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 a supervised agricultural experience (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.
Congratulations to the 2020 American Star in Agribusiness winner:
Blake Kirchhoff, Nebraska
Hay bales are a common sight across the Great Plains, but if you see some near the Kansas-Nebraska border, there’s a chance Blake Kirchhoff might have baled them.
“I basically do ‘start to finish’ haying operations,” Kirchhoff said. “Swathing, raking and then round baling or square baling, depending on what the customer wants.”
Kirchhoff owns and operates a haying business called Blake Kirchhoff Custom Baling for his supervised agricultural experience (SAE) with Superior FFA in Nebraska. Blake’s business does more than spinning hay into bales, though — he helps local farmers get in contact with buyers for their hay bales too.
“I also do some contracted hay sales, like a broker [or] a middleman,” Kirchhoff said. “Helping buyers and sellers find each other and negotiate prices.”
Kirchhoff’s business has seen strong growth since he started many years ago on his family farm. However, he didn’t initially plan on haying for his SAE.