Joseph Arnold is the 2017 American Star Farmer

INDIANAPOLIS – Growing up on the family farm, Joseph Arnold of Holloway, Minn., knew early on that he wanted to pursue a career in agriculture.

When Arnold joined FFA and began learning even more about the industry through classes, he realized working on the farm would be perfect for his supervised agricultural experience (SAE). In the process, Arnold discovered he needed to diversify his crops to sustain his operation.

As part of his process, he invested in shares of stock in the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative. He then researched the possibility of growing additional varieties of beans and other produce. As a result, today his operation yields corn, soybeans, navy beans, kidney beans and sugar beets.

For the past four years, Arnold has farmed and controlled every aspect of the production and marketing of his crops. He also strives to learn new ways to improve his operation. This persistence and drive have earned him the honor of being named a 2017 finalist for American Star Farmer.

“In high school I learned a bit about the business side as well as the mechanical side,” Arnold says. “I then strengthened that knowledge with my college education. It helped me be valuable to our farm operation, knowing these skills prior and having the work ethic to learn everything.”

Arnold takes pride in the operation and works to ensure it is the best it can be. He also realizes that his efforts help feed the world.

“If people didn’t need food, we wouldn’t have a job,” Arnold says. “I try to make the best products we can on the least amount of ground, on the least amount of input to try to be more sustainable and keep up with the growing demand for food.”

He also enjoys seeing his work’s connection to the broader agricultural picture. “It’s kind of neat to open up a can of Busch beans and know that this could have come from my farm.”

Arnold appreciates the experiences and knowledge he has gained through FFA. “It really put me a step ahead of those who didn’t have those opportunities.”

Each year at the National FFA Convention & Expo, four FFA members are honored with American Star Awards for outstanding accomplishments in FFA and agricultural education.

The American Star Awards, including American Star Farmer, American Star in Agribusiness, American Star in Agricultural Placement and American Star in Agriscience, are presented to FFA members who demonstrate outstanding agricultural skills and competencies through completion of an SAE. A required activity in FFA, an SAE allows students to learn by doing, by either owning or operating an agricultural business, working or serving an internship at an agriculture-based business or conducting an agriculture-based scientific experiment and reporting results.

Sixteen American Star Award finalists from throughout the U.S. are nominated by a panel of judges who then interview the finalists during the national convention and expo. Four are named winners and receive cash awards totaling $4,000. All American Star finalists receive a $2,000 cash award. Case IH, Elanco Animal Health and Syngenta sponsor the awards.