Kansas FFA Association

Kansas Student Achieves Career Success

INDIANAPOLIS - Justin Ohlde has been involved with his family's dairy farm for as long as he can remember. "I have been milking cows since I was old enough to reach the cow in the parlor," said the 21-year-old Linn, Kan., native. Now those years of experience have the potential to earn him a prestigious award.

The National FFA Organization named Ohlde as a 2004 American Star Farmer finalist, one of the organization's highest honors. He will compete with three other finalists for the title during the 77th National FFA Convention, held Oct. 27-30, in Louisville, Ky.

During the convention, each finalist will participate in interviews by a panel of judges, who will ultimately name the top candidate in each area. The winner will be announced in an onstage convention ceremony and will receive a plaque and an award of $2,000. The runners-up also will receive plaques and $1,000 each.

Ohlde's Dairy is a 2,100-acre dairy farm that milks approximately 600 cows. They also grow and harvest crops and forages. When Ohlde decided to take a more active role on the farm, he knew that it was important for him to have a large knowledge base. He has learned how to administer shots to increase the herds' performance and keep veterinarian costs low. He also took a course in artificial insemination and can now breed and infuse his own cattle.

Soon after entering high school, Ohlde decided that while he enjoyed working on the family farm, he wanted to take a more active role in agriculture. He bought cattle of his own and rented 370 acres, which he farms on his own. Ohlde rents free stalls and purchases feed from the dairy. With the crops operation, he is responsible for all the labor, seed, fertilizer, rent and chemicals.

The son of Steven and Cynthia Ohlde, he is an undergraduate at Kansas State University, majoring in animal science and industry. He plans to receive a minor in agricultural economics and agronomy, so that he will be diversified in all aspects of operating the dairy. While at K-State, Ohlde has been involved with the Agronomy and Dairy Judging teams and has won several awards on the state and national level.

Ohlde’s supervised agricultural experience (SAE) program led him to apply and earn the American FFA Degree, in which a student must earn and invest $7,500 in a self-chosen career field or work more than 1,500 hours in job placement.

An SAE program is one of three components that make up the agricultural education program. By combining the SAE career entrepreneurship or job placement component with classroom instruction from agricultural education instructors and leadership development from the FFA, students like Ohlde are able to make a positive impact on their own and others’ lives. Ohlde’s FFA advisor is John Kern.

The American FFA Degree recognition program is co-sponsored by BASF; Case IH; Farm Credit System; and Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. Recognition for the Stars Over America Program is provided by individual contributors to the National FFA Foundation. "Stars Over America," a special audiovisual presentation featuring the finalists, is produced by Dupont and the USDA Farm Service Agency as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.

FFA is a national youth organization of 464,267 student members preparing for leadership and careers in science, business and technology of agriculture with 7,194 local chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. Visit www.ffa.org for more information.

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