Eight winners of the 2023 National FFA Agricultural Proficiency Awards were named during the fourth session of the 96th National FFA Convention & Expo on Friday, Nov. 3, which is being held in Indianapolis.
Agricultural proficiency awards honor FFA members who, through supervised agricultural experiences (SAEs), have developed specialized skills that they can apply toward their future careers. Students compete in areas ranging from agricultural communications to wildlife management. Proficiency awards are also recognized at local and state levels and provide recognition to members exploring and becoming established in agricultural career pathways.
Today, awards were announced for eight of the 45 categories during the fourth general convention session.
The recipients are:
Goat Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Chase Hummel of the Tri-Point FFA Chapter in Illinois works with his family’s livestock show goat breeding division, raising approximately 500 head of meat goats annually to be sold as 4-H and FFA projects across the country. He became responsible for monitoring the body condition and general health status of the 350 does, implementing parasite management practices and an embryo transfer program. Hummel is supported by his parents, Holly and Dale, and his FFA advisors Diana Loschen, Jenna Baker and Kaylee Shouse.
Poultry Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Sam Bolen of the South Central FFA Chapter in Ohio works for Double A Eggs Farms, a free-range and organic layer operation with two barns that each house approximately 30,000 birds. His duties were initially very simple, but today he is charged with adjusting belts, welding rods on the rock conveyor, advanced troubleshooting, supervising other farmhands, and more. Bolen is supported by his parents, Lorraine and George, and his FFA advisor, Sarah Lucha.
Sheep Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Bailee Amstutz of the North Union FFA Chapter in Ohio sold her first lamb on the sale block when she was 2 years old. At the age of 6, her grandmother gave her her first show lamb. Today, she has 78 ewes and three rams. Amstutz raised the Reserve Champion Commercial Ewe at the North American International Livestock Exposition (NAILE) in 2021, and a stud buck named Deuces Wild that produces semen and offspring that are sold across the country. She is supported by her parents, Leah and Brock, and her FFA advisors Breck Mooneyham and Thomas Jolliff.
Small Animal Production and Care – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Payton Irick of the Seminole FFA Chapter in Oklahoma raises Yorkshire terriers and Yorkie-poodle mixed designer dogs that are non-shedding and hypoallergenic. She began with one female and used a corner of her parents’ office to raise the first litter of puppies. She’s invested in more females and ensures stellar health, cleanliness and socialization of all puppies. Irick is supported by her parents, Heather and Shawn, and her FFA advisor, Amber Day.
Specialty Animal Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement
William Paxton of the Stuart FFA Chapter in Nebraska established his own beekeeping business after shadowing a professional. Keeping them on his uncle’s ranch, he started with two hives. His primary responsibility as a beekeeper, he said, was to keep honeybees healthy enough to survive and produce a substantial amount of honey each year. Paxton is supported by his parents, Sara and Darby, and his FFA advisors Katie Nolles and Patty Hanzlik.
Swine Production – Entrepreneurship
Davis Howell of the Clinton FFA Chapter in Illinois has a supervised agricultural experience (SAE) consisting of two projects: breeding swine and show swine. For his breeding operation, he has between 12 and 15 sows and gilts along with a check boar. He breeds twice a year with the goal that offspring will be transferred to his show swine project. Howell is supported by his parents, Rebecca and Zachary, and his FFA advisors Hannah Riedle, Kayla Riedle and Savannah Riegler.
Swine Production – Placement
John Buryl Neely
John Buryl Neely of the Woodbury FFA Chapter in Tennessee works with his family’s swine production. The project has allowed him to learn about all aspects of the process, including growing and finishing of all ages and weights of pigs. He has learned to apply the best swine management practices while monitoring their health, and cleaning and sanitizing facilities and trailers. Neely is supported by his parents, Alanna and Johnny, and his FFA advisors Wesley Foster and Emily Kopko.
Veterinary Science – Entrepreneurship/Placement
Brooke Nicole Casey
Brooke Nicole Casey of the New London FFA Chapter in Wisconsin works as a veterinary assistant at her local clinic and has also shadowed a large animal veterinarian at another operation. As an assistant, she works with vets to do checkups on healthy animals and exams on sick pets. She also works with the surgery and dental patients. She draws blood, gives vaccines, takes radiographs, assists with ultrasounds and more. Casey is supported by her parents, Bette and Glenn, and her FFA advisor, Crystal Retzlaff.
The National FFA Organization is a school-based national youth leadership development organization of more than 945,000 student members as part of 9,163 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.