Smile! And, feed the world.

Paxton Dahmer

Paxton Dahmer – President

“The ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who do.” -John McAfee


It is quite common that we turn on our televisions or open our Twitter feed and learn of an act of hate that has occurred somewhere around the world. A variety of causes can be blamed for these events, but I believe one of the most common is a lack of kindness.


Take a moment to think about the last time that someone smiled at you while walking down the street—an act so small that we often take for granted can make an enormous impact. Now consider the domino effect in relation to a simple act of kindness. Imagine how wonderful our world could be if everyone smiled at just one person every day.


You see, the impact of that one smile goes far beyond that single moment. As that person goes about the remainder of his or her day, spirits will be lifted. That single smile could change the entire course of a day. That smile could inspire the same in return, creating a chain reaction that can and will change our world.


As we listened to the speakers at the National FFA Convention and Expo, we were inspired to make a change. This is wonderful, but far too often we lose that inspiration when we return home. FFA members, the time is now. We can make an impact and change our world, but we have to start now.

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Inspiration and Thank You

Chloe Momphard

Chloe Momphard – VP

Captain Charlie Plumb, a farm kid from Kansas that grew up to be a pilot for the United States Navy, expressed this during one of his motivational speeches. Captain Plumb was a graduate of the Naval Academy. After training to become a pilot, his squadron was called to action for an eight-month tour. After 75 missions and only five days before the end of his tour, his airplane was shot down and he was taken as a prisoner of war (POW) for six years.


Plumb survived the hunger, isolation, monotony and terror as a POW for six long years. He became an inspiration to all of the POWs and now inspires all those he encounters. He does not consider himself a hero and takes advantage of every opportunity he has to thank those that participated in the constructing and packing of his plane. He survived the unthinkable and came out stronger after his time as a POW.


In Plumb’s words, “If life was perfect and everyone said yes, you wouldn’t try as hard or dress as neat. Therefore, there is great value in being blown out of the sky.” In other words, life throws obstacles our way. However, it is how we handle them and move forward that develops who we are in the future. Setbacks will occur and obstacles will get in the way, however, we write our story and live our life by the choices we make. If we choose to be defeated, it probably will become so. If we choose to embrace the challenge and fight through it, great things await. How will you choose?


To all who have bravely served our great country, THANK YOU! If you ate today, thank a farmer!  If you ate in peace, thank a soldier!

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Garth + POTUS = One for the Books

McKenzie Loftis

McKenzie Loftis – VP

This year’s National FFA Convention was one for the books! Every year an invitation is extended to the President of the United States. This year, Donald Trump accepted the invitation. He talked about many different agriculture issues that impact our agriculture industry, and he even discussed the skills we learn in FFA. His words hit home with me for different reasons. Many different opinions exist on important issues in agriculture, but who better to hear about the issues from than the current leader of our country. His speech also sparked many good conversations of how we can improve what we already do as agriculturists. On top of that, we heard some really good country music from Garth Brooks. To be completely honest, I was hard-core-fan-girling when one of the members sitting up by the stage got Garth’s hat. I grew up listening to Garth Brooks, and it was amazing to see him in concert. He put on a great show. The national officers presented him with an FFA jacket in a shadow box. I had never seen anything done like that until this year. I found it really cool, though. I am thankful an artist like him still represents country music so well. This quite possibly was the greatest National FFA Convention of all time. Thank you for allowing me to serve one more year in the blue jacket and have the opportunity to attend this amazing week of events.

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Audrey Martin

Audrey Martin – VP

The lyrics to one of my favorite songs ask, “if not us then who?”. The song really asks the listener to consider if they are doing their part to do good in the world and make a change. It is easy to see a problem, then simply assume that someone else will take care of it. It is easy to get stuck in everyday routines and forget that you can step up to make a change. No matter how big or small the act, you can make a difference in someone else’s life.


Many of you just got back from National FFA Convention where we learned about the power of “Just One”. FFA members, I know that many of you want to make a difference in your chapters and in your community. However, the task seems overwhelming or you doubt your own abilities. FFA members, there is absolutely no need for this. I promise you that you have the will, knowledge, and determination to make a difference. You have capabilities far beyond what you imagine right now. You and you alone have the power to make a change through just one act of kindness, compassion, or encouragement. Believe that you have the power to make a difference because if you don’t, who will?

