Both of Aaron Zimmerman’s parents grew up on farms. But he didn’t.
One day, when he was just 9, Zimmerman’s grandfather called him on the phone, said he had just bought a heifer and wondered if he’d be interested in showing it in the county fair that summer.
“After my first year of showing, I was hooked,” he said.
Today, Zimmerman maintains a herd of 20 cattle. Through his business, he’s realized the importance of marketing and advertising. With an interest in graphic design, the Wisconsin FFA member turned his talents to developing a new website for his local FFA chapter. The experience and skills he has gained has helped grow his business and market it through the development of sales catalogs, business cards, ads, logos and more. He has also been hired to complete creative work for livestock producers and associations and other agricultural businesses and organizations.
“Although my business is small, it’s growing,” he said. “I’d like to someday be able to expand into livestock sales management and livestock sales photography and videography.”
Zimmerman is a 2013 finalist for an American in Agribusiness 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.
Zimmerman, 18, is a member of the Spencer High School FFA chapter in Spencer, Wis. He is the son of Mark Zimmerman, who also serves as his FFA advisor, and Cheryl Zimmerman. He has won numerous state and national FFA awards, including Wisconsin’s State Star Farmer, Star in Agribusiness and Star in Agriscience; three first-place awards in the Wisconsin FFA Agriscience Fair and first place in the National FFA Agriscience Fair. He has served as Wisconsin FFA vice president, a delegate representing Wisconsin at the National FFA Convention & Expo and president, vice president and treasurer of his local FFA chapter.
He is currently attending University of Wisconsin at River Falls majoring in animal science with hopes of obtaining a master’s degree and pursuing a career in beef cattle reproduction and genetics.
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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.