Missouri FFA and Agriculture Education | Blog
Latest news and reflections by Missouri FFA officers.
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Hands-On Skills

Pursuing a career in veterinary technology is rewarding and requires passionate individuals with a distinct drive to help animals. Crowder College is graduating veterinary technicians who are meeting a hiring demand in clinics across a multi-state region. Recently, the Crowder College Veterinary Technology program was named one of the top 30 veterinary technology programs in the United States, according to veterinarianedu.org.

Shawna Estep, Veterinary Technology program director, explained that graduates of the program are receiving multiple job offers, allowing them to leverage better salaries.


“Placement rates are 100% for our graduates,” Estep said. “We have more open positions than we have graduates.”


The three-year program housed on the Crowder College campus in Neosho, Missouri, accepts a maximum of 20 students per year through a selective admission process. To be accepted students must have a 2.0 grade point average (GPA), 20 hours of veterinary observation, ACT scores, three letters of recommendation, and be at certain levels of math and reading. The program, accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), includes 78 required credit hours, and the students graduate with an associate’s in applied science in veterinary technology.


Students in the program are taking courses in a variety of topics, including radiology, large animal medicine, clinical pathology, pharmacology, veterinary dentistry, avian medicine and microbiology. In addition to the courses, veterinary technology students will complete 320 hours of clinical internship throughout two years in veterinary clinics.


“We strive to maintain a high quality of graduates with great hands-on clinical skills who are immediately employable and can be irreplaceable to a veterinary practice,” Estep said. “Students take a licensing exam at the end of the program and we can proudly say that our pass rate is at a three-year-average of 89%, compared to a national average of 70%.”



Veterinary technology students practice on large, small, exotic and avian animals, a requirement of AVMA-accredited programs. The program at Crowder College has a large-animal emphasis and offers labs focusing on radiology and anatomy as well as a dog kennel and cattery.


“Our program at Crowder has a large- animal emphasis because of our 300-acre school farm that raises cattle, sheep, goats and horses all of the time,” Estep said. “Students are in hands-on, large-animal labs from their first to last semester.”


Aside from the school farm, the Veterinary Technology department includes a number of facilities and laboratories, including an anatomy lab housing microscopes with the ability to project to a Smart Board, along with numerous anatomy models. The department also is home to a realistic treatment room in a veterinary clinic with diagnostic blood machines, autoclaves, recovery cages, and an anesthetic machine.


In addition to the facilities, Crowder College maintains a pet adoption program each semester. Veterinary technology students care for dogs and cats on campus that come from local humane societies.


“The animals come early in a semester and are adopted out at the end of the semester,” Estep said. “We have had over 300 animals rescued from shelters and humane societies that have been a part of our program.”


While the animals are in the program, the students practice their skills through laboratory work on the animals. These tasks range from simple physical exams to x-rays, vaccinations, IV and catheter placement as well as assisting surgical procedures including spays and neuters, endotracheal intubations, anesthetic monitoring, and fluid therapy, among many other responsibilities.


During the program’s tenure, Crowder College has rescued more than 300 animals from shelters and humane societies. Estep explained that students often get attached to — and fall in love with — the animals and adopt them themselves. However, the animals are up for adoption to the public as well and listed on the Crowder College website at www.crowder.edu.

—by Julie Choate

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Are You Tough Enough

Andrew Moore

Andrew Moore – State VP

“Tough times never last, but tough people do.”


Raging flood waters, devastating weather phenomena and turmoiled markets are just some of the obstacles we face in agriculture. From the Dust Bowl and Great Depression of the 1930s, to the American Farm Crisis of the 1980s, to the unprecedented floods of 1993, our industry has persevered one struggle at a time. Agriculturalists embody resilience and adaptability. FFA members, you too can become adaptable to whatever life throws your way.


Becoming adaptable to lifes situations is something that many of us are not good at. There are a few guiding principles that can help us develop this ability.


The first step in solving a problem is to recognize that it does exist,” Zig Ziglar said. Acknowledging the circumstances we go through and the personal weaknesses that got us there will help us be more adaptable to potholes down the road.


The second step to adaptability is to analyze how others who were faced with a challenge overcame their situation. Understanding how they busted through their roadblocks can help us emerge victorious.


The final step to adaptability is finding a mentor to guide us through this thing we call life. Having a mentor who has walked in our shoes can increase our chances of success when hitting those bumpy spots in life.


