SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Finalists for the Star in Agribusiness honor will be introduced during the Illinois FFA State Convention, June 11-13.

The top five members in the state include the following students:

FFA members operate variety of businesses

Codee McClure offers dog and cat boarding and in-home pet care through her Leash & Halter business. Since starting her business in 2017, the FFA member has increased her client base to over 50 people.

Codee McClure

Chapter: Roanoke-Benson

FFA Adviser: Scott Nordstrom

Parents: Jeff and Marilyn McClure

SAE Project: Codee McClure owns Leash & Halter, which offers dog and cat boarding, in-home pet care and farm chores. She also breeds and sells purebred Labrador dogs.

The District 1 Star in Agribusiness has increased her business to include a client base of over 50 people since starting in 2017. Her experiences have taught her how to turn a passion into a successful business enterprise.

FFA members operate variety of businesses

FFA member Joey Thomas plants a tree for his business, Canopy Joe. For every tree that he sells, Thomas donates a tree to a national forest.

Joey Thomas

Chapter: Seneca

FFA Advisers: Kent Weber and Jeff Maierhofer

Parents: Jamie and Becky Thomas

SAE Project: The District 2 Star in Agribusiness operates his business through a website that he designed. Named Canopy Joe, the business sells potted trees that the FFA member purchases from Oregon.

The Seneca FFA member donates a tree that is planted in a National Forest for every tree that he sells. As a result, Thomas has sold over 200 trees.

FFA members operate variety of businesses

Levi Welsh checks his mower before he starts cutting a lawn for his business that includes customers located in three communities.

Levi Welsh

Chapter: Lincolnwood

FFA Adviser: Monty Elvidge

Parents: Jeremy and Mary Jo Welsh

SAE Project: For his FFA project, Levi Welsh operates a mowing business where he provides services for three communities. Welsh has worked over 850 hours to mow lawns for customers.

The District 3 Star in Agribusiness plans to attend Western Illinois University, and he said his FFA project has taught him accounting, customer service and mechanical skills.

FFA members operate variety of businesses

Braylee Finck places flowers in an arrangement that she prepares for various events including weddings, funerals, proms and homecoming.

Braylee Finck

Chapter: Maroa-Forsyth

FFA Advisers: Cassie Crouch and Beth Ruwe

Parents: Nicholas and Selina Finck

SAE Project: In 2015, Braylee Finck started her floral business, Petals and Blooms. The Maroa-Forsyth FFA member has learned how to use different colors, shapes and sizes of flowers to design unique arrangements for various events.

Finck designs flower arrangements for weddings and funerals, as well as high school events such as prom and homecoming.

FFA members operate variety of businesses

Making sure his mower has adequate oil is an important step for Joey Allison before he mows one of 17 lawns that he cares for weekly.

Joey Allison

Chapter: Cisne

FFA Advisers: Jennifer Timm and Todd Burroughs

Parents: Harlan Allison and Tia and Bobby Witter

SAE Project: The District 5 Star in Agribusiness owns and operates Allison Mowing. Joey Allison maintains 17 lawns on a weekly basis.

The Cisne FFA member started his lawn mowing business when he was 9 years old with his brother, Zack. The money he has earned from his business has allowed him to pay for his associate’s degree while in high school.

Martha Blum can be reached at 815-223-2558, ext. 117, or marthablum@agrinews-pubs.com. Follow her on Twitter at: @AgNews_Blum.

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