For Andrew Streff, an interest in agriculture is all in the family.
“Growing up, my brothers and I had this sandbox out back of our house. We’d go outside — supposed to be playing in the sandbox—and then go running off to the shed to hang out with Dad to work on equipment,” Streff said. “So, the passion has been there, right from the beginning.”
Streff, who hails from the McCook Central FFA Chapter in Salem, S.D., started his supervised agricultural experience (SAE) on the family farm, tending to 1,500 acres of corn and soybeans with his father.
“I was driving a tractor on my own since I was 10 years old, and that really transitioned well into my FFA career once I got into that during high school,” he said.
He added on to his SAE by completing two internships. His first internship was in 2017 with the Central Farmers Cooperative as a crop scout intern. In that role, Streff surveyed thousands of acres of crops and reported their status to local farmers. Then, he crossed state lines to work as an agriculture technology specialist intern at Winfield United in Ohio, running test plot trials and helping crop producers troubleshoot issues.
Streff said a person can never know too much about agriculture, and continuing to get education is key.
“Every day is a learning experience, and FFA really emphasized that you can take advantage of a learning experience in a work environment,” he said. “You don’t have to sit in a classroom to learn.”
Though he’ll look for opportunities to work in the ag business sector after graduating from South Dakota State University in spring 2020, Streff hopes the family ties to farming will live on with the help of new knowledge from his placement experiences.
“Eventually a long-term goal is to take over the family farm and continue running that operation and growing it so that I can hopefully pass it down one day to my children,” he said.