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
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.
“Through my animal science classes, I learned a lot about how to work with and manage cattle,” he said. “This really got me interested because I enjoyed learning and being around them.”
Soon, members of his community began to ask when he was going to start the dairy because they wanted to buy fresh dairy products. With his parents owning a restaurant, he also knew that he’d be able to market his products through that avenue.
In the next two years, Heiser plans to expand his Dexter herd from two cows to a minimum of 10. He also wants to further develop his flavored butter line. Heiser currently is making cinnamon butter but would like to offer a minimum of five flavors. He would also like to develop a line of cheese products and offer at least two cheese products to his customers.
The high school senior plans to major in agricultural business and hopes to either manage a ranch or large farming operation after college.