Missouri FFA and Agriculture Education | Blog
Latest news and reflections by Missouri FFA officers.
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Research Worth Rewards

This year, nine Missouri FFA members will be recognized Oct. 24-27 as finalists in the Agriscience Fair at the National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis, Indiana. The National FFA Agriscience Fair recognizes student researchers studying the application of agricultural scientific principles and emerging technologies in agricultural enterprises.

 

Here’s an inside look at the projects from two of this year’s finalists.

Daryin Sharp – Bolivar FFA

Daryin Sharp, is a finalist in Animal Systems, Division 5, of the National FFA Agriscience Fair. Studying the effect of growth implants on nursing beef calves, Daryin aimed to determine if the use of growth hormone implants were more profitable in getting calves to a target market weight compared to not using growth implants.

 

Daryin’s experiment compared the use of Ralgro and Elanco implants. His results showed calves implanted with Ralgro will reach a target weight in a more timely manner. Results were shared with area producers and veterinarians.

 

“Producers and the industry will benefit from weaning calves that come out of the cow-calf operations at a higher weight and will have fewer days on feed in the feedlots by reaching a slaughter weight more rapidly,” he explained in his experiment conclusion. “This information will allow the U.S. to continue to be the world’s largest producer of beef because we are implementing practices the allow beef producers to remain profitable.”

 

Isaiah Massey – Troy

Finding more ways to effectively and efficiently grow food and meet the needs of the growing population is a challenge. In preparing for his experiment on biochar emissions, Isaiah Massey first pondered the most effective soil remedy that could minimize the amount of carbon emissions released into the atmosphere.

 

During his experiment, he took four different types of plants: tomato, bell pepper, marigold and dusty miller. Using his FFA chapter’s greenhouse, Isaiah filled four, four-inch pots with different soil types consisting of biochar, garden soil and promix.

 

In the end, Isaiah discovered that the plants potted in biochar soil released 400 to 600 parts per million less carbon emissions compared to the prolix and the garden soil that emitted a substantial amount of carbon dioxide.

 

“Farmers and garden growers can become enlightened about the benefits of biochar as a carbon capture,” Isaiah explained in his conclusion. “Through the use of biochar, farmers can be able to not only reduce their carbon footprint, but they can increase their yields because of the amount of carbon the soil captures beneath the ground which then is used by the crops to concentrate their growth rates and can increase their yields.”

 

 

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Foraging For First

From precision farming techniques to fertility management, producing high quality hay is what drives Hannah Strain’s supervised agricultural experience (SAE) to success. She’s one of four finalists in the forage production proficiency award area at the National FFA Convention next month in Indianapolis.

 

A member of the Rolla FFA chapter, Hannah’s SAE includes working for Elk Prairie Farms LLC, a beef cattle operation that focuses on forage production.

 

“High quality production is vital to the entire farm,” she explains. “We use precision farming techniques and apply our fertility in different than normal application windows to favor superior species in our grazing and hay production management.”

 

Hannah says her SAE has provided her a learning experience to see and practice the techniques for producing a quality product while still maintaining quantity.

 

“I have been tasked with jobs like forage assessment, evaluating seasonal growth of warm and cool season grasses, soil assessment, all aspects of hay production, and the marketing of our forage product,” she explains.

 

Hannah works with customers across the state and takes pride in producing a quality product. She also maintains a positive working relationship with landowners who they lease ground from as well as  local ag businesses who help carry out the farm’s operations.

 

“Customer service and sales is vital to my future in the agriculture industry,” Hannah says. “Focusing on a career in agricultural advocacy and promotion, I have taken every opportunity to visit with agriculture businesses, customers, local farmers and others to further my communication skills. Learning these valuable skills will help with my future career of communicating with people all across the agriculture industry.”

 

 

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Pork Profits

Pierce City FFA member Brenden Kleiboeker has been involved with swine production his entire life. Yet, it was FFA that helped the young ag producer get paid for his responsibilities on his family’s Mineral Valley Farms, a diversified crop and livestock farm in southwest Missouri. Each year, the farm raises approximately 1,000 all natural, antibiotic free market hogs. His responsibilities include checking pigs daily, balancing rations, grinding and mixing feed, and treating health problems. He’s also involved in repairs and preventive maintenance of all swine equipment and buildings on the farm.

