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Back to School

Back-to-school season can be an overwhelming time for parents and students alike. Between picking out classes, trying new sports and deciding on organizations to join, high school freshmen have an especially busy season on their hands. The Cass Career Center FFA Chapter officers noticed the effect this was having on their first-year members’ level of participation and took action by creating a Greenhand Information Night and Ice Cream Social to be held the second or third week of school to boost involvement.


“The main goal is for Greenhands and their parents to see the opportunities in FFA and get excited for those opportunities,” said Jason Dieckhoff, a Cass Career Center FFA Chapter advisor. “We started hosting our Greenhand Information Night and Ice Cream Social in 2016.  Our chapter officers started the event because the year prior, it took about half the year before Greenhand members felt very comfortable coming to chapter activities.  We wanted to increase the participation level of Greenhands earlier in the year.” To build participation, the chapter began by increasing awareness of opportunities and events.


“We invite all new Greenhands, as well as their parents,” Dieckhoff said. “Chapter FFA officers start the evening with opening ceremonies and a president’s welcome. Our treasurer goes over the dues for the year and what dues pay for. The rest of the evening, Greenhands and their parents enjoy ice cream and toppings while going around to different stations to listen to chapter officers talk about opportunities in FFA and the ag program.”


These stations typically cover opportunities like chapter field trips, trapshooting, Supervised Agricultural Experiences, chapter fundraising, Career Development Events, Leadership Development Events and more.


Additionally, the event is meant to connect chapter officers with the Greenhand members. Coming from a larger school, the officers might not already know incoming freshmen. Building this relationship early in the year makes it easier for the officers to interact with Greenhands in the halls of the high school, during lunch or even at other school activities. Dieckhoff said the first-year students also enjoy hearing about events directly from the chapter officers themselves.


“Greenhands react better to their peers than to hearing opportunities from advisors or their parents,” he explained. “By letting Greenhands interact one-on-one with chapter officers, they feed off the enthusiasm of the officers and get excited about what they can do in FFA.”


Kara Vergouven, a second-year member of the Cass Career Center FFA Chapter, agreed and said the most memorable part of the evening was hearing from the officers. She attended the event last year.


“My favorite part about the Greenhand Night was talking to the previous FFA members and learning about all the different things that the organization had to offer. Listening to them had me even more excited about being a part of FFA and cleared up all the questions I had,” Vergouven said.


Dieckhoff said the event has accomplished its main purpose, and there has been an increase in Greenhand participation at events throughout the year. He also cited benefits such as increased parent communication and an established professional tone for their organization.


Vergouven said the Greenhand Information Night and Ice Cream Social increased her involvement because she was excited about pursuing the opportunities discussed.


“Before the event, I didn’t realize all the different activities they had,” she said. “Once I went and found out what they did, I went to most of the activities. Now, I encourage everyone to try FFA because I think they will like it very much.”

— By Brandelyn Martin

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FFA Helps Feed Missouri

The third annual Drive to Feed Kidstook place on Tuesday, Aug. 13 at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia. More than 750 Missouri FFA members from 73 chapters across the state gathered to pack meals for food insecure families. They exceeded their goal by packing more than 128,400 meals.


Kids feeding kids is the focus of the 2019 Drive to Feed Kids, and Missouri agriculture is banding together once again to address the alarming reality that one in five Missouri children regularly face hunger. The goal of this collaboration is to raise funds to provide food for hungry Missouri children and stand in the gap for those children who face food insecurity.


According to recent data from Feeding America’s “Map the Meal Gap,” more than 240,000 children in Missouri do not know where their next meal will come from. Missouri counties with the highest rates of food insecurity are disproportionately rural, where one out of every three children face food insecurity.


“We continue to see food insecurity grow in rural areas,” said Gary Marshall, Missouri Farmers Care chairman. “Through Drive to Feed Kids, we have the opportunity to raise awareness, while showcasing the tremendous work of farmers and ranchers who leverage science, technology, their expertise and natural resources to provide food for the world.”

