Thedford’s fledgling FFA group doing big things
for Tri-State Livestock News
Green Hand Degrees: Tucker Ballenger and Andrew Gordon
Chapter Degree: Jentri Sherman
Thedford – Under new tutelage of advisor Bridger Chytka, the second year of the FFA (Future Farmers of America) chapter at Thedford High School held their year ending award ceremony, installation of new officers for the 2017-2018 school year and their primary fundraising labor auction on April 28th.
The FFA invited the area cattle producer members of the Nebraska Cattlemen Sandhills Affiliate to join them so all could be inspired by the future Ag leaders and educated on the present happenings in the beef industry.
FFA president Jentri Sherman opened the FFA segment after a delicious potluck supper, where pulled beef brisket, compliments of the NCSA, was only one of the many delicious beef entrees.
Due to the limited number of members from last year, a full slate of FFA officers had not been filled at their first year ending ceremony. Besides Sherman, officers for 2017 included vice-president Kalee Jepsen and reporter, Morgan Rinestine. Jepsen was unable to attend, so the vice-president to be, Chase Haake assisted in the program. Other members included Shaylee Scranton, Ile Wilde, Savannah Thomas, Kaylin Parker, Caity Hesseltine, Lex Wilder, Cauy Pokorny, Andrew Gordon, and Tucker Ballenger. Eighth graders that will become members next year and who were present included Anthony Benscoter, Ariel Bryant, Rhiann Painter, Tyson Stengel.
Mr. Chytka congratulated the members on receiving Chapter Growth.
For the first year, the Hoffman Ranch awarded an ongoing scholarship to a member for the valiant effort of involvement, leadership and commitment to the FFA program. There were 19 events that members could attend throughout the year, winner Morgan Rinestine, participated in 17 of them, including attending the National and State FFA conventions. Rinestine will be a junior next year, and will receive her scholarship at her graduation in two years, which could be added to if she again is awarded the scholarship. “We wanted to recognize the member that has done the most to grow and learn,” stated Dixie Hoffman, who with her husband, Dennis, son and daughter-in-law, Jason and KayCee and their three children comprise the Hoffman Ranch north of Thedford.
Frank Utter, president of the NCSA awarded their two scholarships from their group. Previously a $1,000 scholarship, the award was increased to $1,250 through fundraising via a awinter ball held the Saturday closest to Valentine’s Day. They also organize and host a golf outing at the Dismal River Golf Club near Mullen followed that night with a supper and educational speaker (SAVE THE DATE – June 19 for this). A fall tour in their area is also conducted by the NCSA. The scholarships were awarded to seniors Jentri Sherman and Cade Pokorny.
Installation of officers for the 2017-2018 school year include – Sentinel- Lex Wilde, Treasurer – Kaylin Parker, Reporter- Morgan Rinestine, Secretary- Caity Hesseltine, Vice-President – Chase Haake and president – Cauy Pokorny. All incoming officers were read their perspective dutie. They agreed to carry them out to the best of their ability.
After the close of the official program, Tess Quittner, vice-president/secretary of the NCSA, discussed the attributes of the Nebraska Cattlemen (NC) Foundation, which awards thousands of dollars in scholarships to graduating seniors as well as secondary ag instructors. They raise funds through their annual ‘Retail Steer Challenge,’ where 200 steers are bought by individuals and businesses. Upon processing, awards for rate of gain, carcass, etc. are presented to the buyers.
Executive Vice-President of the NC, Pete McClymont and Melody Benjamin, NC vice president of member services gave a legislative update. Benjamin discussed the Nebraska Brand Committee (NBC) upcoming changes.
McClymont discussed LB 461, the bill that could assist in relief for the states’ property tax payers, the majority being Ag producers. The state funds have a deficit of over $60 million. Both McClymont and Benjamin urged those in the audience to contact the senators of the appropriations committee as they took $500,000 to begin with from the brand committee funds, but due to the complaints from livestock owners, returned $400,000. “That is good, but not enough, “stated Benjamin. “The money collected by brand inspections are a user fee, not a fund from taxes; the state should have no right to take from the brand commission. There are 100 inspectors in the state as well as the office staff that requires approximately $330,000 per month just in salaries. Even the $100,000 the state has taken is needed to cover expenses during the slack sale months.”
Benjamin also gave update on the modern technology the NBC will be utilizing after July 1. “The Nebraska Brand Committee (NBC) was created by the Legislature in 1941. Brand inspection fees make the NBC a self-supporting cash fund agency. Fees collected are in cash, change and checks. The office staff has three computers that do not even network between each of them. Every Monday, stacks of brown manila envelopes from those 100 inspectors come in the mail. Imagine a handful of staff going through those envelopes, manually handling those funds into their proper files. In July, the office and inspectors will gain modern technology thanks to Nebraska Interactive, LLC. This company is what our other state agencies such as the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) utilizes. Brand inspection fee will remain at its current level of $1.00 per head, $.06 of that will cover the cost of the innovative technology.”
All inspectors will have smartphone apps or iPads with the downloaded forms. All producers will be given a number, much like a social security number, so no other producer will have that number. Even if there is no Wi-Fi at the inspection site, the information can be put in and will be sent when the inspector gets connected.
Benjamin went on to explain how payment will be received. “Cash will still be taken, as it is U.S. tender so cannot go ‘cashless’ but the push to use credit cards, debit cards, by check or a picture of the check will be encouraged.” There has been some ‘rumblings’ from some of the inspectors that do not want to use the modern technology. “Hopefully that will be handled by the NBC hiring a training consultant who will train all, office staff and inspectors, smoothing the transition from paper to digital.”
California, Oregon and New Mexico already are utilizing modern technology to assist their brand committees but Nebraska will have the most in-depth use. Other states are waiting to see the success of Nebraska before they begin their transition from paper to digital. The company is also working on feedlots to be able to use digital transfer of cattle shipments, but that will not be available until closer to the end of the year. Benjamin added that producers that have bought cattle and then sell them later will not have to carry a paper trail to the salebarn. “The producer number will be opened and all buying and selling that has been done will be on the screen.”
The evening concluded with Evan Hewett, a junior at Sandhills High School, Dunning, an up and coming auctioneer, conducted the labor auction. The group sold fruit earlier to raise funds to help them attend their judging contests, district speech activities, state and national conventions among other activities. The Thedford blue jackets, that all FFA members worldwide wear with pride, collected over $2,200 dollars from the fifteen members. Advisor Chytka was a good sport also selling, although he did not bring as much as some of his students.