Our creed states, “I know the joys and discomforts of agricultural life and hold an inborn fondness for those associations which, even in hours of discouragement, I cannot deny.” FFA members, the time will come when we face hours of discouragement. Know this, “Tough times never last, but tough people do!” – Robert Schuller. Just like our industry has adapted and persevered through every obstacle, you, too, can adapt. Don’t let anything keep you from your dreams.

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Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Natalie Koch

Natalie Koch – VP

“There is no growth in the comfort zone, and no comfort in the growth zone.” These 15 words changed my perspective on life when past Missouri State FFA Vice President Isabel Legg said them during her reflections at Public Speaking Academy (PSA). This was the summer before my junior year of high school, and, up until this point, going out of my comfort zone was a risk I was not willing to take.


I have a reputation for getting homesick, and, quite frankly. both of my advisors did not think I could make it through the roughly 50 hours at PSA. However, this camp took me far out of my comfort zone. Taking a topic and transforming it into a speech in two days was a challenge, but presenting this speech in front of judges was another daunting task that forced me to step out of my comfort zone. Not to mention, I was able to stay the entire time without getting homesick.


The following week, I attended FFA Camp where I took a leap of faith and decided to deliver reflections one night in front of the entire camp… without note cards. I thought it sounded fun when the directors talked about it, but when the time came to stand up in front of the entire camp and give reflections, I was ready to throw in the towel. Afterward, I knew as challenging as this experience was, it was far more rewarding in the end.


The growth zone is a scary and uncomfortable place to be. There will be plenty of times when you would rather stay in your comfort zone, but the real reward comes when you step outside of the comfort zone and grow into someone you never dreamed you’d become.

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LIVE from Nashville!

Ten of your Missouri State FFA Officers traveled June 13, 2019, to Nashville, Tennessee, to film three episodes of FFA Todayon RFD-TV.  The show uses state officers from across the nation to host the episodes.

Those attending were Brenden Kleiboeker, Isaiah Massey, Alexandra Gast, Elizabeth Brooks, Kensie Darst, Jessica Janorschke, Natalie Koch, Matthew Morgan, Tyler Schuster and Kate Thompson.

These episodes are slated to air on RFD-TV on July 1, July 8,  and July 15.  The new episodes air at 6 p.m. CT each week.  Encore airings take place each Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. Central Time and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. CT.

RFD-TV understands not all cable/satellite companies carry RFD.  They do have some options for you. We cannot share the episodes due to FCC guidelines and sponsor agreements through social media channels.  You can subscribe to RFD Country Club at https://www.rfdcc.com/. You can also subscribe to the agriculture portion through TV apps such as Firestick and Roku. Here is an article to help you navigate watching RFD-TV without cable: https://cordcutting.com/how-to-watch/rfd-tv. You can also find clips of the FFA Today show on the RFD-TV You Tube Channel.

FFA advisors and FFA members,RFD-TV is looking for viewer submitted ideas and stories. If you have a story idea, here’s a YouTube video  to help you with your video submission.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xt9_uL8e5Lg&pbjreload=10

These stories can be service oriented, alumni or SAE highlights.  If you have questions, contact Emily Buck, FFA Today Producer. Her email is ffatoday@rfdtv.com

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Serve to Make a Difference

Alexandra Gast - VP

Alexandra Gast, Vice President

I didn’t want to be here. Four years ago, I did NOT want to be involved in FFA. I was completely apprehensive to be involved in FFA and Agriculture because I was scared. I was scared that my dad was going to be right all the times he said “you would love it if you gave it a chance”, I was scared that I would constantly hear “oh, you only get that opportunity because your dad is the ag teacher”, I was scared that I would live in the shadow of the upperclassmen and wouldn’t ever find my place.


I spent more time being scared of the thing, rather than just doing the thing. I applied at the end of my freshman year to HYMAX Academy in agreement that if I didn’t get in, I would not enroll in an ag class the next year. I put half effort into my application, and when I didn’t make it in, I was MAD. I wasn’t mad at anyone other than myself though. I decided that day I got the letter of denial, I was in it to prove Missouri FFA wrong. After the first 6 months of that mentality, and attending State FFA Leadership Camp I realized that my home was the members in the blue jackets. I found my best friends in FFA, I found my sisters and brothers in FFA, I found my future roommate through FFA, and most of all I got the opportunity to serve FFA; through the Chapter, Area, and now State.


Missouri FFA, I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t matter how many awards you get, how many hands you shake, how many pins are hanging on the inside of your jacket, the level you serve at, or the number of times your name is in local newspaper; you can serve, and if you make even one positive impact, you made a difference in the world.

