Thursday night’s Stars Over America Pageant at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse during the National FFA Convention has added meaning for Indiana FFA. This year three Hoosier FFA members have been named 2017 American Star Award Finalists with a chance to be named the overall winner in three of the four categories.
Leah Danielle Hefty of the DeKalb FFA Chapter is one of four finalists for the American Star in Agriscience. Two finalists are from the Shenandoah FFA Chapter, including finalist for American Star in Agricultural Placement, Devin Debruhl.
“I am working fulltime now with my family’s companies manufacturing pole barns, stamping steel truss plates, and manufacturing wooden trusses,” he said. “I work fulltime and go to work part time.”
American Star in Agribusiness finalist Nathan DeYoung is a current Ball State student from Middletown.
“I own and operate my own business, Innovative Communications and Marketing where I specialize in providing communications based products for the agriculture industry and those abroad,” he told HAT. “So it’s a culmination of website design, graphic design, photography, that’s what I’m doing through my SAE.”
The American Star Awards recognize FFA members who have developed outstanding agricultural skills and competencies through the completion of a supervised agricultural experience (SAE) program. Finalists have spent countless hours to have a chance to get to this point, the pinnacle of their FFA career.
“For me it’s been humbling to conclude my FFA career in this capacity,” DeYoung said. “I look back at where I first started from when I first joined FFA and now concluding this week with my career, it’s been a humbling experience and it’s help me grow tremendously.”
Debruhl said he’s honored to have been selected to the final four.
“The work has been really tough because you have to put a lot of hours in and a lot of time into the paperwork from your sophomore year all the way to now, plus all the hard work for our actual jobs. We work 24/7 and go to school, so the work to get here has been really tough, but it’s very rewarding.”
A required activity in FFA, an SAE allows members to learn by doing. Members can own and operate an agricultural business, intern at an agricultural business or conduct an agriculture-based scientific experiment and report the 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. Final judging takes place Thursday.
The full HAT interview:Devin-Debruhl-and-Nathan-DeYoung
American Star Farmer Finalists:
Joseph Arnold of the Lac qui Parle Valley FFA Chapter in Minnesota
Nickolas James Vollmer of the Merino FFA Chapter in Colorado
Jake Fanning of the Laverne FFA Chapter in Oklahoma
Mark Cavallero of the Madera FFA Chapter in California
American Star in Agribusiness Finalists:
Nathan M. DeYoung of the Shenandoah FFA Chapter in Indiana
Austin D. Nordyke of the Hugoton FFA Chapter in Kansas
Audra Montgomery of the Carrington FFA Chapter in North Dakota
Shaun Wenrick of the Anna FFA Chapter in Ohio
American Star in Agricultural Placement Finalists:
Matthew S. Ries of the Lomira FFA Chapter in Wisconsin
Devin Debruhl of the Shenandoah FFA Chapter in Indiana
Kellie Mae Einck of the South O’Brien FFA Chapter in Iowa
Bailey Wilson of the Pilot Point FFA Chapter in Texas
American Star in Agriscience Finalists:
Chrysta Noelle Beck of the Pettisville FFA Chapter in Ohio
Elizabeth Baker-Mikesell of the Greenwood FFA Chapter in Pennsylvania
Leah Danielle Hefty of the DeKalb FFA Chapter in Indiana
Loren Gregory King of the Branch Area Career Centers FFA Chapter in Michigan