INDIANAPOLIS – Brett Petersen has dreamed of farming ever since he was young. In fact, at the end of his sixth-grade year, the Murdock, Minn., resident was offered a job at Petersen Farms Inc., a diversified crop farm in west central Minnesota, where he swept the floors and put away tools.
As he grew older, he gained the trust of his boss and others around him. Soon, more responsibilities were shared with him. A family farm incorporated in the 1970s, Petersen Farms Inc. runs 6,200 acres, which includes sugar beets, field corn, sweet corn, peas, alfalfa and soybeans.
Today, his dedication to agriculture has resulted in him being named the 2016 American Star in Agricultural Placement, one of the most prestigious honors awarded to a student by the National FFA Organization.
During high school, Petersen continued working at PFI and learned more and more about the business. In his ninth- and 10th-grade year, he learned about preventative maintenance as well as how to repair equipment when it breaks down. In addition, he also became the primary operator of the sugar beet conveyor. By his junior and senior years in high school, he began doing all jobs associated with production of sugar beets and also invested in his own shares of sugar beets.
Upon graduation, Petersen enrolled in Ridgewater Community and Technical College for farm operations management. Petersen then had an opportunity to buy into a partnership that would eventually assume ownership of PFI. Petersen plans for his role in the partnership to be that of a sugar beet specialist. He also intends to return to Ridgewater this winter to study agribusiness.
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.
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 a supervised agricultural experience. A required activity in FFA, an SAE allows students to learn by doing, either by 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.
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. are nominated by a panel of judges who then interview the finalists during the national convention and expo. Four are named winners and receive cash awards totaling $4,000. All American Star finalists receive a $2,000 cash award. The American Star Awards are sponsored by ADM Crop Risk Services, Case IH, Elanco Animal Health, Farm Credit and Syngenta as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.
Petersen is the son of Paula and Kyle Petersen. He is a member of Kerkhoven Murdock Sunburg-KMS FFA Chapter, led by advisor Christa Williamson.