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2018 Missouri Food Insecurity Day
Jul 26 2019

Missouri Corn and Missouri FFA Helping Build Future Leaders


Missouri’s top 30 FFA high school seniors completed the fifth annual Helping Youth Prepare for Excellence (HYPE) FFA Academy June 25-27, in Columbia, Mo. The three-day intensive program is designed to inform and empower students to effectively engage on pressing agriculture topics. Since 2015, the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council has sponsored and facilitated the academy in conjunction with Missouri FFA. This year’s academy was hosted at the University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.


“It is very important we get out and tell our story,” noted Missouri Corn Merchandising Council Chairman Mike Moreland during a HYPE panel. “Whether it’s inviting folks to the farm, visiting legislators in the capitol or sharing online, it is more important than ever that farmers – and the next generation – have a place at the table. This program is very beneficial in preparing students to be that voice.”


Over the three-day conference, students participated in sessions promoting advocacy training, social media, communication, and stakeholder collaboration. In addition, topics included overcoming adversity, developing a personal brand, and engaging those with opposing viewpoints. Students learned from farmers, industry representatives, social media experts, and others on how to effectively advocate about issues facing the industry. The group explored the Missouri Soybean Bay Farm and its innovations in crop production, research, and soybean biotechnology.


In culmination, participants testified on key issues during mock hearings with legislators at the Missouri State Capitol. This year’s topics included tariffs and trade, eminent domain, lab-produced meat labeling, river management, and the federal Renewable Fuel Standard. Missouri Sen. Mike Bernskoetter (R-Jefferson City) and State Reps. Rusty Black (R-Chillicothe), Barbara Washington (D-Kansas City), Don Rone (R-Portageville), Jeff Porter (R-Montgomery City), Kent Haden (R-Mexico), Louis Riggs (R-Hannibal), and Tracy McCreery (D-St. Louis) interacted with and challenged the students. Missouri Corn CEO Gary Marshall provided the closing keynote, empowering participants to use their newfound skills as they continue to represent Missouri’s number one industry.


The Missouri Corn Merchandising Council is an organization of corn growers dedicated to developing and expanding corn markets, educating growers and customers, and exploring new research opportunities. The National FFA Organization makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education. Contact Missouri Corn Associate Director of Communications Hilary Black at (800) 827-4181 or for more information about HYPE Academy.

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2018 Missouri Food Insecurity Day
Jul 26 2019

MO FFA Needs You!

Our friends at Missouri Farmers Care have been diligent in their efforts to ensure the success of the 2019 Missouri FFA Food Insecurity Day and the Drive to Feed Kids at the Missouri State Fair.


Growing up in a rural community, I would have never imagined food insecurity would be a challenge faced by those around me. Yet, the numbers are staggering. One in five children in Missouri are food insecure and in rural areas that number rises to one in three. Mother Teresa once said, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” As Missouri FFA members we have the opportunity to help diminish an issue that is faced by many within our state.

On Tuesday, Aug. 13, at the Missouri State Fairgrounds over 750 Missouri FFA members will work to pack more than 100,000 meals to combat food insecurity across our state. We will work together to ensure that children across the state spend their time focusing on being a kid rather than worrying about when their next meal will be. From now until then, we are tasked with raising funds in support of Feeding Missouri, the coalition of six regional food banks in our state.


Now we need your help! As a leader in your community, you have the opportunity to help Missouri Farmers Care by magnifying awareness of childhood food insecurity in our state. If we all help feed just one, the possibilities of impact are endless. By working together, we can minimize the number of hungry children in our own communities!


