Meet Your 2016-17 Nebraska State FFA Vice President: Christy Cooper

Christy Cooper is the daughter of John and Karen. She grew up outside of Waverly on her family farm where they raise beef cattle, grow corn and soybeans, and put up hay. On the IMG_1502farm they also have peacocks, chickens, show hogs, horses, and goats. Her SAE projects connect to her future career where she hopes to manage a ranch and be able to incorporate new technology in agriculture. Eventually, she wants to start her own cattle herd, and is also interested in agriculture advocacy on international levels in the future. She majors in Agricultural Education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

After completing the intro to agriculture course as a freshman at Waverly, she promptly enrolled in more agriculture courses. She was amazed by all the things she was learning. She continued to learn about agriculture outside of the classroom though her Supervised Agricultural Experience program. She has an agriscience SAE where she conducts different research projects. She also has an entrepreneurial beef and  production components of her SAE program.


Meet Your 2016-17 Nebraska State FFA Vice President: Collin Swedberg

Collin Swedberg lives on his family’s fifth generation farm with his parents, four brothers, and one and only sister. The farm is only a couple of miles outsideIMG_1463 of North Platte, but he attended school in Wallace because he valued having agriculture classes be part of his high school education. He is majoring in Agricultural Education at UNL.

He enjoyed his high school coursework in agricultural leadership, livestock management and many other areas. As a result of the knowledge that he gained through the agriculture classes he has taken, he was able to participate in a variety of different activities that the FFA organization has to offer. Some of his favorites include livestock evaluation, parliamentary procedure, and his all-time favorite – nursery and landscape. His agriculture classes and FFA events are what interested him in pursuing his entrepreneurial vegetable production Supervised Agricultural Experience program he grows and sells produce at the local farmers market.

Meet Your 2016-17 Nebraska State FFA Secretary: Nicholas Taylor

Nicholas Taylor from the Logan View FFA chapter lives on his family’s farm where they grow corn and soybeans outside of Nickerson. His tractor and combine rides with his DadIMG_1477 and Grandpa first sparked his interest in agriculture. He will major in Actuarial Science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Ever since he saw his brother in FFA, he wanted to join. He felt like this was the perfect way to demonstrate his interest in agriculture and continue to learn upon what his dad and grandpa had taught him. He could not wait to take his first agriculture class – Agri-business. After that, he took Agri-business II, Ag Mechanics, Horticulture, and Ag Employment. His favorite FFA activities have been prepared public speaking, National FFA band, and creed speaking.

Working on the family farm was a part of his diversified crop production Supervised Agricultural Experience program. The other part of his SAE included working at Syngenta Seeds research plots. He also has an entrepreneurial vegetable production segment of his SAE. All of these components of his SAE have prepared him for his career goals by providing funds for his higher education and giving him business experience in running his own vegetable production business.

Meet Your 2016-17 Nebraska State FFA Vice President: Cheyenne Gerlach

Cheyenne Gerlach from DeWitt was raised by her parents, Rick and Amy, on a small swine IMG_1509operation. She has three older brothers, a younger sister, and a younger brother. Her childhood was spent watching her older brothers put on their blue jackets as she waited for it to be her turn. She has been in the show ring since she was five and many of her favorite memories come from shows, late nights in the farrowing house, and early mornings in the pasture. She plans to work someday as a lobbyist in international food security. Her plan is to not only be an advocate for pro-agriculture laws and policy that will help feed developing countries, but eventually, she wants to be an agent of change. In college her major is agricultural economics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Some of her favorite agriculture classes include Natural Resources, Animal Science, Horticulture, and Agribusiness. Her most memorable FFA experiences include being a participant in the Ag Issues Academy, National FFA Convention, and Washington Leadership Conference. These experiences opened her eyes to the work that needs to be done to share the truth about agriculture. She was inspired to create her own agriculture advocacy blog as a result of her FFA experiences. .

Her agricultural education Supervised Agricultural Experience program served as a stepping stone to her future career goals. It provided her with opportunities to communicate the truth about the ag industry, which for her is just the beginning. One component of her work-based learning experience included teaching elementary classrooms about Norman Borlaug, genetically modified organisms, and world hunger. She also include diversified horticulture production and swine production as other components of her program.

