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Spotlight on Youth - July 31, 2019

Five FFAers named to 55th class of U.S. Presidential Scholars

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Five FFA members were recently named U.S. Presidential Scholars – one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students – for their accomplishments in academics, the arts, and career and technical education. Each year, up to 161 students receive this honor.

The FFA members named as scholars are: Justin Chan, Middletown FFA, Delaware; Jaxon Mullinnix, Lone Tree FFA, Iowa; Megan Niewoehner, Sumner-Fredericksburg FFA, Iowa; Katrina Eileen Pokorny, Waupun FFA, Wisconsin; and Matthew E. Ryherd, Reedsburg FFA, Wisconsin.

Established in 1964 by executive order of President Lyndon B. Johnson, the U.S. Presidential Scholars program was created with the intent to recognize the nation's most distinguished high school graduating seniors. In 2015, the program was expanded to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical education.

The 2019 U.S. Presidential Scholars are comprised of two students from each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and from U.S. families living abroad, as well as 15 chosen at-large. There are also 20 scholars in the arts and 20 in career and technical education.

Students receive honors at National History Day Contest

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Indiana Historical Society (IHS) announced several Indiana students placed in the top 10 in their respective categories and/or received special awards at the National Contest for the National History Day program in Washington, D.C., June 9-13.

Category awards for Indiana students included:

•Fourth Place, Senior Group Exhibit – Morgan Ye and Nanditha Kolur of Carmel High School, “Playing God with People’s Lives: Leilani Muir”

•Fifth Place, Senior Individual Website – Janini Eswaran, Carmel High School, “The Creole Slave Revolt of 1841”

•Sixth Place, Junior Individual Documentary – Sophia Winters, Zionsville Middle School, “The Perfect Horse”

•Seventh Place, Senior Group Website – Grace Hong and Jessica Zhang, Carmel High School, “Frances Hamerstrom: Saving the Prairie Chickens”

•Eighth Place, Senior Individual Documentary – Laura Jannetta, North Central High School, “Lewis Hine: How One Man Used Photography to Combat Child Labor in America”

•10th Place, Junior Individual Website – Emmett Tuason, Eastwood Middle School, “Crispus Attucks: A School that Unified a City”

Each year at the National Contest, officials also choose one junior and one senior project as Indiana's outstanding state entries. This year, the Outstanding State Entry for the Junior Division went to "The Perfect Horse." The entry for the Senior Division went to Faith Austin of Carmel High School for her senior individual documentary, "Ernest Shackleton: Overcoming Adversity Through Great Leadership."

The 2019 National Contest hosted 3,000 students, and more than half a million students globally took part in the 2019 National History Day program. Less than 1 percent of projects advanced to the National Contest.

Bellmont FFA picks officers, hands out annual awards

DECATUR, Ind. — The Bellmont FFA chapter recently held its 25th annual Awards Banquet at Bellmont High School. Attending were nearly 100 alumni, family, and supporters, as well as FFA members.

The gathering included a delicious dinner, silent auction, the announcement of honorary members, and the exciting introduction of the new officer team. The silent auction is always greatly appreciated, as its donations are used to raise money for the alumni to be given back to the Bellmont FFA chapter. The banquet also recognizes honorary members for the chapter – this year’s were Howie Girod and Todd and Tina Hoffman.

There were four FFAers presented well-earned awards. The Star Greenhand award was presented to Claire Fuelling, a first-year member actively involved in FFA and the classroom, expressing leadership qualities beneficial to the chapter.

The Star Chapter Farmer Award goes to a second-year member who excels in all areas of the Agricultural Education Program – Classroom, FFA, and Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE). This year’s Star Chapter Farmer was Andrew Fuelling.

The 110 Percent award goes to a third-year member who excels in the Classroom, SAE, and FFA, and positively influences others to be successful in all that they do. This year’s went to Ethan Short.

The Dekalb Top Senior award is presented to the top senior of the chapter who is skilled in many areas, including scholarship, leadership, and SAE. A big congratulations to Katie Melcher for being this year’s Top Senior.

At the end of the ceremony members serving on the 2019-20 officer team were announced. Officers include Andrew Fuelling as president, Olivia Conrad as vice president, Victoria Fleming as secretary, Claire Fuelling as treasurer, Mia Singleton as reporter, and Ethan Short as sentinel.

Three FFA chapters finalists in Pioneer Big A Challenge

JOHNSTON, Iowa — Pioneer announced three Iowa FFA chapters have been chosen as finalists in the Pioneer brand A-Series Soybeans Big A Challenge. Each winning chapter will receive a cash prize and will have their decorated statues prominently displayed at the 2019 Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Ill.