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Right Time, Right Place

“Being in the right place at the right time produces the right outcome,” is a saying that I heard way more than I wanted to as a kid. While I shrugged off these comments my father made when I was younger, I have realized that this statement holds weight when it comes to FFA. As FFA members we can make lasting memories, impact lives and make connections that could lead to future employment opportunities.


It is important to remember as we navigate our FFA journey that we must always be present. Not only must we be present physically, but also mentally and emotionally. Being present doesn’t mean just taking in what you need yourself, but being present for others.


FFA members can always be present for others whether it is at camp, at a local business or even sitting in an agriculture class. It is hard to control the outcome of a situation, but it is easy to devote time and energy to being in the right place mentally for every situation.


Life can give us lemons, and the outcome depends on our reactions. Being mentally present and ready for anything that is thrown at you will inevitably produce a more desirable outcome. Always remember that as a FFA member, you must be present in order to produce the outcome you want. I challenge you to be in the right place to change lives and impact community members as much as possible.

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Moving Out of the Clouds into the Sunshine

As many of you have probably noticed, it has been raining quite a bit this spring, especially in my hometown of Silex. With that being said, several Missouri farmers have not had many opportunities to get into the fields. As of May 8, I had not spent a single hour in the tractor seat yet this spring, instead of the dozens of hours and hundreds of acres that would have normally been covered by that time.  However, as summer comes into full swing and the weather begins to clear, the opportunity to plant looks much brighter and brings hope for an immensely successful summer for agriculture in Missouri.


Many Missouri FFA members may have also had a nasty, unproductive spring. It might have been that your career development event or leadership development event did not go as well as planned, or you didn’t get that proficiency award or officer position. These unfortunate events serve as the rain on the parade of FFA members. They are all hard as they’re happening, but they provide positive learning experiences for the future, just like the rain provides the nourishment for plants throughout the summer.


As farmers across the state are looking to the summer sun to grow their corn to the next level, FFA members should also look into the sun to create a brighter future by learning from the unfortunate storms of our pasts. Some of these sunny days include the great opportunities that can be had at events like FFA Camp, Helping Youth Maximize their Agricultural eXperience (HYMAX), Public Speaking Academy (PSA) and Helping Youth Prepare for Excellence (HYPE).


Just like the corn all across Missouri will soak up the rays of sun this summer, I encourage all of you to soak up the new skills that can be learned and use them to build a successful year.

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Humble and Kind

Missouri State FFA Convention is complete, chapter banquets are in full swing, and the school year is coming to a close. Across the state, FFA members are being recognized for their hard work and dedication. Sometimes, it is easy to get caught up in the heat of it all, but let’s not forget what got us to this moment.


One of my all time favorite songs is “Humble and Kind” by Tim McGraw. This song is full of advice to keep in mind during our FFA careers. One line that rings true during this spring season is, “When the dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you, when the work you put in is realized, let yourself feel the pride but always stay humble and kind.”


Many of our dreams come true at state convention and chapter banquets as a result of our hard work. We all learn valuable life lessons putting us one step closer to our goals. However, every dream reached is the culmination of the hard work of multiple people: ourselves, advisors, parents, community members and many others. It is definitely our right to feel proud, but let’s not forget these other supporters. Dropping them a card of thanks or giving them a phone call is a simple gesture to show our gratitude and humbleness toward them.


Near the end of the song, McGraw sings this line, “When you get where you’re goin’, don’t forget to turn back around, help the next one in line, always stay humble and kind.” To me, this line is what FFA is all about. FFA is about having experiences of our own and using them to enrich the lives of others. While FFA gives us many life experiences and skills, they are useless unless we use them to help others. Past FFA members have given much to us. Let us continue to give to the next generation.


FFA members, we are part of an amazing organization. We have many outstanding supporters and influencers. As we go about life this year, let’s not forget our supporters or the FFA members coming behind us. Let us be thankful, humble and kind in all that we do!

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Get Your Gobbler

My absolute favorite outdoor pastime is turkey hunting. In fact, I am obsessed with it! From practicing my turkey calling ability, to buying new decoys, to sighting in my shotgun, I did everything imaginable to get prepared for this year’s turkey season.


Season rolled around and I was absolutely pumped to get to the woods and watch the morning come alive! Unfortunately, my first day of hunting was plagued with high wind gusts and cold temperatures. I did not see or hear a single turkey! Then, I was out of town for more than five days of Missouri’s season, and it seemed like the weather just kept getting worse, which created bad hunting conditions.


