Target Success, Take Action was the theme for this year’s 86th Wisconsin State FFA Convention, and take action they did! The convention hosted more than 3,600 FFA members and guests on June 15-18 at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison.

Organic Valley sponsored the second annual Organic Agriculture Proficiency Award. This year, I had the honor of presenting the award to Kimberly Zill from the Waupau FFA chapter. Kimberly and her parents are Organic Valley producers, and Kimberly is very hands-on with their dairy operation. She is responsible for haying, milking in the evenings and feeding calves. Kimberly also finds time to volunteer at the local animal shelter and is very active in her FFA chapter. She plans to attend Madison Area Technical College for veterinary technology in the fall of 2016.

Kimberly Zill

Kimberly Zill, Organic Dairy Proficiency Award Winner

Our second place Organic Agriculture Proficiency Award was presented to Jason Ross from the Juda FFA chapter. Jason has been working on a vegetable CSA farm near Brodhead, Wisconsin, for the past two years. He is responsible for the planting, maintenance, weeding and harvesting of 10 varieties of produce. Jason also helps sell the produce at a farmers market in Oak Park, Illinois, each week. Jason says that it’s a lot of hard work but rewarding to know he is growing healthy, organic vegetables and sharing the bounty with others. In Jason’s free time, he will serve as Section V State Vice President.

Congratulations to both Kimberly and Jason.

This year’s Creed Speaking Contest was won by Braden Kundert from the Badger FFA Chapter. I was fortunate to judge the contest along with Janet Schneider, this year’s Wisconsin FFA Alumni President, and Don Mier, a retired Agriculture Instructor from the Plymouth FFA chapter.

In other news, Organic Valley representatives were honored to accept the Two Star Mission Partner Award in recognition of the cooperative’s support of FFA; at the Organic Valley Career Show booth, students tried their hands at milking a (rubber) cow; and Melissa Weyland, Organic Valley’s farmer relations supervisor, presented Organic Farming in Wisconsin at one of the many convention workshops. The audience was engaging, eager and ready to learn more about organic agriculture!

As Organic Valley continues to “plant the seed,” we are seeing more and more FFA members and instructors, at both the state and national levels, exploring organic agriculture each year. Just as plants need a strong foundation in healthy soil, these young farmers also need a strong foundation, support, patience and guidance, and we at Organic Valley are proud to be part of that support. Organic Valley will continue its mission of supporting the next generation of organic farmers and provide these students with resources and opportunities to make solid, strong and healthy decisions in their farming futures.