Meeker FFA members earn grants

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Derek Nielsen with members of the Hummel Family Foundation.
Jilly Bumguardner with a member of the Singleton Family Foundation.

MEEKER | The Meeker FFA Chapter would like to recognize Derek Nielsen and Jilly Bumguardner on receiving a total of $1,750 in Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE) grants from the Colorado FFA Foundation. On Jan. 22, the Meeker FFA Chapter set off to the other side of the mountain to attend the National Western Stock Show in Denver. The annual trip had a little more excitement in comparison to past experiences because two senior officers were accepting grants to further develop their SAEs.

Agricultural education programs across the United States are made up of three integrated parts: classroom instruction, FFA and a supervised agricultural experience (SAE). The SAE is a required component of a complete education program and each student enrolled in ag education must have one. Through SAEs, students develop an understanding for multiple careers and occupations as well as learning workplace behaviors, skills and knowledge. Through these experiences, students are able to apply the information gained in the classroom to prepare to transition into the world of career and college opportunities.

The Colorado FFA Foundation is an organization of board members who seek financial, human and in-kind support for agricultural education in Colorado. The Foundation has been around since 1983 and within the past five years, they have raised and invested more than $1.1 million towards Colorado Team Ag Education. This year, the Foundation received 180 applications from students across Colorado for SAE development grants. From these 180 applicants, only 70 students were selected to receive their money requests; the total amount of grants provided this year from the Colorado FFA Foundation added up to $105,000. It is a privilege and blessing to be able to say that our only two applicants from Meeker received the entirety of their financial requests.

Since freshman year, Nielsen and Bumguardner have been planning on developing their dream SAEs and because of their hard work and diligence, those dreams are becoming a reality.

Nielsen is planning on expanding his current equine SAE with the purchase of a draft horse this April. He has helped his cousin, Kaysyn Chintala, with draft teams and carriages multiple times and aspires to have his own business in agritourism. He hopes that after working with his new horse he will be able to provide shuttle rides for the Meeker Classic Sheepdog Trials as well as participating in parades for the Fourth of July and Homecoming. Nielsen’s future career plan is to breed and raise Percherons and Belgians to ride and drive. He hopes to become a draft horse trainer who can eventually sell drafts at events like the Harley D. Troyer Colorado Draft Horse and Equipment Auction held in Brighton, Colo., every spring. He has always aspired to be his own boss and has a deep and strong passion for draft horses and wants them to be a part of his future, so that his kids may have this lifestyle.

Bumguardner has shown small animals, including poultry and rabbits, for a majority of her agricultural  career. She is investing in setting up a school poultry operation that will provide farm fresh eggs to our school and the community. She hopes to see this SAE become a school-based enterprise for future FFA members in her chapter. Bumguardner wants to make it easier for the community to learn about poultry and the general care and well-being of livestock. If there is an easily accessible poultry pen in the area, people will want to make more of an effort to learn about the well-being of the animals that feed us. She would like to provide the community with easy and year-round access to fresh eggs. Many people are willing to work hard for fresher options than grocery stores allow, but there are very limited options for people to choose from, having a year-round option for the community through the FFA with build a stronger bond between FFA and the community. She aspires to be a livestock feed nutritionist and hopes that she can gain more knowledge about developing and managing feed processes.

If you are interested in keeping up with the stories of our two grant recipients, follow our Meeker FFA Chapter Facebook page for updates of their journeys.

By DENEE CHINTALA | Special to the Herald Times