SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — During the Stars Over Illinois ceremony,
four finalists for the Star Agriscience award will be introduced to those
attending the Illinois Association FFA Convention.
The following FFA members have been selected as finalists
after an extensive process of evaluating the students and their record books.
District 2 Star in Agriscience Jazmine Jefferson chose
agricultural mechanics for her first supervised agricultural experience project.
“I expected to be learning how to operate agricultural
machinery, but I spent much of my time out in our school’s field,” the Chicago
Ag Science FFA Chapter member said.
Advised by Sheila Fowler, Jefferson has been involved with
processing work in the school’s food science lab. During an internship with
PepsiCo Research and Development Center, the high school senior learned a lot
about the food development process.
“With this experience, I learned that I wanted to be a food
product developer,” said the daughter of Maurice Jefferson and Sherita
“Being that PepsiCo was my first-ever job interview, I
learned how to have an effective job interview,” she said. “An effective job
interview includes a brief explanation of your background, thoughtful answers,
researched answers about company for which you are applying for and a great
strategy to market yourself.”
Jefferson plans to attend Florida A&M University, and
her career goals include becoming a food product developer.
For her first FFA project, the District 3 Star in
Agriscience worked with eggs in an incubator.
“I placed 120 eggs in an upright incubator and tested which
shelf had the greatest success,” Caseelynn Johnston said.
The A-C Central FFA member also completed an experiment on
four different groups of six chickens to test which brand of chicken starter
feed would yield the highest weight gain. She continued to study chickens with
her third project.
“I decided to test the effects of Trans-Resveratrol on three
different groups of 10 chickens to decipher its effect on weight and behavior,”
said Johnston, who is advised by Jennifer Smith.
“The most important skill that my SAE has taught me is
persistence,” the high school senior said. “Regardless of the path I choose to
take in life, persistence is an extremely important talent to possess.”
This fall, Johnston will study at Lincoln Land Community
College, and she plans to be involved with the livestock judging team. Her goals
include transferring to the University of Illinois to complete a degree in
agricultural communications with a focus on advertising.
The daughter of Kerry Johnson and Cindy Cagwin-Johnston
would like to work for a livestock publication.
Brandon Butcher raises Berkshire hogs for breeding stock,
show pigs and market hogs. The majority of his sales are at state and national
“Last year, I farrowed 24 litters and produced 254 head,”
the District 4 Star in Agriscience said. “I plan to continue to increase my SAE
by adding sows to my herd and increasing my pig quality.”
Currently, Butcher’s herd includes 15 sows. His goals also
include attending more shows this year throughout the state.
“I also hope to increase my skill level by participating in
more judging contests and swine skillathons,” said the son of Shane and Shelly
The FFA member has worked on numerous community service
projects. He has served as the greenhand president, junior president and chapter
president for the Taylorville FFA Chapter, as well as the Section 16 vice
His advisers are Sue Schafer, Monte Elvidge and Stephanie
“I plan to attend the University of Illinois and major in
animal science with a minor in ag business,” the high school senior said. “I
plan to stay involved in the Berkshire swine industry and raising
Freeburg FFA member Gregory Erwin completed several
agriscience projects including research that focused on peach bud development.
“I learned the difference in live and dead peach buds and
how they vary by variety of peach,” the high school senior said.
Advised by Tom Range, Erwin studied the difference in
production of tomato varieties. The star finalist also evaluated the
effectiveness of different repellents towards deer after being applied to apple
“Throughout my SAE, I have learned that the area of
agriscience is very important to the field of agriculture,” Erwin noted. “Not
only can agriscience help with new breakthroughs, but it can also help us to
increase accuracy and production in other aspects of life.”
Erwin plans to enroll at Southwestern Illinois College in
the fall and then transfer to Southern Illinois University to complete a degree
in agricultural education.
“I will be working in the field of agricultural education on
the high school level,” said the son of Patrick and Laura Erwin.