 

Brenden’s involvement in the operation has paid off; he’s one of four finalists up for the swine production proficiency placement award at the National FFA Convention next month in Indianapolis, Indiana. Agricultural Proficiency Awards honor FFA members who, through supervised agricultural experiences, have developed specialized skills that they can apply toward their future careers.

 

Nationally, students can compete for awards in nearly 50 areas ranging from agricultural communications to wildlife management. Proficiency awards are also recognized at local and state levels and provide recognition to members that are exploring and becoming established in agricultural career pathways.

 

In life, Brenden says he views every challenge as a chance to learn, and the same has held true for his Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE).

 

“As a placement SAE, I feel that I have an even greater responsibility in solving these problems as I am responsible for another’s business and profits,” Brenden explains.

 

As a market hog finishing operation for Niman Ranch, Mineral Valley Farms is charged with following the company’s protocols for ensuring meat quality.

 

“Meat quality is important for every swine farmer, but perhaps more important for Mineral Valley Farms as meat quality is the basis of our pay,” he says.

 

Brenden determines which hogs had the best yield grade and marbling based off of a kill sheet provided at market time. He’s also discovered through on-farm scales how to more accurately feed their hogs for proper weight and days of age. The end result has increased the back fat on the hogs and ultimately led to higher premiums for Mineral Valley Farms.

 

“Working with others is a vital skill for any career,” Brenden says. “Through discussions with our field representative, I have utilized many lifelong skills when sharing my ideas and listening to theirs.”

 

 

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Developing A Personal Brand

Paxton Dahmer

Paxton Dahmer – President

When I hear someone’s name, I immediately begin associating it with the things that make them who they are. For example, when I hear someone say, Harriet Tubman, I think of her dealings with the Underground Railroad. She stood up for what she believed in and risked her life in the process. Tubman had a foundational belief that freedom is a universal right, and although she was responsible for helping escort over 300 slaves to freedom, she never sought personal glory. In response to Tubman’s selfless acts, she has been branded as a leader that prioritized the freedom of others. She was willing to sacrifice her own freedom to help others. She was selfless. She was invested. She was the leader that the world needed.

Just like Tubman, we can develop our own personal brands. If we invest ourselves in the causes we feel are worthy, we will improve ourselves. For me, FFA was always the cause that I chose. FFA is invested in improving members each and every day. As an aspiring educator, I fell in love with that concept.

A variety of activities will not only improve us, but also allow us to develop our brands. Attending leadership academies, participating in CDE’s and LDE’s, and engaging in community service are great ways to improve your personal brand. When community members see that you are involved in these activities, it will reflect well on you, thus improving your image and brand.

I believe that when we have positive personal brands, it reflects well on our entire organization. It is no secret that our industry is under scrutiny, so as we progress throughout the remainder of our FFA careers, let’s put our best foot forward and work to improve our brands!

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All Kinds of Kinds

Madison Bader – VP

When you are growing up, everyone always talks about how you want to be a leader, not a follower. No one wants to be the person taking orders when they could be giving them, no matter what the situation might be.This was always such a hard concept for me to understand.

Growing up, I was rather shy and liked to stay behind the scenes. I was okay with being a follower because that was what I was good at. I liked the doing the small details and making sure everything was running smoothly, all from the safety of a curtain shielding me from the public eye. I felt weird and alone while doing this, because all my other friends were pushing to be the ones in charge, yet I wanted nothing to do with it.

As I got older, I became more okay with wanting to be behind the scenes. I quickly realized that there are two types of people in the world- those that want to be front and center, and those that do not. I was okay with being the latter. My friends would never bat an eye when I chose to do the tedious details they did not want to do, whether it be making arrangements to get caterers for events or to go and get supplies needed for different activities because they knew that those jobs needed done, and it was something that I could accomplish well and on time.

