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…
Name: Jason Mendes
Chapter: Modesto FFA
Parents: John and Heidi Mendes
Advisor: Scott Layne
When Jason Mendes watched Food Inc. in his history class during his sophomore year, it made him stop and think. Seeing the need for more organically produced agriculture products, he asked his advisor what it would take to launch a free-range poultry project. After spending much time researching regulations and meeting with the Modesto Junior College poultry instructor, Mendes realized it would be possible and very popular, as many people were interested in all-natural, free-range birds.
Finding a new passion, he began his new career in earnest. He worked with the local feed and supply store to get the feeders, waters, bedding and feed. He then worked with his father on building an adequate pen and house that fit his standards. With everything in place, he bought his first batch of chicks.
“I knew I had a path to pursue and something I enjoyed doing with a passion that drove me to reach nothing less than success,” Mendes said.
Mendes raises his birds on his parents’ property. The birds are raised without any antibiotics and fed a ration that contains no unnatural additives.
Along with raising poultry, Mendes takes a key interest in marketing. He has targeted those who have an interest in buying local produces and works diligently in marketing his product in such a way that the public understands the advantages of his product. He is currently working on creating a label that can be put on his poultry.
Currently a senior at Modesto High School, Mendes plans to attend Modesto Junior College and major in agriculture business. He plans to continue his business and expand.