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

INDIANAPOLIS (September, 2012/National FFA Organization) - Kurt Parsons will never forget what his teacher told him on the first day of his agriculture science class at Porterville High School in California.

“He told me that my high school career could be the greatest adventure in my life,” Parsons, now 20-years-old, said.

Little did Parsons know then that his award-winning career in FFA would present him with exciting opportunities that could win him top honors.

The National FFA Organization has named Parsons 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.

For more than 100 years, the Parsons family has farmed in central California, making agriculture and FFA a sure fit for Kurt, who works for Parsons and Sons Farming. The operation harvests more than 14,000 acres of various field crops, including vegetable seeds, grains and hay, each year. Kurt began helping on the farm when he was 8 years old; over the years, he added a wealth of farming knowledge to his work experience, from planting crops to working with new and potential customers.

In 2010, the Parson family suffered a terrible loss; Kurt’s father passed away from a sudden heart attack. Stricken with grief, Kurt and his family were left to fill a gaping hole where their father once stood.

“We were faced with a choice to either fold the operation or pick ourselves up and do the best we could to move forward.” Kurt said.

Recalling all that their father had taught them – honesty, responsibility, integrity – the family chose the latter; the farm has grown in size and profitability ever since.

Kurt attends Modesto Junior College and is majoring in crop science. He is the son of John and Cecillia Parsons. His FFA advisors are Isaac Robles, Gabriel Ponce and Todd Coons.

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.