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Missouri makes its mark at National FFA Convention

Austin Stanton of the Centralia FFA Chapter in Centralia, Mo., was honored Oct. 25 with FFA’s prestigious “American Star Farmer” award at the 91st National FFA Convention & Expo in Indianapolis. He was among 16 American Star Award finalists from throughout the U.S. who were nominated and interviewed by a panel of judges. Four were named winners and received cash awards totaling $4,000.

According to FFA, American Star Awards are presented to members who demonstrate outstanding skills and competencies through the completion of a supervised agricultural experience.

Austin operates a multifaceted agricultural enterprise with his brother, Dustin. With more than 15,000 hens, Stanton Brothers sells eggs to neighbors, restaurants, local grocery chains and University of Missouri dining halls. The brothers also raise swine and grow potatoes and radishes to diversify their operation.

The son of Judy and Andrew Stanton, Austin also works on his family’s row-crop and beef farm. The MU student said he wants to continue farming after completing his education and sell his products coast to coast.

“I do want to come back to the farm, and I want to raise a family on the farm,” Austin said. “That’s the reason that my brother and I went into the eggs adventure. If you have all your eggs in one basket, you’re bound to trip and fall one time. Diversification is the way to be sustainable.”

During the national convention, Missouri had 518 recipients earn American FFA degrees, the highest degree bestowed on an FFA member. Less than one-half of one percent of all FFA members earn the organization’s top individual honor.

Two Missouri chapters picked up distinguished chapter awards. The Marshall FFA chapter was named the 2018 National FFA Model of Excellence winner for the third time in four years. The Paris R-II FFA chapter was also selected as a top 10 Model of Excellence program, with a total of 31 Missouri chapters receiving the highest available chapter rating.

Four youth captured national championships in Agricultural Proficiency: Jacob Blank (Richland R-IV, equine science placement); Grace Box (Neosho, specialty crop production); Brenden Kleiboeker (Pierce City R-VI, swine production placement); and Hannah Strain (Rolla 31, forage production). Two additional programs, Columbia 93 School District (horse evaluation) and Gasconade County R-II (floriculture), received first-place finishes in the Career and Leadership Development Events category.

Nine participants earned an honorary American FFA degree, which is made available to people who have provided exceptional service on a national level to agriculture, agricultural education or FFA. Additionally, teachers who have created high-quality agricultural education programs that inspire or motivate students to strive for success are eligible. A full list of this year’s recipients and a compilation of event results are available at www.ffa.org/event-results.

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