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Tips from Missouri’s Top Chapters

From planning to creating activities that encourage member and community involvement, both Marshall and Paris FFA Chapters know what it takes to be among National FFA’s top chapters.


Both chapters will be recognized for their efforts as Model of Excellence finalists this month at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. Marshall is also a premier chapter in the growing leaders category.


Paris FFA works to create activities that compliment National FFA’s Model of Excellence component of the National Chapter Award program. Activities such as Bacon Math Fun, Old Timer Barnwarming and Paris FFA Aggie Days are some examples of their events. Advisor Josh Bondy said chapters should find a need, create an activity and ask members what they are passionate about.


Plus, community support is key to the chapter’s success. According to advisor Jaelyn Peckman, their community is the backbone of their chapter because of its constant support and guidance.


“We are very thankful for our community support, and we realize this support makes new opportunities possible for our chapter,” she said.


Marshall FFA Advisor Tyler Burgin recommends chapters put a unique spin on activities already planned. He said doing so adds impact and reaches more people. Plus, both he and advisor Emily Reed said including officers and members in the planning and implementation of chapter activities is key to planning successful chapter activities.


“This is a student-led organization, and students take more pride in themselves and the chapter when they have to do something on their own,” Reed said.


—Story by Alison Bos-Lovins

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Dialed In On Dairy

Concordia FFA member Austin Freund remembers when he was a youngster following his dad around their family dairy operation.

“My dad has taught me the management practices needed to start and run my own dairy operation,” Austin says.

Austin began his dairy operation with two cows and two heifers. Growing his Supervised Agricultural Experience program helped him become a national finalist in the Dairy Production Entrepreneurship proficiency award area.

“Today, my wide array of responsibilities include removing manure from lots and spreading it on the fields where crops have been removed, moving cattle, vaccinating my cows, managing free stalls and harvesting hay,” he explains.

Growing his project hasn’t been easy. Austin says limited resources have made it challenging. The family operates a closed herd, choosing to not purchase animals outside the farm. To expand his project, Austin purchased some cows from his father and uncle. He’s also kept 100 percent of his heifer calves.

“From 2014 through 2016, my operating profit margin was higher than in 2017,” Austin explains. “Even though my herd numbers had increased, the milk prices were considerably lower, thus decreasing my profits. The increase required me to rent more acres for the production of feed for the additional cows, thus increasing my expenses while milk prices were already low.”

An exchange of labor plan with his father and uncle helped Austin defray some of his expenses.

Among the greatest accomplishments for his SAE are improving heat detection in both the heifers and cows and implementing a clean environment for his cattle by using fresh sand in the farm’s free stalls. He also implemented an intensive grazing system to help better utilize the farm’s pastures.

“When I first started managing the pastures (with intensive grazing three years ago), I hoped it would prove beneficial for my heifers,” Austin says. “I have noticed using intensive grazing the pastures grew more quickly, and the heifers are able to grow without being fed as much feed.”

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2018 National FFA Convention – Missouri Tidbits

  • 518 American Degree Recipients


  • National Officer Candidate – Sydney Mason


  • 5 Teachers receiving Honorary AM. Degree

    Charli J. Baugh – Joplin; Jay Craven – Holden; Paul Crews – Glasgow; Kelli Nolting – Carl Junction; Kyle Whittaker – Marshfield.


  • 16 National Delegates


  • 6 National Talent Performers

Sierra Barker, North Callaway; Skyler Barker, North Callaway; Maggie Frakes, Portageville; Brett Griesbaum, Palmyra; Matthew Huchteman, Dadeville; Hunter Todd, Odessa.

  • 16 National Chorus Members

Ryan Altman, Winfield; Bethany Bailey, Gallatin; Emily Bilyeu, California; Sierra Bruse, Princeton; Trenton Gabirel, Worth County; Patience Lockhart, Nevada; Logan Lucas, Monroe City; Macie McNeely, Gallatin; Chloe Moss, Crocker; Dylan Murdock, Couch; Dallin Nield, Miller; Kylee Peters, Higbee; Connor Pfaff, Monroe City; Konner Sisseck, Nevada; Jill Stundebeck, Salisbury; Colin Wilburn, Van-Far.


