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: Raymond James
Chapter: Walton FFA
Parents: Mark James and Tina Miner-James
Advisor: Tina Miner-James and Penney Tweedie
Raymond James of Afton, N.Y., has always been active in the local 4-H program. But over the past few years, he noticed that it was difficult to find quality market hogs for show and sale. As the years progressed, he saw the cost for piglets continue to increase, making it difficult to afford. To help alleviate the issue of finding a quality piglet in February, he decided to farrow piglets on his family farm and Minerdale Farm Farrow to Finish was created.
“The farrow-to-finish operation is a learning experience for us all,” James said. “We continually assess our situation and look to bettering the operation.”
James has continued to educate himself on the process of the business, attending discussions on housing, health, nutrition and reproduction of swine. Since the enterprise began two years ago, they have sold more than 30 pigs, which include piglets and market hogs.
“I am not only selling to the community, I’m providing educational opportunities for those wanting more information on the swine industry,” he said. James has taken piglets to schools and facilities discussions with students interested in becoming farmers.
Currently a junior at Walton Central School, James plans to have a career in the field of wildlife biology.