Overall, my message here isn’t that you should not try for different leadership positions, but that you should never feel uncomfortable with doing the work behind the scenes. FFA has a position for everyone, and in the words of Miranda Lambert, it takes all kinds of kinds.

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Everest

Quentin Carlyle

Quentin Carlyle – VP

Climbing Mount Everest is one of the most harrowing items on my bucket list.  Imagining the feeling of standing at the summit, literally on top of the world, fills me with inspiration and excitement.
To accomplish this goal, I am going to have to put in a great deal of work. The first step is to get all of the supplies.  The list is long, including necessities such as oxygen tanks, snow shoes, climbing tack and even simple things such as a very warm coat.
After gathering the equipment, I must do a couple of additional things. The goal is to reach the summit, but I’ll have to decide what path I will take to get up there.  Multiple ridges exist leading to the top, each with different advantages over the others. Planning the route is crucial to summiting the mountain.  After I have my supplies and my plan in place, all that’s left is to climb to the peak.
Much like climbing Everest, we need to put in some work to get the most out of life.  First comes setting a goal: what do you want to do?  This might be something you want to accomplish in school, sports or anything in your life.
Next, we have to gather our resources. For myself, many of my supplies for life came from the numerous opportunities in FFA.  You also are offered many things through our organization as a member, whether it be the opportunity to improve your leadership skills at an event such as Greenhand Motivational Conference or the chance to gain employment skills in a Career Development Event.
The last crucial step is making the plan. What steps can you take to help you reach your goal?  How will you summit your own mountain?  If you can answer all of these questions, all that is left is to climb to the peak.
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20 Seconds of Courage

Adriene Aubuchon

Adriene Aubuchon – VP

One of my favorite movies of all time is We Bought a Zoo. In this heartwarming movie one of the many quotes that has impacted my life is this: “You know, sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage. Just literally 20 seconds of embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come out of it.”

This quote not only embodies what we all should strive for, but it also tells us that something good can occur because of it. FFA members, take that step of bravery and reach for your goals. Sometimes it can be scary to have faith in yourself because we don’t want to embarrass ourselves, but sometimes that is exactly what we need. We aren’t perfect; instead we should strive for the uniqueness our courage brings.

FFA has amazing opportunities to help us practice these 20 seconds of courage. It takes 4 seconds to say ,“Hi, my name is Adriene Aubuchon. What’s your name?” If we don’t leap right into these sometimes-scary situations, we might not ever meet a once-in-a-lifetime inspiration or friendship or connection. It takes about 20 seconds to say the opening line to your speech. It takes 1 second to wave at someone we see that’s having a bad day. This not only applies in FFA, but in school, other clubs, friendships and future careers.

Twenty seconds FFA members, 20 seconds. A year is 31,536,000 seconds. The magnitude of opportunity one year holds for a challenge, a new experience, a small change, is so exciting. May we never let fear of the unknown or of failure keep us from those few seconds of insane courage.

 

 

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Summer Reflection

Paxton Dahmer

Paxton Dahmer – President

The combined smell of livestock and corndogs, the sound of cattle and carnival games, and the view of the coliseum, swine barn and ferris wheel can only mean one thing — the Missouri State Fair! With the excitement of the fair, we tend to overlook that it is the end of summer break and it marks the beginning of the school year.

 

The start of school often leaves little time for reflection on the summer. When we take time to reflect on the events of the summer, we remember the time spent at Camp Rising Sun with friends learning leadership skills, the trips to livestock shows with our family, the countless hours spent in the field and so much more. Although these events are all wonderful, I love to reflect on our Food Insecurity Day at the state fair.

 

It was so wonderful seeing more than 600 FFA members from across the state come together for one reason — service. FFA members were energized and ready to continue serving after they returned to their home chapters. As members of a service-based organization, this is a necessity. The fourth and final line of our motto can help to serve as a guiding factor for our FFA careers.

 

A number of several prevalent needs in our home communities. Some communities need assistance in combatting food insecurity, some need volunteers at the community center and some need help at homeless shelters. Regardless of what the need is, we should be willing to help serve at all times.