In addition to FFA, she has also been involved with the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute, 4-H, and speech team. At the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute, she deeply explored the work of Norman Borlaug, met with experts from around the world about food insecurity, and started looking for her role in the fight against hunger.

Transform at the 2016 National FFA Convention October 19-22

In 1928, only 33 students attended the first National FFA Convention from 18 states. Those 33 young men elected Leslie Applegate as the first National FFA President. In 1929, the FFA colors officially became national blue and corn gold. The jackets worn today were adopted as official dress in 1933. Now, FFA programs are in all 50 states and two US territories. Across the United States there are 7,575 chapters. In Nebraska, there are 175 chapters with 7,400 FFA members.
Nebraska FFA members have transformed over the years to excel in their Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE), Career Development Events (CDE), Leadership Skills Events (LSE), community service projects and leadership in their communities.
Nebraska FFA has many members and chapters competing in events at National FFA Convention October 19-22 in Indianapolis.


  • 147 American Degrees will be awarded to Nebraska FFA members.
  • Jordan Paine of the Southern Valley FFA Chapter is an American Star Finalist in Agriscience.
  • Seth Janssen of the Waverly FFA Chapter is an Agricultural Mechanics Repair and Maintenance Entrepreneurship Proficiency Finalist.
  • Brent Miller of the Lyons- Decatur FFA Chapter is an Agriscience Research- Integrated Systems Proficiency Finalist.
  • 15 Nebraska FFA Chapters will be awarded with Star National Chapter Awards.

Today is National Teach Ag Day


Today is National Teach Ag Day. This is a day to celebrate school-based agricultural education and to encourage agricultural education advocates, especially current agricultural educators (middle school, high school, post-secondary, pre-service programs, etc.) to share with others the great career opportunities in agricultural education.

Many of you are aware of the shortage of teachers, which has been affecting Nebraska, among other states, for the last several years. So in addition to saying thank you to our agriculture education teachers, I wanted to share a few facts from Matt Kreifels, Nebraska’s State Director of Agricultural Education, about the ag teacher supply and demand as it stands today.

Here’s the update he gave me:

  • Nebraska schools posted 44 openings for teachers this last spring.  Compare that to 21 openings in 2011.
  • Nebraska has added 45 new agricultural education programs since 2010.
  • Nebraska now has 14 schools that have two agricultural education teachers on faculty.
  • UNL graduated 11 student teachers in the 2015-16 academic year with 100% teaching placements.
  • UNL expects to graduate 10 student teachers for the 2016-17 school year.
  • UNL is expecting between 25-30 UNL students  completing their student teaching semester during the 2017-18 academic year.

While there are many factors contributing to the growth of agriculture education teachers as a profession, we attribute part of the growth to the National State Teach Ag Results (STAR) initiative. This was a program that Nebraska’s Team Ag Ed engaged with three years ago. It included a collaborative support for pre-service teachers to engage with current teachers in professional development, retention programs for teachers and Teach Ag internships. The Nebraska FFA Foundation and its partners have helped make this program possible and we are excited to see the successes of the initiative.

Meet Your 2016-17 Nebraska State FFA Vice President: Manuel Acosta

Manuel (Manny) Acosta has lived in Bayard for the past thirtIMG_1489een years with his parents – Juan and Mary,  brother Gordon, and sister Martha. He attended Bayard Public schools. He is a student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, majoring in agricultural economics. His goal is to work in production agriculture management in the future.

While growing up in a rural town, becoming involved in agriculture was not a difficult task. Starting in fifth grade he began breeding, raising, and showing rabbits and chickens. His passion for agriculture grew stronger when he entered the agriculture classroom as a freshman. Taking agriculture classes has allowed him to gain a better insight on the agriculture industry, and has allowed him to grow in his Supervised Agricultural Experience program as well.

His placement SAE of diversified agricultural production includes working at Kildow Farms, a local farm and ranch. He works during the summer and part time throughout the fall. His SAE consists mainly of irrigating and he also sprays crops, works cattle, and helps with harvest. Working at Kildow Farms has made him want to further his education to pursue a career in the agriculture industry.