  • 13 National Band Members

Aubrey Bunge, Van-Far; Trace Chambers, Fayette; Cathryn Denny, Carl Junction; Haleigh Ferguson, Smithton; Emily Korff, North Callaway; Kimberly Niemeyer, Bowling Green; Tara Schnelting, Owensville; Avery Shultz, Memphis; Olivia Sloan, Salisbury; Luke Vaughn, Marceline; Jacob Wilson, Gallatin; Cory Word, Saxony Lutheran; Koltan York, Crocker


  • 4 Individuals receiving Honorary AM. Degree

Colleen Abbott, Columbia; Hilary Black, Jefferson City; Doug Kueker, Lake Ozark; Jackie Lacy, Maryville.


  • Hall of States – Cassville FFA



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2018 Missouri National Finalists

American Star Farmer Finalists

Austin Stanton – Centralia

Agriscience Fair – 9 Finalists
  • Animal Systems – Division 4 – Dylan Sparks/Izabella Kidwell – Troy
  • Animal Systems – Division 5 – Daryin Sharp – Bolivar
  • Animal Systems – Division 6 – Jenna Hahn/ Colli Nichols – Troy
  • Environ Services/NRS – Division 4 – Megan Hargis/ Lexi Vickrey  – Troy
  • Environ Services/NRS – Division 5 – Isaiah Massey – Troy
  • Environ Services/NRS – Division 6 – Jordan M iller/Tyler Linneman – Carrollton
  • Food Products – Division 5 – Preston McDowell – Tuscumbia
  • Plant Systems – Divison 5 – Addison Burns – Gallatin
  • Social Systems – Division 6 – Katy Grant & Allie Lock – Carrollton

Proficiency Awards – National Finalists (11)
  • Agricultural Sales – Placement – Hank Hoeppner – Higginsville
  • Agriscience Research – Integrated Systems – Sara Gammon – Drexel
  • Dairy Production Entrepreneurship – Austin Freund – Concordia
  • Diversified Horticulture – Natasha Jenkins – Boonville
  • Environmental Science/Natural Resources Management –Cameron Gehlert – Linn
  • Equine Science – Placement – Jacob Blank – Richland
  • Forage Production – Hannah Strain – Rolla
  • Goat Production – Riley Tade – Ashland
  • Grain Production – Entrepreneurship – Jacob Dierking – Santa Fe
  • Specialty Crop Production – Grace Box – Neosho
  • Swine Production – Placement – Brenden Kleiboeker – Pierce City

National Chapter Awards
  • 31 Three Star Chapters
  • Model of Excellence Finalist  – Marshall FFA and Paris FFA
  • Premier Chapter – Growing Leaders Finalists – Marshall

CDE Participants
  • Ag Issues – Eldon
  • AG Sales – Eldon
  • AG Mechanics – North Shelby
  • Agronomy – Elsberry
  • Conduct of Meetings – Troy
  • Creed – Kaitlin Kleiboeker – Pierce City
  • Dairy Cattle – Butler
  • Dairy Cattle Handlers-Grant Dohle,Pleasant Hope
  • Employment Skills – Jayla Wortman, Neosho
  • Environmental/Nat Res. – Mount Vernon
  • Extemp Speaking – Hattie Grisham, Eldon
  • Farm Bus. Mgt – Slater
  • Floriculture – Owensville
  • Food Science – Columbia
  • Forestry – Stockton
  • Horse – Columbia
  • Livestock – Nevada
  • Meats – Paris
  • Milk Quality – Wheaton
  • Nursery/Landscape – Audrain Co. R-VI
  • Parliamentary – Tipton
  • Poultry – Paris
  • Public Speaking – Brenden Kleiboeker, Pierce City


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Chase Your Dreams

Shelby Davies

Shelby Davies – VP

When we are little, we are told to always follow our dreams. Everyone’s dreams look a little different, but the summer of 2006 my only dream was to catch a peacock. During two weeks at the Blacktail Ranch, a dude ranch nestled deep in Montana’s Rocky Mountains, I tried everything my 6-year-old brain could think of to reach my dream. I tried outrunning them, sneak-attacking them, lassoing them, and I even tried trapping them in a corner! Nothing worked. As we were getting ready to leave the ranch Tag, the ranch owner finally took pity on me. He got a bucket of feed from the barn, brought it to me and told me to wait calmly and quietly. Sure enough, soon the peacocks were flocking around me, and I finally got to live out my dream of petting a peacock.


Fall is such a promising time in the FFA. Classes have just started up and as FFA members we are tasked with figuring out what we want to do with the rest of the year. Just like 6-year-old Shelby had a dream of catching a peacock, we also need to dream dreams that will propel us through this new-year in FFA.