 

As we start school and get back into the groove of FFA, I challenge you to take your service to the next level. Step out of your comfort zone and try something new and work to make your impact everyday so that you can truly live to serve!

 

 

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Digging Deep

Republic FFA begins land restoration project

by Jera Pipkin

 

Just 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 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 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 two-year 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 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 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 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 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.

 

 

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Stay Focused

Hannah Viets

Hannah Viets – VP

We are nearing the end of August, and that means it’s back to school time. Starting school can be an amazing, yet scary, time. Some of us might have started sports practice while others of us just wrapped up the 2018 Missouri State Fair.

 

When I was in high school, this time of the year was always the most hectic for me. I would be wrapping up my showing at the fair while having volleyball practice, and on top of that I would be starting my next adventure in my blue corduroy jacket. So many scheduled tasks at one time challenged me to keep my focus on what I what I wanted my end result to be. 

 

The National FFA organization was always something that brought new and eventful activities toward the beginning of the school year. This was also the organization that helped me filter my focus and find out what was important for me. From the time I was a freshman and had the opportunity to say the creed for the first time all the way to my senior year when I determined I was going to make that final lasting impact on my chapter, I was focused on my end goal.

 

No matter who you are or what grade you are going to be in, we need to stay focused on what lies ahead for us. Whether you are involved in competitive events such as Friday night football games or you are simply going to hangout with friends, stay focused on your one goal to achieve success.

 

Remember what Alex Hirschfeld once said, “The biggest challenge is to stay focused. It’s to have the discipline when there are so many competing things.” 

 

 

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Exceeding Expectations

Chloe Momphard

Chloe Momphard – 1st VP

Camp Rising Sun, Lake of the Ozarks, Main Street Musical, and forever changing Missouri weather are all things that can be associated with State FFA Camp. These are all common experiences for camp, however, one particular interaction made FFA camp unforgettable for me.

 

Colton Spencer was State FFA President when I went to camp.  At the time, I was pretty reserved, but wasn’t afraid to be outgoing. Colton told me that to achieve the goals I had set for myself, I had to step out of my comfort zone and grow personally. He also took the time to get to know me and remember my name.  His advice and interactions with me helped set me on the path to becoming the person that I am today.

 

This year, I had the pleasure of attending weeks three and five of camp. Boy, were my expectations wrong! I thought I would be the one that did the teaching and inspiring; instead I was the one learning and being inspired!

 

FFA members, you have a passion that burns in you like a fire; carry that into everything that you do! While I know I learned quite a lot at FFA camp, I hope you, FFA members, were able to build stronger leaders out of yourselves and others.  Take all of the tools we identified back to your home and community and use them; don’t let them lie in the toolbox and rust away! We all have our own individual strengths. Yet, that doesn’t mean we can’t collect more from those around us and work together to form a more cooperative and efficient team. We are mighty alone, but incredible together!

 

 

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Back to School

Hannah Viets

Hannah Viets – VP

We are nearing the end of August, and that means it’s back to school time. Starting school can be an amazing, yet scary, time. Some of us might have started sports practice while others of us just wrapped up the 2018 Missouri State Fair.

When I was in high school, this time of the year was always the most hectic for me. I would be wrapping up my showing at the fair while having volleyball practice, and on top of that I would be starting my next adventure in my blue corduroy jacket. So many scheduled tasks at one time challenged me to keep my focus on what I what I wanted my end result to be.

The National FFA organization was always something that brought new and eventful activities toward the beginning of the school year. This was also the organization that helped me filter my focus and find out what was important for me. From the time I was a freshman and had the opportunity to say the creed for the first time all the way to my senior year when I determined I was going to make that final lasting impact on my chapter, I was focused on my end goal.

No matter who you are or what grade you are going to be in, we need to stay focused on what lies ahead for us. Whether you are involved in competitive events such as Friday night football games or you are simply going to hangout with friends, stay focused on your one goal to achieve success.

Remember what Alex Hirschfeld once said, “The biggest challenge is to stay focused. It’s to have the discipline when there are so many competing things.”

