A Yukon FFA member was named a “2020 Star in Agriscience” during the 2020 Virtual National FFA Convention.
Agriscience is a family affair for Nicole Stevens.
Scott Stevens, her father and an FFA advisor for Yukon Public Schools, encouraged his children to participate in the National FFA Agriscience Fair. Throughout Nicole’s years in FFA, scientific research became a bonding point for the father-daughter pair.
“We competed every year, many projects a year sometimes,” Nicole Stevens said. “My sophomore year, I had six. We really liked science. It was super fun for us.”
Starting in eighth grade and going into college, Stevens has been involved in various types of agriscience research, from plant science to animal science.
“For me, the main goal for my research was to make myself a better ag teacher, because I love agriscience so much,” said Stevens, who is now working toward a master’s degree in agricultural education at Oklahoma State University. “I wanted to spread myself through each different type of research.”
In her most recent research experience, Stevens studied ruminant digestion. Using cannulas to insert and remove feed samples in cattle stomachs, the project measured digestion processes to formulate more cost-effective feeding practices. This is particularly important, Stevens said, because of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the cattle industry.
“Beef prices are so expensive because it’s so hard to produce enough beef for the consumers, with all the processing plants being shut down and stuff like that,” Stevens said. “So trying to find out more cost-efficient ways for those farmers to produce enough animals in that time frame with that situation right now, that’s why that research is super important.”
Stevens hopes to take her research experience to the classroom. After earning her master’s degree, Stevens will teach agricultural education for a few years and then return to school for her doctorate. Her advice for FFA members interested in agriscience: Go for it.
“Agriscience is super adaptable,” Stevens said. “[There] is such a broad range that there’s something that every student can be passionate about.”
Each year at the National FFA Convention & Expo, four FFA members are honored with American Star Awards for outstanding accomplishments in FFA and agricultural education. They are awarded out of the 7,000 students who earn their American FFA degree.
“This is a huge accomplishment and recognition of our chapter, school and community,” said Yukon FFA advisor Dustin Beams, an agriculture education instructor for YPS.
The American Star Awards, including American Star Farmer, American Star in Agribusiness, American Star in Agricultural Placement and American Star in Agriscience, are presented to FFA members who demonstrate outstanding agricultural skills and competencies through completion of an SAE. A required activity in FFA, an SAE allows students to learn by doing, by either owning or operating an agricultural business, working or serving an internship at an agriculture-based business, or conducting an agriculture-based scientific experiment and reporting results.
Other requirements to achieve the award include demonstrating top management skills; completing key agricultural education, scholastic and leadership requirements; and earning an American FFA Degree, the organization’s highest level of student accomplishment.
Sixteen American Star Award finalists from throughout the U.S. were nominated by a panel of judges who then interviewed the finalists this fall. Four were named winners during the 93rd National FFA Convention & Expo this year, which was held virtually. Winners received cash awards. Case IH, Elanco Animal Health and Syngenta sponsor the awards.
The National FFA Organization is a school-based national youth leadership development organization of more than 760,000 student members as part of 8,700 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. For more information, visit the National FFA Organization online at FFA.org and on Facebook and Twitter.