Ross Crabill’s next-door neighbors were farmers.
As a boy, he’d slip over and watch Larry Day and son Justin work on equipment and take care of their cattle herd. When he was old enough, he started working for them.
“It was the only job I could get because I couldn’t drive,” he said.
When Day suffered a heart attack, he backed away from the day-to-day operations of the farm and turned things over to his son, an accomplished FFA member who had won two national proficiency awards, the Indiana FFA state Star Farmer award and was named an American Star Farmer finalist. Day knew his son would need help running his farm.
“He knew how well FFA had developed his son so in eighth grade, Larry spelled it out to me that if I wanted to work for them, then he’d like me to join FFA.”
Crabill joined and immediately began plotting out his supervised agricultural experience.
He has worked as an hourly laborer since, helping run a 3,500-acre grain operation and 1,500-head cattle operation. Crabill has worked on the Day farm as a mechanic and a welder, skills he developed by enrolling in diesel technology and machining at an area career center. He obtained a commercial driver’s license and transported grain to storage during harvest season with semi tractor-trailers. Crabill has been involved in all aspects of planting and harvesting corn, soybeans, wheat, silage corn and hay, including heavy machinery operation, and livestock management, including feeding operations and vaccinations.
“I went from neighbor kid to part-time employee to full-time employee to farm manager over a 10-year period,” Crabill said. “As the farm continues to grow and expand, Justin takes care of marketing, networking and working with our partners while I take care of the day-to-day operations. I spend anywhere from 40 to 80 hours on the farm and am also a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician.”
Crabill is a 2013 finalist for an American Star in Agricultural Placement award from the National FFA Organization.
Each year at the National FFA Convention & Expo, four FFA members are honored with an American Star award for outstanding accomplishments in FFA and agricultural education. The award is the most prestigious honor awarded to a student by the National FFA Organization.
The American Star awards – including the American Star Farmer, American Star in Agribusiness, American Star in Agricultural Placement and American Star in Agriscience – are awarded to FFA members who demonstrate outstanding agricultural skills and competencies through completion of a supervised agricultural experience. A required activity in FFA, a supervised agriculture experience allows students to learn by doing by either owning and operating an agricultural business, working or serving an internship at an agriculture-based business or conducting an agriculture-based scientific experiment and reporting results.
Other requirements to achieve the award include demonstrating top management skills; completing key agricultural education, scholastic and leadership requirements; and earning an American FFA Degree, the organization’s highest level of student accomplishment.
Sixteen American Star award finalists from throughout the U.S. are nominated for a panel of judges to interview during convention. Four are named winners and receive cash awards totaling $4,000. All American Star finalists receive a $2,000 cash award. The Stars Over America are sponsored by ADM Crop Risk Services; CASE IH; DuPont Pioneer; Elanco; Farm Credit; and Syngenta as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.
Crabill, 22, is a member of the Shenandoah High School FFA chapter in Middletown, Ind., led by advisors Melissa Lovett, Jessica Giesler and Trent Fredenburg.
He is the son of Pamela and Kevin Crabill.
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About National FFA Organization
The National FFA Organization is a national youth organization of 557,318 student members as part of 7,498 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. The National FFA Organization operates under a federal charter granted by the 81st United States Congress and it is an integral part of public instruction in agriculture. The U.S. Department of Education provides leadership and helps set direction for FFA as a service to state and local agricultural education programs. For more, visit the National FFA Organization online at www.FFA.org, on Facebook, Twitter and the official National FFA Organization blog.