Karl Kerns was awarded the Star Agribusinessman of Iowa award, seven students received the Iowa FFA degree awards and two groups received competition medals when the Mount Ayr Community FFA chapter went to the 82nd annual FFA state leadership conference in Des Moines April 15-16.
A total of 14 Mount Ayr Community FFA chapter members took part in the event.
Karl Kerns was named to the prestigious Star Agribusiness of Iowa award at the conference this year.
When students fill out their Iowa FFA Degree applications, they can ask to be considered for one of the three Star awards (Star Agribusiness, Star Ag Placement, Star Ag Production).
There is a winner selected from each district (there are six districts in the state) and Kern’s projects were chosen at the south central Iowa representative. A final interview process is held at the state leadership conference where a panel of business and industry professionals pick the state Stars.
“These Star awards recognize students who have developed outstanding agricultural skill and competency through their career development programs, demonstrated outstanding management skills, earned the State FFA Degree—the state association’s highest level of accomplishment—and met other agricultural education, scholarship and leadership requirements,” according to the national FFA organization.
As a freshman, Kerns established a small kennel, from which he sells puppies to states all across the U.S. as well as some internationally. Since that time, he has started his own online business, classicpoos.com, and has grown the size of his breeding stock to include additional breeds.
Kerns has gained extensive knowledge about managing a small kennel, including nutrition, health, mating, artificial insemination and selection as well as how to market puppies online with search engine optimization techniques, Google Ads and various puppy ad websites.
In addition to his puppy enterprise, Kerns also completed a swine production supervised agricultural experience program and an agri-science project.
Kerns is currently serving as the Mount Ayr Community FFA chapter vice president.
Upon graduation, Kerns plans to attend Iowa State University, majoring in molecular reproductive physiology.
He is the son of Steve and Becky Kerns. His advisors have been Justin Akers and Jack Cook.
Iowa FFA degrees
Kerns was one of seven Mount Ayr Community FFA members receiving their Iowa FFA degrees at the state leadership conference.
Others included were Weston Pierschbacher, Devin Winemiller, Russell Reynolds, Tom Hosfield, Tiffany Wimer and Jamie Novak.
With the new Iowa FFA degree members, the chapter has had a total of 232 members receive the honor over the years.
Weston Pierschbacher is the son of Curt and Sandy Pierschbacher and has a supervised ag experience project in horse training and ag production placement.
Devin Winemiller is the son of Damion and Shelley Bogan. His SAE project involved ag placement in swine production and diversified livestock production.
Russell Reynolds is the son of Nancy Reynolds and his SAE involves dog and goat production.
Tom Hosfield is the son of Gary and Linda Hosfield. His SAE involves beef production and an ag placement project with the Ringgold County Conservation Board.
Tiffany Wimer is the daughter of Mike and Shelly Wimer. Her SAE involves beef and sheep production as well as an ag placement in a local restaurant.
Jamie Novak is the daughter of James and Felicia Novak. Her SAE has included beef and goat production and an ag placement project working at the Iowa State Fair Youth Inn.
To receive the Iowa FFA Degree, FFA members must meet the following standards:
1. Have been an active FFA member for at least 24 months.
2. Have completed at least two years of systematic instruction in agricultural education.
3. Have earned and productively invested at least $1,000 or worked at least 300 hours in a supervised agricultural experience program.
4. Have a satisfactory scholastic record.
5. Have demonstrated leadership abilities from a specific list of activities.
6. Have participated in at least five different FFA activities above the local level.
The degrees and the Stars over Iowa presentation were given during the fourth general session of the conference, which took place Friday afternoon.
Competitors at state
The Mount Ayr Community FFA chapter had two teams competing in contests at the state conference as well.
The farm business management team of Jamie Novak, Karl Kerns, Tiffany Wimer and Tom Hosfield received a gold medal and placed seventh in the team portion of the competition.
The ag communications team of Matt Kerns, Alex Sobotka, Ashley Phelps and Johnathan Triggs, received a silver medal and placed 10th in the state.
Three members -- Karl Kerns, Tiffany Wimer and Tom Hosfield -- received the academic achievement award Thursday evening.
The award is based on being a four-year FFA member, having a viable SAE project all four years and having a high grade point average.
Other awards received the by chapter included:
-- being recognized as a silver sponsor of the Iowa FFA Foundation.
-- being recognized as a 100 percent membership chapter by having all students enrolled in ag education being members of the FFA chapter.
Other students attending state leadership conference this year were Alyssa Adams and Nichole Phelps, who were the Mount Ayr Community chapter’s official delegates, and Christian Overholtzer, who carried the chapter’s flag during the massing of the flags ceremony at the beginning of the second general session. Donetta Phelps and Jack Cook chaperoned the group.
The students also enjoyed attending workshops, touring the large career show, and watching state level competition in CDE’s during the conference.