Four OHS FFA Members Receive State Degrees


Ava Wolfe, Writer

FFA is an organization invested in agriculture and leadership. Four individuals represented and received outstanding awards for their accomplishments for Owatonna’s FFA state level earning state degrees. FFA Adviser Jamie Gray spoke highly of these four individuals Jace Katzung, Evan Melby, Anna Fox, and Natalie Matejcek. 

In order for these individuals to receive these state degrees they had to have a SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience) project. An SAE in simple terms is a FFA member’s personal agriculture experience where the member works in an Ag related career of their choosing. As an Agriculture student, not only would taking classes be a necessity but having to do other things outside of the classroom is needed as well. The next part is being a part of the FFA chapter and the last piece is having an SAE project like having a job outside of being in FFA. Ms. Gray said, “These kids have been working on these projects for almost six to seven years, they put a lot of time and effort into it to get to this level and get the award.” 

All of these students had to have jobs or businesses that they run and earn a certain dollar amount or invest a certain amount into their SAE projects in order to be awarded a state FFA degree. Ms. Gray stated, “For their SAE records they had to have $2,000 or more invested in their SAE and they had to go to ten or more leadership events above the chapter, so that would be regionals, state, or national and they were interviewed by local Ag teachers to make sure they qualified for that award.”

Evan Melby explained in order to earn this degree you must be an FFA member for at least two years and must have taken at least 360 hours (4 quarters) of an Ag class along with the money invested in their SAE project or have invested 600 hours outside of school, show active leadership in multiple ways, must have a satisfactory scholastic ways, have twenty- five hours of community service, and again ten FFA events outside of the FFA chapter. Jace Katzung explained that FFA has five degrees of involvement within the organization, these are Discovery degree given to seventh and eighth grade, Greenhand degree which is given to ninth grade or first-year members, Chapter degree given to tenth grade and up, State degree awarded to juniors and seniors which is the highest award, and American degree given out to college students. These degrees of course are given out to those who have strong effort, organization, and commitment to FFA. 

Being a part of FFA is a big commitment and has great outcomes when you achieve those higher goals. Ms. Gray said, “ Every student has an SAE project, but they vary greatly. If you don’t have a job outside of school, your SAE might just be the projects we do in class on research or something along those lines but these students went above and beyond.”

Katzung’s, a senior at OHS, SAE project included three jobs, first, he works at Northland Farm Systems, he works for his grandpa on the family farm, and he as well raises beef steers. Katzung stated, “Having now earned my Minnesota State FFA degree I hope to work towards my American degree while I’m at college in River Falls. Receiving my state degree means a lot to me. I have earned and invested over 20,000 dollars in my time in FFA and have spent over 4,000 hours in my SAE’s during the last four years and this is the honor I received for it.” 

Katzung plans on being an Agriscience teacher and FFA adviser after college. He hopes to use his experience to further his ability to teach the next generation of youth about the world of agriculture. Melby, also a senior at OHS, has one main SAE project which is he raises and sells poultry. Melby said, “You must dedicate your time and effort into your chapter.” Natalie Matejcek, a senior, has a few SAE projects which include working on a local dairy farm and works with her grandpa on their elk farm. Junior Anna Fox received her state degree based on a job she had at a local vet clinic and working on an organic dairy farm. Ms. Gray said, “FFA is 100% what you put in you get out, so individually the state FFA degree is the highest degree that you can achieve while you are in high school.” 

FFA will be hosting Ag Day on Friday, May 20 for area elementary schools.