to see the process all the way through.” On a larger scale, Mareth said, the chapter will eventually purchase equipment. Once established, the chapter will be able to harvest for profit, giving the students a visual of how hard work truly pays off. Additionally, other areas surrounding the high school will go


Republic FFA’s land renovation project includes a crop rotation plan with wheat and soybeans. Eventually, the chapter plans to sow warm season grass, which will be harvested for hay and sold to local farmers. Pictured (l-r) are Ryan Cameron, Advisor David Mareth, Koleby Washam, Kendall Hamilton and Elizabeth Ayers.

administrators are excited about what we are doing.” Mareth said administrators are raving about the results from the land restoration project results thus far. They enjoy that it is relevant, practical and real-world. “The school is getting everything they wanted done, plus it is providing pride and education back into our agricultural program,” Mareth said. While both Mareth and DeClue agree that the project hasn’t sunk in with students yet, they know chapter members are learning and growing alongside the crops they have planted. Once the students are able to see something in the field, Mareth and DeClue believe they will really see the process come to life. “I think this can build excitement for the program because they can see what we are doing for the school and that they have an impact here,” DeClue said.

into supporting the land restoration project and agriculture department. Mareth described future plans for starting a school herd of livestock. Students would then be able to conduct trials on the livestock using hay harvested on the school ground, while also using the manure to fertilize. Plans to establish a rotational grazing program are also on the horizon. That would allow students to see the process full circle and use their knowledge in other areas of crop and grassland management. “This is only the first step in expanding the presence of our agriculture program on campus,” Mareth said. “Our

–by Jera Pipkin

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Agriculture Construction Drafting & Design Electrical Industrial Systems Machine Tool Turf & Landscape Welding


Blue Jacket Brief chad laxton



University of MissouriColumbia | Agriculture and Science Journalism

Crowder College | Agricultural Education

why i serve: My advice:

I believe FFA offers each member the opportunity to succeed and belong, regardless of their background or abilities. I hope to encourage members to find something they can excel at in the FFA. I was able to find a community and discover my potential through the blue jacket, and I know that every member can do the same. Serving as a state officer has allowed me to share this message. I hope to assist current members to succeed in an area of their interest and encourage others to get involved.

My advice to FFA members is to never underestimate yourself. I spent a great amount of my time in FFA convincing myself that I was not good enough to achieve something. While we might have these thoughts sometimes, we truly must take those chances we are afraid of. Never let anyone tell you, even if that person is yourself, that you can’t do something. Never convince yourself that you can’t do something. You can do anything, and you can achieve anything. In the words of my friend’s grandfather, ‘Can’t’ means you don’t want to.

Learn today Lead tomorrow As an FFA member, the skills you learn today will help you become a successful leader tomorrow. And we look forward to a future with you as an electric cooperative member.





Come join a Collegiate Farm Bureau chapter at the university of your choice.

Justin belew Vice President

ashland FFA


n the summer of 2014, I began one of the most harebrained ideas I’ve ever had, raising Bobwhite Quail. I had raised chickens, so how could raising another species of birds, like quail, be any different? I had worked with my father and family friend all winter to construct a building and location to raise the thumbnail-size birds. I had heat lamps, feeders, waterers, wood shavings, the whole nine yards ready for these little puffballs. I felt prepared. What I didn’t expect was that, within the first two weeks, over 40% of the chicks would die, and by the end of the year I had lost 270 of the original 450 birds I began with. I was devastated! With the time and effort I had invested into my project, I had hardly anything to show for it. As the next year approached, I decided to give the quail another go. I researched, asked questions of experienced locals, and applied for a National SAE Grant. By the time July 2015 came, I had purchased a battery brooder using the National SAE Grant I had received, collected a mound of research articles, and gleaned strategies and notes from locals also raising Bobwhites. In 2015, I was blessed enough to cut my death loss in half and in 2016 decrease it to 25% (the average for local professionals). – Justin Belew Over the years of raising Bobwhite Quail I have realized that even when an obstacle knocks you down, you shouldn’t be afraid to bounce back and work harder. Throughout our lives and FFA careers, we are certain to experience failures, but it’s the individuals that learn from those mistakes that will succeed. Failures can often create more opportunities for learning than any success ever will.

• Agricultural Business • Agricultural Education • Agricultural Science • Agronomy • Animal Science • Animal Science – Pre-Vet • Horticulture


“When an obstacle knocks you down, you shouldn’t be afraid to bounce back and work harder.”

NCMC’s Barton Farm Campus features the latest technology in its labs with outdoor, hands-on learning and internships. Our Agriculture and Natural Resources department has been home to six national PAS officers.

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Supporting the next generation.

For more than 100 years, FCS Financial has been helping farmers, ranchers and rural communities succeed. We offer a variety of programs for the youth in our communities including scholarships, grants, internships and interest-free funding. Give us a call, visit or stop by the office to learn more about the opportunities available through our youth support programs.

a More than half a million dollars in scholarships* awarded since 2004

a Shaping Rural Missouri grants** awarded

each year for community betterment projects

Find an FCS Financial office near you:


a Funds available for qualifying 4-H and FFA

projects in counties served by FCS Financial

a Paid summer internships available for college students

*Scholarship applicants must meet all qualifications in application to be eligible **Grant and Ag Youth Funding applicants must be a member of 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 2018

MO FFA Today  

Summer 2018