How can you help:

  • Ask your neighbors, friends and local businesses to donate to the cause.Donations can be made online at: by texting “Drive2” to 44321.
  • Spread the word about the Drive to Feed Kids through social media.You can do this by sharing posts from Missouri Farmers Care or utilizing the attached social media assets on your chapter’s page. On July 30, add the Drive to Feed Kids Facebook profile filter to your profile picture.
  • Pre-Event Press Release: Chapters participating at the State FFA Food Insecurity Service Day can complete the attached template press release and share it with their local newspapers prior to Aug. 8.Show your community the great projects your chapter is helping with.

If we all do our part together we can bridge the gap of food insecurity. Thanks for all of your help! We couldn’t do this without you.

— ByJessica Janorschke, Missouri FFA State Vice President


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Jul 26 2019

Everyday Advocates

Telling agriculture’s story is no easy task, but thanks to their time in the blue jacket, a number of Farm Journal’s staff are better equipped to get the job done.


Sara Schafer, editor of Top Producer, was a member of the Jamestown FFA chapter and served as Area 6 state vice president from 2003 to 2004. Her supervised agricultural experience project included raising, butchering, and selling broiler chickens, as well as straw production.

In the end, she says everything she does helps bring information to farmers, which is why she enjoys what she does so much.


“Why my role is really interesting is I have a really defined audience,” Schafer says. “So, the information I put out is to help farmers be successful today and in the future. They need to gain a competitive edge and learn the business side of farm management so they can grow into the future and be sustainable. Helping them to do this is what creates an industry that will continue to be successful.”


Susan Rhode, director of marketing at Farm Journal, echoes this desire. Rhode was a member of the Stet FFA chapter, served as Missouri State FFA Secretary from 1989 to 1990, and was on a state winning soils-judging team.


“I love knowing that what we do benefits the farmer every day,” Rhode says. “I remember growing up in a farm family, you had stacks of magazines everywhere. Farm Journal was always on our coffee table. It was in the stack of magazines next to my dad’s recliner. He made it a point to make it a part of his day to help his career. I think that speaks for itself.”


Farm Journal not only encompasses the 141-year-old flagship magazine Farm Journal, but also includes a multitude of other outlets, including print, broadcast, events, market research, custom content, and mobile and digital platforms.


All three professionals acknowledged that part of what brought them to agricultural journalism were their experiences in FFA.


“Truthfully, I didn’t know ag journalism existed until I went to my first state FFA convention and stumbled onto the ag journalism booth from Mizzou,” Schafer says. “Then, it hit me. It was a perfect combination of my love for farming and my love for writing. FFA gave me exposure to the field that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I became familiar with the publications and met people in the industry.”


Through FFA, one of these connections was Joann Pipkin, editor for Missouri FFA Today.


“I met Joann at Missouri Agribusiness Academy and reached out. Before long, she was assigning me stories,” Schafer says. “I wrote for Missouri FFA Today for several years, and that gave me a great opportunity to write for a state publication in upper high school and throughout college.”


Along with learning how to network and building her confidence in writing, Schafer says FFA prepared her for her career through Career Development Events and Leadership Development Events.


“I learned a lot of agronomic and business skills in my ag classes that I can lean back on,” Schafer says. “Being on the agronomy team helps me now when writing about plant health. Communication skills go so far beyond public speaking. Learning how to communicate your points can help anyone, but really helps if you pick journalism.”


Sonja Begemann, Farm Journal’s seeds and production editor, says looking back, her early involvement in FFA foreshadowed where her career would end up, and offered a bit of irony.


“My least favorite contest team was the agronomy team, and today everything I do is agronomy related,” Begemann says. “On top of that, my first office was reporter, and even throughout school I continued to write for our newspaper. So, there was some foreshadowing. I remember calling my advisor after my first job selling seed out of college. I said, ‘Hey, do you remember how much I hated agronomy? Well that’s what I do now.’”


Begemann was a member of the Fair Play FFA chapter, served as area 10 state vice president from 2010 to 2011 and won first place individual at the national level in the Dairy Foods Career Development Event.


This love of competition is one thing that has carried her through her career, and after coming in second in districts, she said it taught her that she would only be as successful as she set herself up to be.


