INDIANAPOLIS – From the time when he could lift and throw hay bales, Shane Mueller was working for his dad in the hay field. While in high school, the Garretson, S.D., resident bought a few sheep and began restoring some of his dad’s farm equipment. Once he had the sheep, he knew that he would have to help put feed up for them and that meant helping put up hay.
After helping his dad with haying and learning the skill set, Mueller decided to start his own custom haying business. He discovered that there was a pretty strong demand for small square bales in his area, as most custom round bale operations didn’t want to do the work of square baling.
As a result of Mueller’s entrepreneurial spirit, he has been named a 2016 finalist for the American Star in Agribusiness.
As Mueller’s business began to expand, he started advertising his services through Craigslist and soon the demand began to outpace his supply. He is now searching for more ground that he can bale so he can expand his business and continue to find other markets for the hay. As he continues to expand his business, he also has begun purchasing more equipment for his use.
The South Dakota State University student knows that keeping his equipment in good working condition is a large part of avoiding downtime. In addition, he also strives for customer satisfaction, inviting customers on custom jobs to inspect the bales as they come out of the baler to ensure they are up to the customer’s standards.
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.
Mueller is the son of Julie and Ed Mueller. He is a member of the Garretson FFA Chapter, led by advisor Ed Mueller.