Going against the grain.

Ethanol is a clean burning fuel typically produced from corn. It is reported to have far less harmful hydrocarbon and benzene emissions than other fuels. In addition to corn, grains such as wheat or barley can be used to make ethanol, and all of these grains are abundantly available in the United States.

Hill City FFA members in Kansas wanted to educate consumers about the environmental and economical benefits of using ethanol by hosting an Ethanol Rally. Their goal was to convince at least 51 percent of the customers who stopped by their rally to purchase ethanol over gasoline.

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Milking by Design

The Agri-Entrepreneurship Awards honor FFA members who recognize market opportunities and develop solid business plans which capitalize on them. Awards are available at the chapter, state and national levels.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

All Agri-Entrepreneurship Award applicants will receive a rating of bronze, silver, gold, or national winner. Ten National Agri-Entrepreneurship Award winners are selected annually. Each winner receives a $1,000 award and is recognized onstage during the National FFA Convention. The winners’ projects are also featured in a booth at the National FFA Agricultural Career Show. The winners’ FFA chapters also receive a $500 grant to help them promote entrepreneurship in their agriculture programs.

The Agri-Entrepreneurship Program is sponsored by USDA Rural Development as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.

Here is a profile on one of this year’s 10 winners…

ST Farms Dairy 

Name: Chris Heiser
Age: 17
Chapter: Lamar FFA
Parents: Marie and Greg Heiser
Advisor: Larry Bacchus

When Chris Heiser of Lamar, Ark., received a youth loan from Farm Credit Services of Western Arkansas, he knew what he wanted to do. He always dreamed of owning cattle so he bought Dexter cattle and embarked on a milk production business.

He started milking by hand and then began producing butter by utilizing a homemade device that would churn the butter. The device, which utilizes a mixer and a jar, was designed and constructed by Heiser.

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FFA members raise turkeys pardoned by President Obama

FFA members with Liberty at the W hotel (credit: Obama Foodorama blog)

A night in a posh Washington D.C. hotel, two major media appearances and then a meeting with the sitting president of the United States in the North Portico of the White House? Certainly, that’s a gathering of events that would make a pretty outstanding experience for many.

This week, per tradition, two Minnesota-raised turkeys received that presidential treatment — along with the four Minnesota FFA members who helped raise them.

As part of the 2011 Presidential Turkey Pardon, “Liberty” and his alternate feathered friend “Peace” were saved from the fate that many of their turkey brethen face during the holiday season when President Barack Obama officially pardoned them during a Wednesday morning event.

It was the 64th time an event commorating turkeys had been held at the White House, and 24 turkeys have now been given a presidential pardon.

“(Thanksgiving) is one of the best days of the year to be an American,” Obama said. “It is a day to count are blessings, spend time with the ones we love, and enjoy some good food in great company. But it’s also one of the worst days to be a turkey. They don’t have it so good.”

Liberty and Peace were selected as the best-behaved from a flock turkeys from Willmar, Minn., and were raised by FFA members Brianna Hoover, Brenna Ahlquist, Val Brown and Preston Asche from Willmar High School.

National Turkey Federation Chairman Richard Huisinga, an executive with the local Willmar Poultry Company, assisted the effort and presented Liberty to President Obama. Meanwhile, Peace stood off to the side as the alternate in case Liberty couldn’t handle the fanfare.

“Liberty was chosen from a flock of about 30 other contestants for the honor of being here today,” Obama said. “And for the first time in history, these two turkeys were raised by four students from nearby Willmar High School.”

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Elevating the elderly

Columbus, Texas, is a small town with several assisted-living facilities. Many Columbus FFA members know someone who is living in such a home – so they reached out to one of these facilities to promote interaction between FFA members and residents, hoping to remind the residents that they are still a valuable part of the community.

Each month, Columbus FFA members spent time with elderly residents living at the Oaks Assisted Living Residence. They planned events with the help of the Oaks activity director and chose entertainment in which the residents had expressed an interest. Some of the activities they organized were a pizza party, a Coke float party, a pajama party and spring table decorations.

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Agri-energy, the new era of agriculture

The Agri-Entrepreneurship Awards honor FFA members who recognize market opportunities and develop solid business plans which capitalize on them. Awards are available at the chapter, state and national levels.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

All Agri-Entrepreneurship Award applicants will receive a rating of bronze, silver, gold, or national winner. Ten National Agri-Entrepreneurship Award winners are selected annually. Each winner receives a $1,000 award and is recognized onstage during the National FFA Convention. The winners’ projects are also featured in a booth at the National FFA Agricultural Career Show. The winners’ FFA chapters also receive a $500 grant to help them promote entrepreneurship in their agriculture programs.

The Agri-Entrepreneurship Program is sponsored by USDA Rural Development as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.

Here is a profile on one of this year’s 10 winners…

Brannon Agri-Energy
Name: Caleb Jay Brannon
Age: 15
Chapter: Calloway County FFA
Parents: Dr. Tony L. Brannon and Ms. Lisa Brannon
Advisor: Jacob Falwell and Bill Sampson

Caleb Jay Brannon of Puryear, Tenn., has a family history steeped in farming and the entrepreneurial spirit. So it’s no surprise that the Calloway County FFA freshman created a business that is on the cutting-edge of technology utilizing agriculture.

With gas and electricity prices continuing to rise and society continually talking about green initiatives, Brannon thought it was an ideal time for him to export agricultural-related energy enterprises. He formed Brannon Agri-Energy, an emerging technology, farm-related business that grows and markets switchgrass for bio mass and future cellulosic ethanol production.

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