Finally, it was down to the last day of season, and I was beyond worried that I would not get to fill my tag. That final morning came, and the turkeys were gobbling everywhere! I was blessed to be able to harvest a big gobbler at 7 o’clock on the last day of season.


FFA members, I was discouraged many times this season. It would have been easy for me to throw in the towel and give up on something that I loved and cared about, but I stayed to the very last day. Sometimes, not giving up, and sticking to the bitter end will help you find success. Don’t give up, and happy hunting, FFA members!

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This is a No-‘Comfort-Zone’ Zone

Ocean air, salty hair? More like no air, sweaty hair. Ah, FFA Camp. The most wonderful event of the summer. A time of growing, leadership and meeting new people.


This summer, many FFA members will have the opportunity of attending Camp Rising Sun, where they will learn how to be Linked to Lead. It can be easy to regret coming to camp. You’re forced to stay in a wooden cabin with strangers and no air conditioning for nearly a week. You step off of a bus into what seems like the middle of nowhere, surrounded by strangers, and that doesn’t seem like a great time to most. Yet, this is where growth happens – out of your comfort zone.


Although I never had the opportunity of going to FFA Camp, I spent a weekend of my summer before senior year at Area Officer Institute (AOI) at Camp Rising Sun, where we attended workshops and presentations to learn how to be the best leaders we could be. I imagine my experience to be similar to those attending their first time at camp.


I was scared. It was miserably hot and I looked an absolute mess in front of all these people I had never met. By the end of the first day, I was ready to go home. It was too hot, and I didn’t want to play in the ag Olympics anymore. I thought to myself, “What if these people are judging me?”I was leaving butt prints of sweat everywhere I went, and I couldn’t kick a ball to save my life. I was over it.


Looking back on AOI, I don’t remember much besides these few details, but that’s because I let them take over. I was so wrapped up in my own misery that I didn’t allow myself to have as great of a time as I could have. I now wish I had valued my time at AOI and focused more on the talented speakers and presenters that stood before me. You can learn so much in FFA, but you have to be willing.


This summer, whether you are attending FFA camp or not, I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone. Take a risk. Learn something new.


So many opportunities in FFA will lead you to great things. Don’t let your fears or doubts get the best of you. It is easy to pass up an opportunity because you are scared of what might happen. Instead of thinking of all the things that could go wrong, think of what could go right. The only hindrance to success is your own comfort zone.


In FFA, you can learn great things, meet wonderful people, and have loads of fun. So step out of your comfort zone, have a great summer, and make the most of your time as an FFA member!

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5 Tips to Prepare for a Career in Ag Journalism

1. Be open.
Be open to the opportunities you’ll have, as well as to failure and advice. Deciding that you’ll only be happy in one specific job will set you up to be unhappy. Every opportunity will help you grow and make you better for wherever you end up.


2. Research constantly.
For anyone interested in an ag-related career, you can never know too much. Whatever publication you read or podcast you listen to, keep reading, listening, and watching ag news every day. Know what the issues are. That will be more impressive to your future employer than nearly anything else.


3. Write often.
Learn how to be a good writer. Every job requires writing. It’s a skill that takes time, but being a better writer will benefit you in multiple ways throughout your career. Practice, and maybe even do some freelance work with the local paper.

4. Question strategically.
Learn how to ask good questions. Journalism will continue to evolve, and a lot of the technical skills you learn in school, you might not use. At the heart of it all is the information you’re sharing and how to ask good questions that point to actionable solutions.


5. Work harder.
Be 100 percent in whatever you do, even if the first job you land isn’t what you want. Be the best salesperson, proofreader, or whatever it might be. People will take note of that, and it’ll help you in the future.

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New Custom Applicator Program Offered at State Tech

MFA Incorporated has partnered with State Technical College of Missouri in Linn, to offer a new Custom Applicator Program. The program is designed to attract mechanically inclined guys and gals from our farming communities who want to pursue careers within the agriculture industry. During the program students will participate in two summer internships, four collegiate semesters and a variety of MFA hosted agronomy and applicator training events. MFA is also offering this year’s selected students $15,000 to use toward their education as they pursue an Associate’s Degree in General Technology. This year’s program is open to five graduating high school seniors. The enrollment period is very short, so don’t delay in visiting https://www.statetechmo.edu/apply/ to submit your application.


*Program participants will be selected very soon and will start their first internship with MFA this summer. Classroom enrollment will begin in August.