Judges selected the Mount Ayr FFA, North Tama FFA (of Traer), and Wayne FFA (Corydon) chapters as the top three finalists from 15 participating FFA chapters in Iowa and Illinois. The Big A Challenge teamed Pioneer and FFA to focus on the next generation of soybean varieties and the next generation of farmers.

The winners, to be announced on August 28 at the show, will receive $2,500 for first place, $1,500 for second, and $1,000 for third. FFA chapters showed their creative talent by decorating a 7-foot-tall Big A statue highlighting A-Series soybeans’ game-changing performance while celebrating their communities.

Pioneer also would like to congratulate the other 12 chapters participating in the Big A Challenge: Atlantic FFA of Iowa; Clay City FFA of Illinois; East Marshall FFA of LeGrand, Iowa; Farmington FFA of Illinois; Maroa Forsyth FFA of Maroa, Ill.; Massac County FFA of Metropolis, Ill.; MMCRU FFA of Marcus, Iowa; Mulberry Grove FFA of Illinois; Newell-Fonda FFA of Newell, Iowa; Sibley-Ocheyedan FFA of Sibley, Iowa; Stewardson-Strasburg FFA of Strasburg, Ill.; and Wilton FFA of Iowa.

The 15 Big A statues will be displayed at the Farm Progress Show and all 15 FFA chapters are eligible to win the People’s Choice Award. The public will vote online for their favorite Big A statue from August 26-30; for a sneak peek at the statues, look for #FFAseries on Facebook and Twitter.

DNR announces Conservation Teen Advisory Council members

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced that 31 students representing 20 counties were selected to serve as founding members of the Conservation Teen Advisory Council (ConTAC) for the upcoming school year.

ConTAC will serve as the voice of Ohio’s youth to DNR and help expand the reach, impact, and quality of the agency’s youth initiatives. Members will spend approximately 10 hours per quarter developing and implementing youth-focused strategies, resources, campaigns, and events, advising DNR on issues important to teens, and working to empower others to enact conservation-focused initiatives in their communities.

Students will have the opportunity to gain a comprehensive understanding of DNR through hands-on activities and discussions with professionals from the agency’s divisions. High school students interested in natural resource conservation, outdoor recreation, wildlife, and making a positive impact are eligible to serve. Members serve one-year terms and may serve for a maximum of two terms.

A list of the 2019-20 Conservation Teen Advisory Council members and additional information about ConTAC can be found at

National FFA Organization names New Century Farmers

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — This summer, 36 FFA members were selected to participate in the 2019 New Century Farmer conference in Indianapolis. This exclusive, highly competitive program develops young men and women committed to pursuing a career in production agriculture.

Participants took part in an intensive seminar July 7-12 and heard from industry experts during a series of workshops and sessions. New Century Farmers learn ways to overcome common challenges faced by farmers and how they can grow personally and professionally.

The program is designed to provide participants with valuable skills and knowledge applicable to their farm/ranch operations. In addition, participants build a network of colleagues to access throughout their careers.

The 2019 New Century Farmers from this region included, from Kentucky, Jacob Mattingly and John Wood; from Ohio, Robert Christman, Carley Coppler, Lauren Grover, and Tanner Matthews; and from Tennessee, KayLee Robinson.

John Deere announces new Registered Apprenticeship Program

MOLINE, Ill. — John Deere has received approval from the U.S. Department of Labor for its new Registered Apprenticeship Program and is making it available to its Agriculture & Turf and Construction & Forestry dealers.

The program will help address a widespread shortage of service technicians, especially in rural areas across the country, by providing dealers with a formalized, on-the-job and technical training plan to help them develop more highly skilled employees.

Through participation, dealers formally commit to developing additional talent in an earn-while-you-learn program. A participating apprentice benefits from structured, on-the-job training in partnership with an experienced mentor. As training progresses, apprentices are rewarded for new skills acquired.

Dealers can collaborate with any number of local organizations as part of the Registered Apprenticeship Program. These include, but are not limited to, the John Deere TECH Program, K-12 schools, community colleges, labor organizations, economic development groups, foundations, and workforce development boards.

In addition, dealers can select other occupations for the apprentice program, including sales professionals, parts professionals, accountants, or many other occupations, and develop appropriate work processes for those jobs.

For more information about the John Deere Registered Apprenticeship Program, visit your local dealer.