Dream Attained Through FFA Accomplishments
By Alec Schoof
Kellie Einck states that she was born in town, so she never considered farming as a goal. Once Kellie began her involvement in the South O’Brien FFA Chapter, it became evident how important agriculture is to a small-town community. Kellie adds, “Even if you’re not in farming, the farmers are important to the community, so you learn to appreciate everything about it.” Ultimately, after becoming an extremely active FFA member, the conclusion that Kellie gives regarding the impact that FFA has had on her career is that, “It’s huge. I think it’s been an important role in everything I do in life.”
Kellie’s Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) transitioned in much the same way. When she was 14, Kellie worked at Bob and Scott’s, the Primghar grocery store. Next she worked at Randy’s Service Station in Primghar doing oil changes and small repairs. During her Jr. and Sr. years of high school, Kellie attended NCC and earned a degree in Diesel Technology. This led her to a full time job at ICON Ag & Turf in Paullina starting as a service tech and then becoming the Service Manager. As Kellie notes, her SAE evolved from a small part-time job to obtaining a degree to getting a full-time job in that field.
This is some of the criteria that earned Kellie Einck the 2017 American Star in Agricultural Placement at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, October 24-27. This award is presented to the FFA member with the best placement SAE program and proven leadership skills. Initially, the judges select four American Star Finalists in each award area (American Star Farmer, American Star in Agribusiness, American Star in Agricultural Placement, and American Star in Agriscience) from the submitted applicants. These sixteen American Star Award Finalists are invited to attend the National FFA Convention where they receive a plaque and $2,000. At the convention the four finalists from the four award categories (sixteen total) are re-evaluated. Judges score their written applications and interview them about their application and SAE project. The American Star in each area is announced live on stage during the convention. The winning American Star recipients receive another plaque and another $2,000.
Kellie recalls that the first step was filling out the application. SAE recordkeeping was essential to this process. It’s also important to detail any skills that you’ve learned through your FFA project. Not to just explain that now you know how to do a specific task, but to stipulate the specific skills that show how much you’ve grown as an FFA member. This includes life skills like leadership skills and communication skills. Kellie refers back to her FFA involvement where she participated in contests like job interview, creed speaking, public speaking, etc. “You don’t think that it’s very important at the time, but then later in life you can talk to people easier.” This FFA participation gave her the foundation that she needed for her ability to speak in front of an audience. She lists giving her commencement address at college and reading in church as examples. Additionally, the application requests the number of volunteer hours that a FFA member contributes to the community outside of FFA and work. According to Kellie, the application for the American Star is lengthy and is not just about the individual who makes the most money or works the most hours. The whole process is talking about you the applicant: what you’ve done, what you’ve learned, and how you’ve grown. And for Kellie, that’s talking about what she does and what she loves – mechanical engineering.
Kellie’s interview was on Thursday, October 26 with her live on stage award session the same night. She explained that after her interview, she was happy with how it had gone. At that point, she indicated that she was pretty confident and not nervous at all. Going on stage was a different feeling, it was very thrilling and scary. “I don’t even know the words to describe it.” It was nerve racking not knowing if you’ll be walking off stage when someone else’s name is announced or if you’ll hear your name called as you’re directed to the center of the stage. Next after being announced as the American Star winner, is disbelief. You walk off stage feeling kinda numb and not completely grasping what just happened. Suddenly, “you have a million people trying to talk to you and take your pictures and you don’t really know how you feel right now, you’re just stunned.”
The American Star Award represents the best of the best among thousands of American FFA Degree recipients. In addition to the American Star in Agricultural Placement, Kellie also received her American FFA Degree. Actually a member may only apply for a Star Award the same year that they apply for their American FFA Degree. Along with the recordkeeping, an applicant must have a required number of both work and volunteer hours, completed/enrolled postsecondary schooling hours, attained their state degree, remained active in the FFA chapter, and graduated from high school at least a year prior with a certified scholastic record. Kellie’s original goal was to achieve her American Degree because not a lot of people from South O’Brien continue their records to earn it. Kellie was one of two South O’Brien FFA members to receive their American Degrees at National Convention this year, becoming the program’s 5th and 6th recipients.
Kellie credits Mr. Kumm for his encouragement in attaining both her American Degree and the American Star in Agricultural Placement Award. She mentioned that Mr. Kumm helps his students anyway he can, so she definitely wanted to make him proud. Together with, perseverance and devotion, Kellie contributes her career and her accomplishments to the FFA program. A bonus to these accolades is that Kellie has acquired her dream profession.
Dream Attained Through FFA Accomplishments