For questions or more information please contact:

Jessica Kueffer,
Recruitment & Employee Development Manager at MFA Incorporated
Phone: 573-876-5212

Download Informational Packet
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Greenville FFA Lends a Hand

The past 18 months, members of the newly chartered Greenville FFA Chapter have built not only one, but two small homes to be placed in homeless communities in the St. Louis area. Greenville FFA Advisor Scott Payne got the idea to build these homes from a fellow Army Reserve Chaplain who has a servant heart for homeless individuals, specifically homeless veterans.

“When I told my FFA kids about [the homeless communities], they immediately wanted to do something about it,” Payne said. “So, we drew up some plans and decided we would build a small house.”


The 6-by-12-foot houses are only large enough to hold a set of bunk beds. Even though the houses don’t have plumbing or electricity, the facilities help make living much more bearable for homeless individuals.


“They [homeless individuals] were living under tarps and thrown over branches,” Payne explained.


Payne, who has a background in industrial education, encouraged his students to begin soliciting community businesses for material donations such as lumber, metal, and linoleum. With the support of local businesses, both homes were fully funded. The first home the chapter built was delivered to a man and his wife living in the homeless community in February 2018. The second was delivered in April of this year.


“The students bought into the project immediately, and they would all work hard during the assigned class periods,” Payne said. “They would show up after school. They would show up during free time. They just wanted to work on it and see it come to pass.”


Building the houses was used as a teaching tool in a building construction course. While building, the students had the opportunity to learn about planning, designing, estimating materials and the tenants of construction for the small houses.


Aesthetically, the homes are very pretty inside even though they are only made to house only two people. The walls and ceilings are made from tongue-and-groove pine lumber and have two windows for ventilation. To put a personal touch on the houses, Payne left a spot on the wall for each student to sign his or her first name around the words “From Your Friends at Greenville FFA.” The students in art courses also used their artistic ability to paint patriotic paintings to decorate the interior walls of the home.


The homes were delivered to a homeless community in the St. Louis area inhabited mostly by veterans. While Payne is not certain the recipients of the first small home were veterans, he is certain the person who received the home this year is a veteran.


Payne is encouraged by the commitment the Greenville FFA members have made to building the homes. While they are learning crucial building skills, they are also helping someone stay warm at night.


“On a personal note, it was great to watch the kids get excited about it,” Payne said. “Not just because they were building this, but because they knew they were helping somebody. When that lightbulb came on, I could just see it in my students’ faces. That’s what I appreciated the most out of the build itself.”


After being chartered in 2014, the Greenville FFA Chapter has become home to nearly 50 students and just graduated its first set of four-year members in 2018. The number of active freshmen joining each year encouraged Payne. With a little help from their supportive community, the fast-growing chapter is living to serve, one tiny home at a time.

—by Julie Choate

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Missouri Agriscience Fair

The Missouri Agriscience Fair was held May 14 at Memorial Union on the University of Missouri campus in Columbia. This year’s event brought in 70 research projects from 101 FFA members across the state. Thanks to this year’s sponsors, MU College of Agriculture Food and Natural Resources and Erofins U.S. BioPharma Product Testing for making the event possible. Congratulations to all who participated. Here’s a look scenes from the event.
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Find Your Best

Jessica Janorschke

Jessica Janorschke – VP

Tired, alone, and scared. You can bet that’s how I felt at five in the morning at the top of a mountain. I was in the middle of nowhere, Arizona, and I, along with 400 others, was about to run 26.2 miles. With clammy hands and a pounding heartbeat, I questioned my decision to run a marathon. When the race finally began and I started putting one foot in front of the other, my fears dissolved. Moving silently through the morning, each runners’ feet pounded to the beat of their own drum.


As another school year closes and summer begins, we are faced with the decision of simply coasting or finding opportunities to discover our beat. Whether you are preparing a speech at Public Speaking Academy, are forging new connections with members from across Missouri at FFA Camp, or are preparing for the state fair with your supervised agricultural experience, this summer provides the opportunity to better yourself. Our journey in the blue jacket is a marathon and each summer a new leg of the race begins.


Missouri FFA members, it’s natural to be nervous at the beginning of a new adventure, believe me, I’ve been there. It’s in those moments outside of our comfort zones that we grow the most. When planting a seed, we don’t look at the seed for what it is, we look at it for what it can be. I challenge you to immerse yourself in new opportunities this season and work to be the best you that ever has been.

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