To qualify for the grant funded by the national FFA, the student’s FFA membership must be current, the applicant must be in grades 7-12 and he or she must demonstrate financial need. The application selection process is highly competitive, with far more applicants than grant recipients. To meet the requirements of an SAE, the project must be agricultural and must fit in at least one Agriculture Food and Natural Resources (AFNR) Pathway: agribusiness systems, animal systems, environmental service/natural resources systems, food products and processing systems, plant systems and power, structural and technical systems.
Freshman Dustin Turner received $500 to purchase a steer. He plans to buy the steer then sell it next fall at the Henry County Youth Livestock Auction. He’ll then purchase a heifer with his earnings. Junior Avery Stivers already has a woodworking business and received $339 to purchase an engraver to expand his business, Stivers Woodworks.
“I want to show the market steer, then sell him to grow my own herd in the future,” Turner said. “I intend to use the grant money to buy feed for my steer because the heavier he is, the more money he will bring which means the more money I can put back to start a herd. I will not only gain the money but I will learn how to handle money and learn how to do business with other people that will come handy later in life.”
Turner’s cousin Sarah Mobley received a livestock grant when she was a sophomore ag student at HCHS to expand her cattle herd. She is now studying nursing and continues to show cattle and grow her herd.
“Dustin saw Sarah’s success over her FFA/SAE career and jumped right in with a great idea to purchase a steer, show it, sell it at the livestock auction, and make enough money to buy a heifer,” Davie said. “I love his plan and his willingness to jump in.”
Stivers said with his grant he wanted to expand his business by purchasing new tools that will allow him to offer additional products.
“I intend to purchase a laser cutter which will allow basic laser enraging on a variety of wood products,” Stivers said. “The SAE process also provides valuable lessons in budgeting and application writing as well as making informed decisions.”
Davie said that Stivers plays four sports and is a stellar student and could easily use the excuse of being too busy when it comes to successfully completing his SAE – but not Avery.
“He manages his time so well and has really done great things with his SAE. His dad has been a great teacher and helps Avery market things through their Facebook page,” Davie said. “He also did very well with his project exhibiting it at the state fair in 2019.”
Davie said that several of her students have earned SAE grants over the past several years and have applied the lessons taught through FFA in various ways.
“Morgan Bohannon was a past winner who established a candle making business. She was also the state winner for ag sales and was the state agri-entrepreneur. She is double majoring in accounting and psychology. Sophia Smith received a grant from the Davis family to start her SAE creating a feed for senior equine horses, and then received money from the Shark Tank grant to further expand her feed marketing. She is now studying chemistry at Georgetown,” Davie said. “Austin Craigmyle received a grant to start a beehive. He is now studying aquaculture at Kentucky State University.”
Not all students choose a purely agricultural career, but most will always retain the lessons learned and remember the experiential activities of FFA. And both of this year’s SAE grant winners have ambitious plans for their futures and point to Mrs. Davie as being instrumental in helping them achieve those goals.
“FFA has taught me to be more confident and explore many different fields related to engineering,” said Stivers, who plans to become an engineer. “Mrs. Davie has offered guidance and wisdom while encouraging us to take our projects to the next level.”
“My future plans are to raise my own herd and buy and sell cattle,” Turner said. “FFA has helped and will continue to help by teaching me all the aspects from the cattle themselves, to the business and the economic side of things. Mrs. Davie has helped me with everything!”