INDIANAPOLIS – Production agriculture has been part of Tyler Schnaithman’s life from the beginning. He remembers starting with the simple tasks of sweeping out the barn and filling up water tanks and the excitement that followed when he was soon able to do larger jobs. He also remembers hearing from his grandpa about FFA and how he couldn’t wait for him to join. So, when he entered the eighth grade, the Garber, Okla., resident was more than ready to join the organization and explore all the opportunities that FFA and agriculture had to offer.
Today, that excitement regarding agriculture has earned him the honor of being named 2016 American Star Farmer, one of the most prestigious honors awarded to a student by the National FFA Organization.
Schnaithman began his FFA career with Suffolk and Hampshire ewes and acres of wheat. He had partial ownership in a swather that he used to put up hay. Passionate about his sheep enterprise, he did everything he could to make it as successful as possible. This allowed him to learn the importance of management, record keeping and establishing connections when it comes to marketing. These same attributes helped him with his cattle enterprise, which allowed him to diversify. Soon, he started acres of his own cropland on a cash rent basis.
He has had the opportunity to sell many of his bushels of wheat as certified seed. In addition, producing alfalfa, running heifers on wheat pastures, breeding them and selling them as bred replacements has allowed Schnaithman to establish his own prices.
Studying agricultural economics at Oklahoma State University, Schnaithman said he wants to make sure he is doing his part in helping to feed the world as a family farmer.
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.
Schnaithman is the son of Becky and Lee Schnaithman. He is a member of the Garber High School FFA Chapter, led by Joseph McGovran.