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FFA leaders make future brighter

Slideshow: The 2021-22 Indiana FFA state officer team has big hopes and dreams for their futures.

UPDATED: This is a new photo of the officer team following the resignation of one of the officers in November. Changes also were made to the story to reflect this.

Joe Martin has a reason to smile every morning. He will likely spend part of the day working with seven talented young leaders. Martin is the state program specialist with Indiana FFA who works with the Indiana FFA state officers.

“It’s great to be able to do things again and let these young leaders go do what they do best,” Martin explains. “We’re still making adjustments due to COVID, but this team is able to travel and interact, and they’ve already proven that they can inspire other young FFA members.”

The officer team attended the 2021 Farm Progress Show. Even though Titan Tire didn’t hold its annual tire auction in support of FFA due to a shortage of tires, the company helped FFA in other ways.

“We earned a dollar from Titan for every picture we took on someone’s phone of them standing by the Big Bud tractor,” says Kourtney Otte, state FFA president. “It didn’t take us long to figure out people need more than one picture of themselves with such a neat tractor. We snapped 2,000 pictures in one day.”

Martin says that resourcefulness is just a glimpse of how these seven young people work together. Here is a closer look:

Leading the way

Kourtney Otte, state president, believes there is a disconnect between today’s younger generations and public policy, and vice versa. She wants to close that gap when she gets the opportunity by becoming a lawyer and working in the ag policy arena.

Otte got her start in FFA in eighth grade as the creed speaker for her chapter, and later participated in public speaking. Her parents are Angie Mousa and William Mousa, and her advisors at Seymour High School were Gina Epley, Micah Dillman, Sheridan Elswick and Mikayla Applegate.

Otte plans to attend Purdue University, take prelaw courses, and later attend law school.

Improving dairy foods

Nicholas Neuman, state secretary, worked with Doug Wicker, Milroy, Ind., for his Supervised Agricultural Experience project. Wicker raises and freshens dairy heifers, and then sells them to larger dairies. The experience inspired Neuman, active in the livestock skillathon, dairy judging and other activities for Rushville FFA, to attend Purdue and study food science and animal science.

“I hope to someday work in genetic modification of dairy products,” Neuman says.

His parents are Mark and Michelle Neuman. His FFA advisors were Blair Orme and Holly Wagner.

Talking on the fly

Tyler Kilmer, the Northern Region vice president, talked his way into winning the state impromptu speaking contest in 2021 and competed in the national event. Yet this talkative farm boy from Jasper County also likes mechanical things and will attend Purdue to major in ag systems management. His goal is to work for an ag tech company before someday returning as the sixth generation on the family farm.

Kilmer’s parents are Jason and Patty Kilmer. His FFA advisors at Tri-County High School are Travis Scherer and Haley Verhaeghe. His sister, Emily, was a state FFA officer in 2017-18.

Born to teach and lead

Abby Stuckwisch, the Southern Region vice president, enjoyed varied experiences growing up on her diversified family farm in Jackson County. The farm includes everything from beef cattle to traditional row crops to popcorn and selling firewood. That experience helped her round out her FFA career and develop an interest in becoming an agriculture teacher. That’s still her goal, but her FFA leadership experiences have her also considering becoming a leader with an ag company.

Stuckwisch’s parents are Ed and Sara Stuckwisch, and her FFA advisor at Brownstown Central was Blake Hackman.

All things cattle

Beef production runs deep in Jordyn Wickard’s family, and she hopes to continue the tradition. The state treasurer grew up in Hancock County on a family farm that was homesteaded in 1846. McClarnon Stock Farms and now Wickard Stock Farms have a rich history.

Wickard has been active in so many state and national associations related to livestock, they’re too numerous to mention. She participated in a variety of FFA contests at Eastern Hancock FFA, including creed speaking, dairy judging and the chapter meeting contest.

Her parents are Chris and Julia Wickard. Her FFA advisors are Sarah Williams and Diana Aerellano. Wickard will attend Purdue University.

Follow her own path

Madisen Carns, state sentinel, doesn’t have an ag background. In fact, she didn’t join FFA until a friend invited her during her sophomore year. She found FFA welcoming, became immersed in agriculture, and was soon changing her career plans. She excelled at meats judging at Mount Vernon in the Fortville FFA.

Carns intends to enroll in Purdue in animal science and would like to pursue a career in regulatory animal health issues. Her parents are Doug and Lynn Carns, and her advisor was Lucinda Blair.

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