MINNEAPOLIS–(April 23, 2018) The Minnesota FFA Association has named Natalie Barka as the 2018 Minnesota FFA Star in Production Placement. Barka, a Litchfield FFA member, received one of the association’s highest honors at the annual awards ceremony held Monday, April 23.
“My passion for the dairy industry ignited in the fall of 2012 by feeding 30 calves on my family’s dairy farm,” Barka said. “The 30 calves I started with has grown to an average of 75 calves.”
As part of Barka’s supervised agricultural experience (SAE), she has executed two feed trials, examining growth rates and trends. These trials have opened doors to many opportunities on her farm, she said.
“Through improved protocol and techniques, the calf mortality rate has decreased to 3 percent today,” she said.
Outside of the farm, Barka said she enjoys showing dairy heifers and steers for 4-H, serves as the Meeker County dairy princess and has held FFA officer positions. She plans to attend the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities to earn a bachelor’s degree in biosystems and bioproducts engineering.
Following experience in the dairy processing industry, Barka said her long-term goal is to own and operate a farm-to-table creamery in conjunction with her family’s dairy farm.
In a supervised agricultural experience (SAE) program, students apply what they are learning in the classroom. A student designs a program to gain hands-on experience and develop skills in agricultural career areas which interest them. Students are supervised by agricultural education teachers in cooperation with parents, employers and other adults who assist them in the development and achievement of their educational and career goals. The Litchfield FFA chapter is led by agricultural education teacher and advisor Rob Cole.
Each year, 16 state finalists—four in each category—vie for the association’s top awards: Star Farmer, Star in Agribusiness, Star in Production Placement and Star in Agriscience. These awards honor students who have developed outstanding agricultural skills through their SAE and earned the state degree. The 2018 FFA Stars over Minnesota recognition program is sponsored by Compeer Financial Services as a special project of the Minnesota FFA Foundation.
Visit mnffa.org for more details about the 89th Minnesota FFA convention. Follow along on social media by liking the Minnesota FFA Association and Foundation. Watch the general sessions on youtube.com/minnesotaffa.