At the 2015 National FFA Convention, Austin Wippel was named Star American Farmer, the top honor an FFA member can receive. The 21-year-old began baling 30 acres of straw before becoming an FFA member in 2009 and today he owns and operates a hay and straw baling business as well as farms 65 acres of row crop production.
The American Star Awards, including the American Star Farmer, are awarded to FFA members who demonstrate outstanding agricultural skills and competencies through completion of a Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) program. A required activity in FFA, an SAE allows students to learn by doing by either owning and operating an agricultural business, working or serving an internship at an agriculture-based business or conducting an agriculture-based scientific experiment and reporting results.
Austin is only the fifth person from Ohio to receive this award and is the first in more than 30 years.
Maggie Hovermale received the National Agricultural Processing Proficiency Award. Maggie is employed at a local honey operation where she processes honey, beeswax and bee pollen. She is involved in all aspects of the processing operation, including production, packing, storage and sales.
After working at farmers markets every weekend for a summer, her customer service skills and product knowledge created about the products to boost sales for the farm by 7 percent. She has learned that processing high-quality products takes hard work, practice and dedication.