Nebraska farmer named 2012 Star in Agricultural Placement finalist by National FFA Organization

INDIANAPOLIS (September, 2012/National FFA Organization) - Like many Midwestern farm kids, Matthew Marcellus grew up inspired by his father, a second-generation farmer.

“When I was little, I would go out and check fields with him,” said the 21-year-old from Atkinson, Neb. “I always thought going out and walking the fields was interesting, and I always wanted to know how to grow the crops and operate the machinery.”

Once Marcellus was old enough, he began to keep track of his hours and get paid for working on his family’s Marcellus Farms. Now his years of hard work and dedication could win him top honors.

The National FFA Organization has named Marcellus a 2012 American Star in Agricultural Placement 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 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.

Marcellus has always enjoyed being challenged, which has helped him raise quality crops and livestock as well as learn about his family’s entire farm operation, from planting and applying fertilizer and chemicals to operating the combine and scouting the fields for pests and weeds. The farm includes 600 head of beef cattle and 3,900 acres of crops, including corn, soybeans, wheat, popcorn and dry edible beans. Marcellus Farms also produces alfalfa and native grass hay used for the cattle.

When his dad broke his leg in 2007, Marcellus stepped up to the plate, helping to make decisions on crop rotations, seed selection and equipment purchases and maintenance. He currently supervises and oversees the farm’s employees and assists with daily and long-term management. In 2011, he rented and farmed 300 acres of his own while a part of the Nebraska Beginning Farmers Program.

Marcellus is the son of Dwain and Nadine Marcellus. His FFA advisor is David Gibbens.

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.