Texas entrepreneur named 2012 Star in Agribusiness by National FFA Organization

INDIANAPOLIS (September, 2012/National FFA Organization) - For the successes he’s achieved in building his core competencies as an agribusiness owner, Texas FFA member Austin Crissman has been named a 2012 Star in Agribusiness finalist, one of the highest honors given by the National FFA Organization. He will compete with three other finalists at the 85th National FFA Convention & Expo, Oct. 24 - 27, in Indianapolis.

Each year at the national convention and expo, 16 national finalists – four in each category – vie for the organization’s top awards: American Star Farmer, American Star in Agribusiness, American Star in Agricultural Placement and American Star in Agriscience. These awards honor students who have developed outstanding agricultural skills and competencies through their supervised agricultural experience; demonstrated outstanding management skills; earned the American FFA Degree – the organization’s highest level of accomplishment; and met other agricultural education, scholastic and leadership requirements. Each finalist will be interviewed by a panel of judges, who will ultimately name the top candidate in each area. The winner will be announced in an onstage ceremony and will receive a plaque and an award of $4,000. The runners-up will also receive a plaque and $2,000 each.

In 2003, Crissman’s family became exclusive distributors of a popular skin oil used in the livestock show business. Four years later, Crissman took over business operations regarding the distribution of Champion’s Choice. He used this experience to fulfill FFA obligations to complete a supervised agricultural experience. SAEs are required projects that FFA members conceptualize with the help of their teachers that involve them owning and operating an agricultural-based business, getting an agriculture-based job or internship or planning and conducting an agriculture-related scientific experiment.

Their learn-by-doing project gives FFA members invaluable experience as they progress through their educational careers.

“My goals were to better understand the business, overall marketing strategies and sales and to study geographical areas to determine where we needed to concentrate sales efforts,” he said.

By the end of his project, Crissman had Champion’s Choice advertisements running in national trade magazines. He accomplished the product being carried by a host of feed stores and show supply distributors and even Sullivan’s Show Supply in their catalog for nationwide distribution.

Crissman, a member of Bells High School's FFA chapter in Bells, Texas, led by chapter advisors Glen Blount and Morris Mortensen, is currently a freshman at Blinn College. He plans to transfer to Texas A&M University, pursue a degree in animal science and attend pharmacy school. He is the son of Kelly and Dianna Crissman.

The American FFA Degree recognition programs, such as the American Star Awards, are co-sponsored by Alltech Inc.; Case IH; Elanco; Farm Credit; Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont Business; and Syngenta as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.