National FFA Organization Names California Resident 2019 Star Farmer
INDIANAPOLIS (Friday, Nov. 1, 2019/National FFA Organization) – Most of America’s farms are located in Midwestern states like Iowa and Kansas, but California is host to its fair share of farmers as well – including Willis Wolf, member of the Merced – El Capitan FFA Chapter.
For the past few years, Wolf has been working on his supervised agricultural experience (SAE), raising both goats and the hay forage to feed them. He said his family is not known for goats, but he wanted to learn how to handle new kinds of livestock.
“The reason why I do it is because the commercial goat industry is … a growing market,” Wolf said. “Each year, it keeps growing and growing. Not enough production of goats is happening. There’s a huge void there, so the demand needs to be met.”
Wolf added that handling goats has been a wild ride. They sell for steady prices every year, but due to their natural rowdiness, goats are anything but predictable.
“You never know [what’s coming],” he said. “They’re jumping on the fence, and it’s like, ‘How the heck did they jump that 5-foot-tall fence?’”
Wolf farms in central California, less than an hour’s drive from cities like Modesto and Fresno. He said the two major ways farming in California differs from the rest of the country are crop diversity and water shortages.
“You’ll be standing next to an almond orchard next to an apple orchard next to corn next to tomatoes,” Wolf said. “During the summer, everything’s irrigated. … There’s a huge competition for water between major cities and farmers.”
As a current student at California State University, Fresno, Wolf said his involvement in FFA has kept him driven to seek new opportunities and spread his agricultural knowledge to a wider audience.
“I was motivated to better myself, get more roles in the agriculture community and spread the word about why farmers do certain things,” he said. “My roommate asked me questions all the time about agriculture. He always hears these things, especially [that] we waste too much water. I said, ‘Do you like to eat?’”
Wolf said his best advice for FFA members wanting to start their own SAE is to always ask for help, just like he did.
“Talk to your ag teachers and let them know you want to do something,” he said. “They’re always willing to help. … They have connections that they could help you set up.”
As Wolf continues to grow his goat farming operation, he said he hopes to one day see his goat meat on a store shelf. In the meantime, he gives his condolences to farmers in humid Midwestern states.
“I visited Oklahoma to do a livestock training camp with a friend of mine,” Wolf said. “It was 80 degrees. I was like, ‘Ah, it’s not that bad.’ Holy smokes, man. I needed to change my shirt!”
About the American Star Awards
Each year at the National FFA Convention & Expo, four FFA members are honored with American Star Awards for outstanding accomplishments in FFA and agricultural education.
The American Star Awards, including American Star Farmer, American Star in Agribusiness, American Star in Agricultural Placement and American Star in Agriscience, are presented to FFA members who demonstrate outstanding agricultural skills and competencies through completion of an SAE. A required activity in FFA, an SAE allows students to learn by doing, by either owning or 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. were nominated by a panel of judges who then interviewed the finalists during the national convention and expo. Four were named winners and received cash awards totaling $4,000. All American Star finalists received a $2,000 cash award. Case IH, Elanco Animal Health and Syngenta sponsor the awards.
Judging occurred in Indianapolis during the 92nd National FFA Convention & Expo, Oct. 31-Nov. 2, with the winners announced during a
The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to more than 700,000 student members who belong to one of the more than 8,600 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization is also supported by more than 8 million alumni and supporters throughout the U.S.
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About National FFA Organization
The National FFA Organization is a national youth organization of more than 700,000 student members as part of 8,600 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. 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. For more, visit the National FFA Organization online at FFA.org and on Facebook, Twitter, and the official news page of the National FFA Organization.
About National FFA Foundation
The National FFA Foundation builds partnerships with industry, education, government, other foundations, and individuals to secure financial resources that recognize FFA member achievements, develop student leaders, and support the future of agricultural education. Governed by a 19-member board of trustees com