INDIANAPOLIS (September, 2012/National FFA Organization) - It’s a fairly easy two-hour drive from Ames, Iowa, to Ionia, a small town of about 300 residents in northern Iowa. But the number of times that Andrew Edson has made the 120-mile journey from Iowa State University to the family farm is a prime example of the hard work required for a successful operation. Edson’s early farming success is just the beginning of what appears to be a long career in production agriculture.
The National FFA Organization has named the 22-year-old a 2012 American Star Farmer finalist, one of the organization’s highest honors. He will compete with three other finalists at the 85th National FFA Convention & Expo, Oct. 24 - 27, in Indianapolis.
Each year, 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 (SAE); 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 was interviewed by a panel of judges, which ultimately named the top candidate in each area. The winner was announced in an onstage convention ceremony and received a plaque and an award of $4,000. The runners-up also received plaques and $2,000 each.
Edson has worked on his family’s farm for as long as he’s been able. After years of helping his father, Andrew purchased his first livestock at the age of 14, with the goal of starting his own club calf operation. Since then, Edson’s herd has grown to 10 heifers, 13 cows and two bulls. In addition, at age 17, Edson began renting land from his father to grow corn and soybeans. Two years later, he began renting nearly 700 acres of farmland from a neighbor and plans to continue that arrangement in the future.
Edson is a junior at Iowa State University, where he is studying agricultural business. He hopes to return to his family’s farm upon graduation. He was a member of Nashua-Plainfield FFA in Nashua, Iowa. His advisor was Ronald Zelle. He is the son of David and Connie Edson.
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.