 

 

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Lights, Camera, Action

Ryan Siegel

Ryan Siegel – VP

Imagine you are standing on a movie set, and you are the lead role. The director screams out, “Lights, Camera, Action.” You begin saying your lines, and the feeling is surreal! When the scene is over, you let out a sigh of relief, and you feel a little uneasy about it. You don’t think you did your best. You think you could have done better, but the director said that the cut was the best that it was ever going to be and that you gave it your all.

 

You see, in this scenario the director is your FFA advisor, and the scene is your four years in high school. When you start the scene, the lights are blinding, you are shocked by what you can truly do to succeed. These blinding lights are a lot like your freshman year in FFA; you are shocked by the magnitude of the organization and all the older members are lifting you up, lighting your day with knowledge and wisdom. Helping you one day see the camera or the perception that everyone has of you, in this camera you are a superhero, farmer, friend, or a mentor.

 

The camera is a lot like your senior year in FFA. Younger members are always watching you, waiting to follow your lead, while others see the impact you are making in this organization and your teachers and advisors notice how much you have grown and succeeded.

 

Finally, you hear the word action, and you are sitting in your high school auditorium or football field with your cap and gown on. At this moment in time, you realize that it’s time for you to start acting in the next scene. You begin this scene in college, trade school, or on the farm. Yet, with each step that you take throughout this next scene in life, you act to improve the future of agriculture.

 

When you hear lights, camera, action, what are you going to do to light up someone’s world, change the perception of agriculture, and act to improve and believe in the future of agriculture?

 

 

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Be. Believe. Become.

Chloe Momphard

Chloe Momphard – 1st VP

Be. Believe. Become. These simple but impactful words have hung above my bed and served as motivation for the past five years.

 

I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying “Act like the person you want to become.”This is where “be” comes into play. Each of us has to take action in order to be the person we want to bein life. However, it isn’t enough to just act like the person we want to be, we have to “believe” we can achieve it. Positive mental images are critical in achieving goalsbecause what you think is often what you achieve!

 

While it is always nice to have support from those that we love in our lives, we also have to be confident in ourselves and our abilities. We have to work for the goal and “believe” that we can achieve it. After we “be” and “believe”, it is natural for us to “become” the person we want to be or achieve the goals we have set for ourselves. Be. Believe. Become.

 

It sounds simple. It’s just three steps to follow. We will always haveobstacles to face; however, we can prepare and limit the obstacles and eliminate the opportunity to react. By preparing, we are on the front end of a goal, guiding the path; when we react, we are behind, chasing the path, trying to play ‘catch-up’.

 

FFA members, you can use this in your FFA career, school and vocation. Success will not be handed to us! We have to work for it each day. While we may not be able to control everything that happens, we can guide our path by preparing for success and going after it, instead of waiting for it to happen and reacting. Be, Believe, Become and write your own success story!

 

 

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Lift To Rise

Regan Ragsdale

Regan Ragsdale – Secretary

“We rise by lifting others.” – Robert Ingersoll

 

There is nothing more fulfilling in life than when we lift others up through service.

 

The Missouri State Fair is here – finally! Many describe these booming 10 days in Sedalia, Missouri, as the best times of the year.

 

So many of you have been working all year with your livestock, watering your plants and crops (despite the drought), and gearing up to make incredible memories with your family and friends. I can’t imagine the amount of pride that must be beaming from your soul – whether you receive a ribbon or not.

 

Many members have traveled to the fair to exhibit. In addition to many of you who are exhibiting at the state fair, 650 other FFA members signed up for Food Insecurity Day on Tuesday, Aug. 14. Missouri FFA members from across the Show-Me state will pack 100,000 meals to be distributed between the six Food Banks in the Feeding Missouri Network.

 

The Missouri State Fair, Missouri Department of Agriculture, Missouri Farmers Care, Missouri FFA and many others will work diligently to ensure that countless members could come together to make a huge difference in the lives of those who are food insecure.

 

Consider this fact: 1 in 5 kids in the state of Missouri is food insecure. Missouri FFA members – you have LIFTED others by having a servant’s heart. I know that if you continue to embrace the last line of our FFA motto, “living to serve,” you will RISE.

 

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