FFA (Future Farmers of America) is an organization that helps members develop their talent and potential through hands-on experiences, giving them tools to achieve real world success. With over 850k members, this club is about more than just farming. Their motto is “Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live and Living to Serve.” The American FFA Degree is the highest achievement a member can earn. It’s a degree that only 1% of members achieve. The FFA describes it as “the gold standard.” Their website says, “It demonstrates the effort FFA members apply toward their supervised agricultural experience [SAE] and the outstanding leadership abilities and community involvement they exhibited through their FFA career.” Makayla Breth, Associate Crop Advisor at Centra Sota, and Rena Johnson, one of our 2022 summer interns, are both recipients.
Makayla Breth worked on her family’s dairy farm just north of St. Anthony, Minn. feeding cows, calves, and heifers, repairing equipment, stalk chopping, and taking on the general day-to-day responsibilities that occur on a typical Midwest dairy farm. These duties all contributed to her successful project.
Throughout her proficiency the people that supported her the most were her parents and her FFA advisor Duane Lichy. Lichy told Breth about the opportunities FFA could offer her on her farm, sparking her interest in pursuing an American Degree. Her mother, Tammy Breth, has been her biggest fan. Tammy encourages Makayla when things get tough, cheers her on through struggles, and listens to every story she has. Breth also points towards the dedication of the community members, business supporters, and students to connect the next generation to agriculture.
Breth ties her American Degree and her role as a crop advisor at Centra Sota together through the hard work, diligence, and dedication that they both require.
“As an FFA member, [I] take pride in what [I] do; the same as farmers,” Breth said.
Each student must have an SAE project. Through SAE’s, FFA wants students to get involved in something they are passionate about, making money, or investing time. The hope is that through SAE’s the members can incorporate the community, agriculture, and prepare the members for future jobs after their time in FFA.
For her SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience) Rena sold homemade jam to the local community around Buffalo. As her project grew, she continued to sell jam through her time in high school. Another element of her SAE project was working at the Fleet Farm Garden Center, furthering her knowledge of plants and helping customers. Johnson shares, “That led me to want to keep furthering my knowledge with plants and I still make jam occasionally for those customers who still ask for it!”
Another third piece of her SAE was working in the Buffalo High School Garden, where produce is grown and sold to the school district to incorporate vegetables in school lunches throughout the summer and fall.
When asked about her experiences in FFA Johnson says, “Throughout FFA I attended camps and conferences across the state, including Washington DC and Indiana. I served as a chapter and region officer. As Buffalo FFA, we always have a corn drive each year which is one of my top highlights seeing how supportive our community in Buffalo is from the businesses and the farmers who we have been able to build relationships with!”
She also competed in CDE’s and LDE’s (career / leadership development events) on the Buffalo FFA soils team, Agricultural issues forum, and food science.
“And I couldn’t do it all without the Buffalo FFA advisor Mr. Gary Wirkus (he's the best) and the very supportive Buffalo FFA alumni group that we have!!”