Three Minnesota FFAers win national proficiency honors

INDIANAPOLIS – Three of the 11 Minnesota FFA members who were national proficiency finalists are now national winners.

Members of the Caledonia FFA Dairy Evaluation team place sixth in the nation at the National FFA Convention.

INDIANAPOLIS – Three of the 11 Minnesota FFA members who were national proficiency finalists are now national winners.

Austin Davis, of Dassel-Cokato FFA won the dairy production placement proficiency award. He works on his family's sixth generation dairy farm.

When he began working, he set several goals. First, he wanted to increase the survival rate for the farm's milk-fed calves, eventually reaching a 96 percent survival rate. He also increased overall dry matter intake per cow by 2.4 pounds a day. Davis is pursuing a degree in agronomy because he feels that is how he can best serve the family farm.

He is supported by his parents Carol Davis and C. Loring and his FFA adviser Eric Sawatzke.

The award is sponsored nationally by Kuhn North America and Nasco Division – Nasco International Inc.


Jared A. Eilertson of United South Central FFA won the diversified crop production entrepreneurship proficiency.

Eilertson, of Wells, started driving a tractor when he was eight years old, realizing at that moment that he wanted a future in farming. Five years ago, he started renting a neighbor's land, planting soybeans and corn. He yielded 176.8 bushels per acre of corn and 18.5 bushels per acre of soybeans. Eilertson performs regular maintenance on all of his equipment and upgraded his trucks for hauling.

He is supported by his parents Nancy and John and his FFA adviser Dan Dylla.

The award is sponsored nationally by CHS

Jaclyn Dingels of Redwood Valley FFA won the sheep production entrepreneurship placement award.

She has been raising Hampshire and Suffolk sheep for the past seven years. Her flock has grown from five leased ewes to 52 owned ewes and a partial interest in two leased rams. Developing a marketing strategy to sell her sheep throughout the country, she has guaranteed quality by raising her own replacement ewes instead of purchasing them in order to reduce the potential for disease transmission.

Dingels is supported by her parents Pat and Steve and her FFA adviser Jeremy Daberkow.

The award is sponsored nationally by Bimedia, Inc.


The winners of the National FFA Organization's Agricultural Proficiency Awards were announced Friday afternoon on-stage during the Sixth General Session of the 85th National FFA Convention and Expo at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Each winner was one of four national finalists in each proficiency award category and competed for the national honors during judging earlier in the week.

The National FFA Organization's Agricultural Proficiency Awards program recognizes outstanding student achievement in agribusiness gained through establishment of a new business, working for an existing company, performing agriscience research or otherwise gaining hands-on career experience. It serves as the award structure for an FFA member's supervised agricultural experience (mandatory for all FFA members) and is designed to develop specialized skills in 49 categories that they can apply toward their future careers. Awards are available at the local, state and national levels and a description of each 2012 award category can be found on

The national winners and finalists for each of the award areas became eligible for national consideration after taking top honors in their home states. Each winner takes home a total of $1,000 for their efforts, and each finalist earned a $500 award thanks to sponsorship provided by a long list of corporate FFA supporters.


Minnesota also had several FFAers who achieved gold rank in the National FFA Agriscience Fair.

Jared Krieger and Fredrick Mansfield of the Kerkhoven Murdock Sunburg FFA earned gold for their environmental services/ natural resource systems, placing third in the division.

Riley Tostenson of Perham FFA earned gold for his food products and processing systems project. He placed seventh in his division.

Isaac Skalsky of Thief River Falls FFA also placed seventh and earned gold for his power, structural and technical systems division project.


Kelly Holt and Courtney Kohlman of Kerkhoven Murdock Sunburg FFA earned gold and placed ninth in their plant systems division.

Career development event winners

Minnesota FFAers also excelled in Career Development Events.

Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted had two teams place in the top ten and five individuals place in the top 10 in their CDE competitions.

Abbey Weninger of Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted FFA, placed fourth individually in agricultural communications.

The HLWW floriculture team took second place. Team members are Katie Hirsch, Kyla Mauk, Emily Mages and Ryan Gailey. Hirsch placed fifth individually and Gailey placed 10th.

The Nursery and Landscape CDE team took second place. Team members are Jackson Triplett, Russell Bayerl, Spenser Weber and Chris Marketon. Triplett placed seventh individually and Bayerl placed eighth.

Jackson FFA had two teams that placed in the top 10. The Meats Evaluation and Technology team finished sixth and the Environmental and Natural Resources team placed ninth.


Members of the meats team: Josh Christoffer, Matthew Schmit, Jordan Snyder and Ben Stubbe. Members of the environment team: Ethan Voss, Joey Boyer, Peter Nasby and Brady Bass. Boyer placed 10th individually.

The Mountain Lake agronomy team of Daniel Harder, Caleb Rempel, Hamlet Tanyavong and Eric Niss placed fourth.

The Holdingford agricultural technology and mechanical systems team also placed fourth. Team members are Eric Keppers, Nick Knettel, Jared Skroch and Steven Skroch. Steven Skroch placed fifth individually.

Morris' marketing plan team placed fourth. Team members: Laura Kuhn, Hailey Kotts and Brooke Wente.

The poultry team from Redwood Valley in Redwood Falls took fourth place. Team members are Rachel Schroeder, Heather Kipfer, Caleb Krause and Macius Schroeder. Rachel Schroeder placed ninth individually.

Windom's farm business management team placed fifth. Team members: Abby Resch, Molly Resch, Ryan Helmoski and Natalie Resch. Abby Resch placed fourth individually.

Caledonia placed sixth in dairy cattle evaluation and management. Team members are Eric Houdek, Andy Houdek, Carlie Krueger and Hannah Russert. Krueger was 10th high individual overall.

Frazee-Vergas took seventh place with its forestry team. Team members are Arthur Schilling, Melissa Schilling, Trevor Adams and Sarah Kiehl. Trevor Adams was high individual for the event.


Jade Kutzke of Atwater Cosmos Grove City placed seventh in Job Interview.

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