The final session of the Illinois FFA Convention will feature the Stars Over Illinois ceremony where the Illinois Star Farmer will be announced. Several thousand members are expected to attend the three-day event. The star farmer finalists (from left) are: Ryan Noe, Metamora Chapter; Layna Bond, Galatia Chapter; Brandon Pasdertz, Seneca Chapter; Tyler Lentz, Liberty Chapter; and Brett Schewe, Mulberry Grove Chapter.
The final session of the Illinois FFA Convention will feature the Stars Over Illinois ceremony where the Illinois Star Farmer will be announced. Several thousand members are expected to attend the three-day event. The star farmer finalists (from left) are: Ryan Noe, Metamora Chapter; Layna Bond, Galatia Chapter; Brandon Pasdertz, Seneca Chapter; Tyler Lentz, Liberty Chapter; and Brett Schewe, Mulberry Grove Chapter.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Star Farmer will be announced during the 86th annual Illinois Association FFA Convention set for June 10-12 in Springfield.

Competing for the top honor are the following FFA members:

Ryan Noe

Ryan Noe started his fruit production project by raising two acres of watermelons with his brother. The District 1 Star Farmer grew three varieties of watermelons and sold them at farmers markets in Peoria and Metamora. Any surplus produce was donated to food banks and the Peoria Rescue Ministries.

The following year, the Metamora FFA member added one acre of pumpkins and 150 hills of honeydew melons to his project.

“We raised three varieties of watermelons and 12 pumpkin and gourd varieties,” said the son of Ralph and Janet Noe. “Production totaled 2,400 melons and 400 pumpkins and gourds.”

Advised by Steve Keisewetter, Noe said he learned responsibility and time management through his FFA project.

“With so much that has to be done, it was essential to manage my time in order to accomplish my goals,” he said.

The high school senior plans to attend Illinois Central College and then transfer to the University of Illinois to study engineering. Noe’s goal is to be involved with a career related to agriculture.

Brandon Pasdertz

Seneca FFA member Brandon Pasdertz works for Baudino Farms for his FFA project. This operation includes corn and soybean production, as well as an Angus and crossbred cow-calf herd and a show string of steers and heifers.

The high school senior completed a variety of tasks on the farm, including cleaning bins, fitting calves and general equipment maintenance.

“In 2013, my role of a farm manager is greater than it ever was,” the District 2 Star Farmer said. “I have taken over all the tillage work, which I make all decisions on including depth, speed and when to work ground.”

Advised by Kent Weber and Jeff Maierhofer, Pasdertz learned about leading people through his experience as an FFA member.

“Through FFA I have been given several opportunities to lead not only FFA members, but kids from our school and from other schools,” he said.

“I have been give opportunities to teach kids about agriculture locally and globally,” said the son of Joe and Danette Pasdertz.

Pasdertz plans to enroll at Joliet Junior College before transferring possibly to the University of Illinois. His career goals include working for an agricultural business such as John Deere, Monsanto or Cargill.

Tyler Lentz

The District 3 Star Farmer has a garden and a cattle herd for his FFA projects. Over the past several years, Tyler Lentz increased his cattle herd with purchases and calf births. He also has increased the variety of plants grown in his garden.

Last year, the Liberty FFA member completed an artificial insemination class.

“With the technology used to make artificial insemination possible I have been able to improve my herd without having the specific bulls on the farm,” he said.

“Having this skill will also make it possible for me to get my name out in the cattle industry by not only having show cattle, but I can also offer my services by being a certified artificial inseminator,” said Lentz, the son of Carl and Robin Lentz.

Lentz held several offices for his chapter and at the section level, and he has learned leadership skills through his FFA experiences. His adviser is Steve Buyck.

The high school senior plans to study at Black Hawk College and transfer to Western Illinois University to complete a degree in agriculture business, as well as a minor in agronomy. He plans to continue raising cattle, as well as work as a salesman for a seed company.

Brett Schewe

Brett Schewe has several projects for his supervised agricultural experience including corn, soybean and wheat production, as well as beef production. In addition, the District 4 Star Farmer planted a corn production test plot of 40 acres that compared 26 different hybrids.

The son of Mark and Amy Schewe increased his corn production research plot to 80 acres the second year, where he compared hybrids, fungicides and fertilizers.

“The opportunities that the FFA has offered me through SAEs, public speaking and being a section officer have given me speaking skills that will help me all throughout life,” the high school junior said.

“FFA has also given me leadership skills being a section officer and a chapter president has given me opportunities to lead students, as well as make a difference in my community,” said Schewe, who is advised by Matt Elam.

The Mulberry Grove FFA member plans to attend Texas A&M after high school to study ag business and ag education. His career goals include continuing his farming operation and working as an agricultural teacher.

Layna Bond

The District 5 Star Farmer raises pigs and cattle for her FFA projects.

“I started with four sows to breed for show pig litters,” Layna Bond said. “With improving our genetics constantly, we were able to be more competitive at the state-level shows.”

Last year, the Galatia FFA member exhibited the reserve grand champion Yorkshire gilt in the open show at the Illinois State Fair. She is the daughter of James and Micki Bond.

Advised by Tim Arnold, Bond learned communication skills through her FFA activities.

“Going to different leadership camps and activities has helped me to open my horizon to communicate with others,” she said. “Also to be open to others opinions about different events.”

The high school senior plans to attend Lake Land College to study animal science and also participate on the livestock judging team. Her goals include transferring to a university to complete her degree and return to the family farm to grow and improve the swine operation.