Raised on a family farm in North Dakota, Vance Zacharias today approaches production farming as a business.
That’s because his family farm has always been run like a business. His father was CEO and his mother was the business manager. He and his two brothers eventually joined an uncle as fulltime employees.
Five years ago, when his uncle decided to retire and put his land up for sale, Zacharias wanted to jump at the chance – but first, he sat down with his mother and father and mapped out all of the feasibilities, logistics and financial demands.
“They helped me negotiate a price for the land, set up a contract for the deed and helped me make the down payment,” he said. “Once all of that was done, my parents helped me develop goals, processes and procedures for my operation, including rental agreements for machinery, storage facilities and handling facilities. My parents have always motivated and encouraged me. They’re a huge part of my success today.”
Today, Zacharias plants nearly 2,000 acres of corn and soybeans and uses profits to expand his family farm’s operation. He has his sights set on taking over the business some day in partnership with his brothers and continuing to grow operations and activities.
Zacharias is a 2013 finalist for an American Star Farmer 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.
Zacharias, 21, is a member of the Enderlin Area High School FFA chapter in Enderlin, N.D., led by advisor Bob Moller. He served as secretary, vice president and president of his chapter and won numerous state and national FFA awards, including the State Star Farmer award in North Dakota in 2010, national winner in Fiber and Oil Crop Production and third in national agricultural mechanics.
The son of Dorinda and Vaughn Zacharias, he is currently attending North Dakota State University and majoring in agricultural economics.
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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.