The first step is figuring out what your dream is. A great place to look for ideas you want to accomplish is our website, There, you will find links to all the amazing career development events, leadership development events, camps, trips, proficiencies and so much more that are available in our organization. With all the options available, I have no doubt that you will quickly find one that you can make into a dream worth chasing!

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Fall Is Upon Us

Allie Lock - VP

Allie Lock – VP

Fall is my favorite season — from spending days walking around pumpkin patches to traveling into corn mazes and raking up leaves to nights spent at bonfires gathered around family and friends. But as fall comes upon us, it also comes with more responsibilities.


One very large event that occurs in the middle of fall is the annual National FFA Convention. Each year, my FFA Chapter takes a select few students out to either compete or participate in national convention. My sophomore year of high school, I was lucky enough to be chosen.


National FFA Convention was the highlight of my year, and I had a blast attending different workshops and speakers with my friends. As the event came to a close, it was time to get back to school. But when we came back, I found it difficult to get caught up in my classes. I had not asked my teachers for work beforehand, and I had not known about different assignments that would be due when I got back. As a result, I had to spend more time figuring out how to get caught up and ended up missing even more assignments. Eventually, everything did even out, my grades still took a hit because of it.


FFA members, fall is a busy time and the year will only get busier. Prioritizing our time is more important than ever. As you begin participating in various clubs and organizations, be sure to inform your teachers of what you might miss and to work on assignments ahead of time, you could even buy a planner! Whatever it is you need to do to stay organized, do it. If you stay ahead of the game, you can spend more time doing all your favorite fall activities, whether it is attending national convention or fallinginto leaf piles.

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October Treats

Madelyn Derks

Madelyn Derks – VP

Crunch. Crackle. Snap. I anxiously walk the pathway to my grandma’s house. I slowly raise my finger and press the doorbell. Ding! The door cracks open and I scream…. TRICK OR TREAT!


Every October, my mom would sew my two brothers and I matching Halloween costumes. One year, I was Cruella De Ville with my two Dalmatian puppies and another year, I was Snow White with my dwarfs, Grumpy and Sleepy. From carving pumpkins to watching Hocus Pocus, I loved this chilly season.


But October doesn’t just bring us Halloween. For those of us in agriculture, it’s late nights in the field. It’s watching your dad work hard to reap the product of his toil. It’s the bright lights from the combine and the smell of dirt on a cold evening. It’s harvest.


All around us farmers are working hard to harvest their crops. What are you doing to showcase your hard work?


Will you take the time to harvest the opportunities that FFA has to offer?


Before we know it, some of us will be traveling to National FFA Convention, competing in fall speaking contests, and participating in our chapter activities. As FFA members we have the chance to work hard to achieve a goal, try something new or make a new friend. It’s all up to us. It can be scary to try something new. It’s hard to participate when we’re much more comfortable alone. Just like farmers, though, harvest season is not always easy.


FFA members, I challenge you to harvest every opportunity that comes your way this week, this month, this year. I challenge you to give it your all. Give workshops, sessions, contests, events 110 percent just like our fellow farmers are giving it their all in the fields. Make this your time to develop to your fullest potential.

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“Just One” – 2018 National FFA Convention Theme

Regan Ragsdale

Regan Ragsdale – Secretary

It’s been just one of those days. Just one of those months. I’m just one person. It’s just one word.


Going through the days, it is easy to think that just one action can’t have much impact. Just one little thing really can’t help or hurt anyone. We let ourselves think that our days are average — that things we say don’t have impact — that we truly cannot have an enormous effect on others.


But, at the end of the day, just one act can go toward something much greater.

The 2018 National FFA Convention theme “Just One” signifies the epitome of how we can make a difference in other’s lives. Missouri FFA will be traveling to Indianapolis, Indiana, to embark on a few great days of learning. What will you do in Indianapolis?


Will you try just one workshop to better your leadership skills? Will you walk up and say “hi” to just one New York FFA member at the Expo? Will you soak up just one keynote speaker at a session and take his or her words to heart?


Missouri FFA, we have the chance to leave a lasting impact in Indy this year. There are 653,359 National FFA members. We can each be just one person that benefits our organization. If each of the 653,359 members do just one positive action, can you imagine the influence we could have?


So do it. Just one random act of kindness. Send up just one prayer. Be just one advocate for agriculture. Have just one fabulous day. Be just one person, because just one person can make all the difference.

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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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