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Davis wins national award at FFA convention
Nov. 5, 2012

Parliamentary Procedure team earns silver rating

By Kristen Miller
News Editor

All the years of record-keeping paid off for Dassel-Cokato FFA member Austin Davis who returned from the 85th National FFA Convention as the national winner of the Dairy Production -Placement Award.

“It’s a true testament to the amount of work he has put into his SAE (supervised agricultural experience) over the years,” said DC FFA Advisor Eric Sawatzke of Davis. “It’s also a nice capstone for the Davis family, who have had four brothers go through the program with Austin being the first to win National Proficiency.” Brothers Darin was a finalist and Kevin was a gold award winner.

The National FFA Organization’s Agricultural Proficiency Awards program recognizes outstanding student achievement in agribusiness gained through establishment of a new business, working for an existing company or otherwise gaining hands-on career experience.

It serves as the award structure for an FFA member’s Supervised Agricultural Experience (mandatory for all FFA members) that is designed to develop specialized skills in 49 categories that they can apply toward their future careers.

Austin, a freshman at the University of Minnesota, began keeping records six years ago on his family’s sixth-generation dairy farm in rural Cokato.

Davis is the son of Loring and Carol Davis and has been a member of FFA since the fall of his seventh-grade year.

Such records included financial records, skills obtained on the farm, and tracking goals he set for himself. One of these goals included increasing the survival rate for the farm’s milk-fed calves, eventually reaching a 96 percent survival rate.

To do this took close monitoring of the animals’ overall health, working with a great deal of cleanliness, and providing fresh bedding, Davis explained.

Davis became eligible for the national award after winning the state FFA competition earlier this year where he won $500 and the chance to compete at nationals.

For winning in Indianapolis, Davis also received $500.

In addition to the monetary reward, Davis applied for a chance to win a trip to Costa Rica to study his agricultural practices next summer. Since he was the only one to apply from his proficiency area, he automatically gets to go , Davis explained.

“I had a pretty successful week,” Davis commented.

When he found out he won he won at nationals, Davis was excited and overwhelmed, he said.

“It had been a goal of mine since my freshman or sophomore year of high school and it’s a great reward for all the hard work I’ve put in over the years,” Davis said.

Davis has three older brothers who have all encouraged and supported him along the way.

In addition to his supervised agricultural experience, Davis’ FFA career has consisted of chapter officer for four years in high school, parliamentary procedure participant, and dairy cattle evaluations.

Now, Davis will work on applying for his FFA American Degree and pursuing a degree in agronomy because he feels that’s how he can best serve the family farm.

Parliamentary team places

“This was Dassel-Cokato’s third trip to Nationals in five years and we keep getting a little better each time,” Sawatzke said.

The parliamentary procedure team earned a silver rating, which is the best the school has had thus far, according to Sawatzke. The team included Ashley Burkhardt, Mercedes Lemke, Korra-Shay Richards, Michaela Gallup, Linsey Strolberg, and Emma Jorgenson.

In addition to the silver rating, four of the girls – Michaela Gallup, Emma Jorgenson, Ashley Burkhardt, and Mercedes Lemke – are now accredited parliamentarians and can use that certification as judges in future competitions or as parliamentarians for civic organizations such as school board, township boards, or county commissioners.

Only 119 kids in the nation are accredited this year with a passing score of 80 percent on a 150-point test, Sawatzke explained. Jorgenson and Burkhardt tied for 11th place in the nation with a score of 141 out of 150.

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