At the Wisconsin FFA Convention in June, Amelia Hayden of Sharon took home one of the top honors bestowed on an FFA member as the state Star in Agriscience. She was also elected to serve on the state FFA officer team. Hayden was first runner-up in the state FFA prepared speaking contest, as well. She is a bright example of the students enrolled in agricultural education programs throughout Wisconsin.
Through FFA and ag education, students are encouraged to start a Supervised Agricultural Experience program to explore their interests in agriculture. Top SAE programs are recognized at the state FFA convention each year, including the Star awards in the areas of Agriscience, Agribusiness, Agricultural Placement and Star Farmer. Hayden was recognized as this year’s Star in Agriscience for her efforts in several research projects throughout her four years in FFA.
Hayden began her SAE program in agricultural research because she wanted to find solutions to issues in agriscience and improve her research skills. She graduated from Big Foot High School in Walworth, where her FFA advisors were Lisa Konkel and Zachary Markhardt.
“Through my SAE, I researched the effects of cinnamon as a nutritional supplement,” Hayden says. “I wanted to find a dietary supplement which would lower glucose levels in animals. I added a nutritional supplement of a compound found in cinnamon bark to cell cultures in order to observe its impact on cell growth. Furthermore, I wanted to determine if cinnamon blocked absorption of other critical nutrients, which would deter cell growth. I found that the compound actually enhanced the growth of cells in my cultures.”
Most recently, Hayden conducted research into the effectiveness of preventing peanut allergies through a change in the production method.
“The four years I spent working and learning through my SAE were what made the Star in Agriscience award an honor to me,” Hayden says. “I developed my projects because I enjoyed doing the research and growing my skills. Receiving this honor showed me that putting in the effort over time can create skills and knowledge that I never imagined having.”
EXPERIMENTS: Amelia Hayden’s latest research project included finding ways to prevent peanut allergies through changes in production methods.
Prior to the end of the state convention, Hayden was elected as a state FFA officer and will serve on a team of 11 officers representing about 20,000 Wisconsin FFA members.
“I decided to pursue being a state officer because I enjoyed working with FFA members in my chapter, and I wanted to continue serving FFA members in my section,” Hayden explains. “I’m excited to grow my leadership skills over the next year and help other FFA members realize their potential as young leaders and expand their involvement in FFA. I’m most looking forward to chapter visits, where I can meet with members and make personal connections. As a state officer, I believe service to FFA members is one of the most important parts of the role.”
Hayden joined FFA after taking an animal science course in high school.
“As I got more involved in the organization, I found a place for myself in the agriculture department and among my fellow FFA members,” she says. “I think it would be difficult to be involved in FFA and not be positively impacted because of the way the program sets you up for success. From my SAE program to speaking contests, I’ve gained skills that have prepared me for the future.”
STATE FFA OFFICER: Amelia Hayden was elected to the 2017-18 Wisconsin FFA officer team as a vice president.
At the age of 16, Hayden is one of the youngest students ever to receive both a Star award and a spot on the state FFA officer team.
“I was fortunate enough to skip two grades in elementary school, which led to me starting high school at a younger age than normal,” she explains.
After her year of service as a state FFA officer, Hayden plans to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison to major in microbiology and pursue a career that combines research and public outreach.
Giebel lives in Baraboo.