“I’m not competitive with coworkers, but with others in the industry,” Begemann says. “I want to cover things better, more in depth and be someone farmers can trust. It’s up to you what you want to do with anything in your life, whether it’s a silly contest or your career.”


Just as Begemann strives to be someone farmers can trust, Rhode has had opportunities within and outside of Farm Journal to be a trustworthy source for consumers.


When her first son Isaac was born, Rhode took a 14-year-hiatus from her career in the agricultural industry. During this time, she took on a new position at an engineering firm in Kansas City, Missouri.


“The biggest thing I learned was working with people who didn’t grow up on a farm and weren’t just like me,” Rhode says. “I became the advocate in the building. So, when anything happened in ag, people came to me. It totally changed my perspective. When we work in ag, we talk about being an advocate, but when I jumped out of ag for my career, I had never been in that position before. I was a trusted source of information in people’s eyes about agriculture.”


According to Rhode, you can tell agriculture’s story no matter where you are if you gain the skills and knowledge to do so, and FFA is a great place to start.

—By Alexa Nordwald Hunziker

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Jul 26 2019

133 Meals Per Minute

Two years ago, the Missouri FFA Association began co-hosting an annual statewide food insecurity day at the Missouri State Fair to package meals for six food banks across the state. Mexico FFA members have participated in this event, as well as a similar one during the Washington Leadership Conference (WLC), which sparked an interest in making a difference within their home county.

Mexico FFA members and other students in the Mexico School District spent President’s Day this year packaging 20,000 meals for the Laura Miller George Help Center to distribute to families in need within Audrain County.


The food insecurity rate in Audrain County is a staggering 23%, and the Mexico School District has numerous students receiving free breakfast and lunch. Kendra Allen, Mexico FFA advisor, explained the need to the FFA members, which inspired them to help make sure other students and their families have food in the evenings and on weekends.


“The school is on a grant so all the elementary [students] up to eighth grade get a free breakfast and lunch,” Allen said. “For a lot of our kids, that’s what they eat in the day. Our chapter didn’t think that was right, so we wanted to help provide the Help Center with additional food so they could give it out a little more freely.”


The Mexico FFA officer team began seeking sponsors for the events in the summer of 2018. Funds donated by numerous local sponsors purchased the materials for the meals through the Meals of Hope program.


“The officer team got all the sponsors, and then we incorporated the middle school ag program and other organizations in the Mexico High School to help us,” Allen said. “The officer team raised enough money to package 20,000 meals!”


Twenty-five Mexico FFA members and nearly 50 other students and volunteers packaged the macaroni and cheese meals. Each included a soy protein packet, fortified noodles, and a cheese packet. The meals contained six servings, making it a large enough portion to feed a family.


All of the local sponsors were printed on t-shirts to recognize their contribution, but the sponsors contributing larger amounts were invited to the event to package meals with the students.


“The ones who came in thought it was a surreal deal,” Allen said. “They didn’t really understand what we were doing when we went and asked for the money at first. But, once they got their hands in there and were packaging meals, they thought it was really cool that we did it, and the kids really wanted to give back to the community.”


Allen described the event as an opportunity for the students to see a different side of each other as they worked in teams throughout the day. To package such a large number of meals in one day, the students had to reach outside their comfort zone. That allowed them to see the impact their hard work was making on their community in need.


“When we loaded all those meals onto the trailer and the trucks to be taken to the Help Center, I think it was a moment of ‘wow, I just helped these people for a couple of days,’” Allen said.


Allen believes the experience opened the eyes of her students, encouraging them to be more supportive of their community members and peers.


While it might have taken only a few hours out of the students’ day off of school, their hard work and inspired hearts made a huge difference within Audrain County. With the support of the Mexico community and the driven mindset of FFA members, the chapter has intentions of making this an annual event.

—by Julie Choate

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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

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

—by Julie Choate

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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 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: 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.

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

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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 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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