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…
Bass 4-U Fish Farm
Name: Dillon Ochsner
Chapter: Sutton FFA
Parents: Jeff and Sheila Ochsner
Advisor: Kurt Heideman
When Dillon Ochsner of Sutton, Neb., worked at a local fish hatchery and his brother’s trout farm, he developed a love for aquaculture. Deciding to venture into aquaculture, he started raising freshwater shrimp. Due to the short growing season in Nebraska and some additional issues with the shrimp, this venture was unsuccessful but it led Ochsner to do some additional research on aquaculture.
After touring fish hatcheries and attending an aquaculture workshop, he decided to try another project and began to raise largemouth bass. When he learned that there is a good demand for pond stocking, he soon created Bass 4-U Fish Farm.
“My love for animals and strong FFA examples of entrepreneurial success led me to recognize the opportunity to begin my business,” Ochsner said.
The fish farm is located on his grandfather’s farm only four miles from his home. Raising bass requires careful pond management and daily feeding. Ochsner raises the bass throughout the summer, and in the fall bass are then ready for their new homes. They are put in buckets of water and hauled into an indoor holding pit where they wait to be sold for pond stocking. Once sold, the bass are released by Ochsner’s clients into their ponds.
Currently a junior at Sutton High School, Ochsner plans to attend college and obtain a degree in the field of agriculture and hopes to be either self-employed or take a job in agriculture to work with livestock.