This post is the last in our series of Nebraska FFA Officers where you get to know the 2013-14 team. This month, let’s meet State President Spencer Hartman from the Imperial FFA Chapter.
I enjoy hanging out with friends and watching movies in my free time. Some of my favorite games to play for fun are ten-point pitch, Monopoly and The Farming Game, which I’ve been known to play for periods of eight hours or more at a time.
What were your Supervised Agricultural Experiences and how did you become involved in them?
I had a few SAEs, my two biggest were in the areas of Beef Production and Vegetable Production. I got started with my beef operation seven years ago when my dad gifted both my sisters and I each a heifer, and we also bought one a piece, making our total herd size six. The first crop of calves yielded five heifers and one steer. We retained all the heifers, nearly doubling the size of our herd, and have been growing it ever since. As I gained experience and knowledge in the beef industry I began investing in pens of feedlot cattle at a local feedyard. I was only able to accomplish this because I had done my homework and became well-educated on the process, and after not accepting no for an answer I found a banker who took a leap a faith with me.
My other SAE is growing hydroponic tomatoes and marketing them as locally grown and vine-ripened. I began this project four years ago when a lady in the area who had been growing them decided to retire. I started small with only 35 plants the first year and had a total crop failure. Learning from all of my mistakes, I began having profitable years and growing the business. This last spring, I finished building my third large greenhouse and have the capacity to grow over 800 plants next spring. As a result of the experiences I’ve had with these businesses, I received the honor of being named the state star in agribusiness.
What are your future career goals?
I want to be a venture capitalist and own my own firm. Later in life, I want to serve the public sector by holding public office.
What inspired you to run for a state officer position?
The first recollection I have of being interested in running for a state officer position was my 8th grade year sitting in Pershing Auditorium during the Thursday night session. However, throughout high school years I was fearful that I wouldn’t be a good state officer and knew that the commitment was huge. I did ultimately decide to run. The four things I wanted to share with members throughout my year come from the fourth paragraph of the creed: less power in begging and more in bargaining, in the life abundant and enough honest wealth to make it so, in less reliance on charity and more of it when needed, and in being happy with myself and playing square with those whose happiness depends on me. I am humbled to have the privilege of stating at the end of closing ceremonies, “and above all honest and fair in the game of life,” and have made it my mission to live by those words.
What has been the best part of your officer year so far?
The best part of my year so far has been the connections with members across the state. I love the small group settings and getting to know people. I have been inspired by some of the projects FFA members are working on, and can’t even begin to explain the level of passion that these members have. It is rewarding for me to listen to peoples’ stories and know that what we are doing makes a real difference for real people in real places for the future of agriculture.