I believe family farming is alive, well and roaring in Wisconsin and throughout the United States. I attended the 85th Wisconsin FFA Convention June 9-12. The convention was held at the Alliant Center in Madison, WI. There were 223 chapters present, 289 advisors, 1,698 FFA members and 1,336 guests attending the four day celebration. This brings Wisconsin FFA membership to a 30 year high!
Organic Valley sponsored the first-ever Wisconsin FFA Organic Proficiency Award! The Agricultural Proficiency Awards honors FFA members who, through their SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience) have developed specialized skills that they can apply toward their future careers. Students can compete for awards in 49 areas covering everything from Agricultural Communications to Wildlife Management.
This year’s Organic Proficiency Award winner is Ethan Riley from the Waupaca FFA Chapter. Ethan’s SAE was Dairy Management. He owns 15 Register and Grade Holsteins and is a sophomore in High School!
Ethan is responsible for milking the 40 cow herd, cares for the calves and young stock on the farm and helps with the field work. When he is not choring, he is working with his fair animals, showing them at the District Holstein Show and the County and State Fairs. Congratulations to Ethan!
During the convention, Organic Valley provided the FFA members with a workshop titled Organic Agriculture-Our Farmers, Our Food and Our Future. The room was filled with engaged and energetic young people. We also hosted a booth at the Career Show, where FFA members could milk a cow and sport a hot new pair of sun glasses.
I had the great opportunity to see a YouTube video during the convention of the Peterson brothers. In case you have not seen some of their farming videos, check this out!
These three brothers are farming with their family in Kansas on a conventional farm, raising beef, corn and wheat. They all plan to return to their family farm after college. In the meantime, they still find time to work many long, hard hours on the farm with their parents and other family members. They have so much pride in their family farm and it shows through the video. They want to tell the world that “Now, they are farmers too and we all want to see them chore”! This video has over a million hits worldwide. What a great way to show the world about family farming.
Like the Peterson Brothers, Ethan is a proud farmer too and an organic farmer! He understands what it takes to wake up early in the morning, head to the barn and milk the cows. He knows he is responsible for the success of his family farm.
No matter if you farm conventional or organic, all farmers feel the same joys and sorrows, highs and lows of farming. Like the twin calves that you lost this spring or getting first crop hay up without any rain. If we can bring our children back to the farm and continue the proud heritage of family farming, we too will be able to hear the next generation of organic farmers roaring while they chore.