Wisconsin lawn care business owner named 2012 Star in Agribusiness by National FFA Organization

INDIANAPOLIS (September, 2012/National FFA Organization) - A 21-year-old Wisconsin entrepreneur has earned one of the nation’s top honors in agriculture for successfully owning and operating an agriculture-based business.

Jacob Paul of Fox Lake, Wis., has been named a 2012 Star in Agribusiness finalist by the National FFA Organization. He will compete with three other finalists in this category 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.

Paul has worked at his family’s farm, Paul Farms, since 2005, where he completed diversified crop and diversified crop/beef production supervised agricultural experiences. Supervised agricultural experiences are required by FFA and are projects that students 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.

These learn-by-doing projects give FFA members invaluable experience as they progress through their educational careers. Combined, Paul has completed 8,543 hours of supervised agricultural experiences over the course of seven years.

Paul owns and operates T&J Lawn Care, which was co-founded and co-owned by Paul, his brother and his father in 2005. His biggest client is the town of Fox Lakes, which contracts with Paul’s business for mowing town cemeteries, public lawns, parks, public boat landings and highway medians and side ditches.

In high school, Paul was a four-year FFA member, completing four years and 720 hours of agricultural education at Randolph Cambria-Friesland High School in Cambria, Wis. His chapter advisor was Keith Gundlach. He received a State FFA Degree in 2009. Today, in addition to working on the family farm and owning and operating T&J Lawn Care, Paul is taking classes at Madison Area Technical College with a career goal of being a partner in his family farm’s operation.

He is the son on Dale Paul, a local farmer, and Laura Helmer, owner of Laurali Trucking.

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.