2018 Ag Champions Winners Announced

April 24, 2018 GMT

LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Corn Board, in partnership with Nebraska FFA, recognized three high school students as Ag Champions at the 2018 State FFA Convention in Lincoln. The Ag Champions program is designed to encourage and develop future advocates for the agricultural industry.

The contest was open to all Nebraska FFA students. Students were asked to develop a website or blog to release educational, positive messages about Nebraska agriculture. Students were encouraged to incorporate a variety of text, photos, videos and social media content into their projects to enhance their entries. Participants discussed a wide variety of topics, such as current agricultural issues, family farming and modern production practices.

This year’s Ag Champions award winners are:

Kylie Gana, junior at Norris High School

Tayte Jussel, senior at O’Neill Public High School

Justin Mensik, senior at North Bend Central High School

“I participated in the Ag Champions Program because I really wanted to help advocate or ‘agvocate’ for the agriculture industry, because it does so much by providing the fuel, food and fiber that our nation thrives on,” said Tayte Jussel, a senior FFA member at O’Neill Public High School.

Through the Ag Champions program, students must think strategically to determine how to best craft their messages to ensure they resonate with their target audiences. FFA members are encouraged to utilize online media tools to reach consumers in urban areas.

“Social media is a huge tool for us because it’s just so easy to reach so many people,” said Justin Mensik, a senior FFA member at North Bend Central High School. “With social media, with just a click of a button, we can reach literally thousands of people.”

By reaching a vast online audience, the 2018 Ag Champions have a unique opportunity to connect farmers with consumers to help explain modern sustainable agricultural practices and dispel myths and misconceptions. Through education, students hope to prove the safety of the U.S. food production system, which helps meet rising consumer demand.

“It’s important for consumers to understand agriculture because in a couple years, we have to feed over nine billion people,” said Kylie Gana, a junior FFA member at Norris High School. “We need to have people educated on what to do and how we need to get there.”

The three winners each receive $500 scholarships to be used to further their agricultural advocacy efforts. This is the fourth time the Nebraska Corn Board partnered with Nebraska FFA to host the Ag Champions program. The 2018 Nebraska State FFA Convention was held April 4-6 in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The Nebraska Corn Board is funded through a producer checkoff investment of ½-cent-per-bushel checkoff on all corn marketed in the state and is managed by nine farmer directors. The mission of the Nebraska Corn Board is to promote the value of corn by creating opportunities.