North Dakota student receives Star Farmer award at 2011 National FFA Convention

What began as a two-acre onion crop in 2005 has since expanded to a 640-acre diversified crop farm for Cole Vculek. It could be just the beginning, as he hopes to farm up to 5,000 acres by the time he turns 30. This entrepreneurial spirit has now earned the 21-year-old Crete, N.D., resident the title of 2011 American Star Farmer from the National FFA Organization. American Star Farmer is one of the organization’s highest honors. He competed with three other finalists at the 84th National FFA Convention Oct. 19-22 in Indianapolis.

Each year at the national FFA convention, 16 national finalists — four in each category — vie for the organization’s top awards: American Star Farmer, American Star in Agribusiness, American Star in Agricultural Placement and American Star in Agriscience. These awards honor students who have developed outstanding agricultural skills and competencies through their supervised agricultural experience (SAE); demonstrated outstanding management skills; earned the American FFA Degree – the organization’s highest level of accomplishment; and met other agricultural education, scholastic and leadership requirements. Each finalist was interviewed by a panel of judges, who ultimately named the top candidate in each area. The winner was announced in an onstage convention ceremony and received a plaque and an award of $4,000. The runners-up also received plaques and $2,000 each.

For his first few years, Vculek rented land from neighbors. His first crop consisted of two acres of red onions. He quickly added more land and began growing potatoes. In 2009 he added more than 200 acres for a corn and soybean rotation, and he has also added navy beans to his operation. Recently Vculek purchased a 640-acre farm from a neighbor. He hopes to continue adding more cropland and also wants to add sugar beets as another part of his business.

Vculek is a fifth-generation farmer and currently operates on the land his great great grandfather homesteaded. He says the guidance his family has given him has been very beneficial in his success, and he also credits his involvement in FFA.

“The experience I have gained through FFA has allowed me to be more confident, set goals and be willing to try new things,” Vculek said. “I have seen the importance of being involved and giving back to my community and organizations.”

Vculek was a member of Oakes/Sargent Central FFA in Oakes, N.D. Vculek is a graduate of North Dakota State College of Science with a degree in Farm Management. His parents are Brian and Julie Vculek, and his chapter advisor was Daniel Spellerberg.

The American FFA Degree recognition programs are co-sponsored by Case IH of Racine, Wis.; Farm Credit Systems of Washington, D.C.; Pioneer Hi-Bred of Des Moines, Iowa; DTN – The Progressive Farmer of Omaha, Neb.; and Syngenta of Greensboro, N.C., as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.

Source: National FFA Organization