COLUMBIA, Mo. — For Dakota Pemberton, agriculture is a way of life, and ag education has helped prepare him for a farming career. Pemberton, from Richland, Missouri, currently serves as a state FFA vice-president and attends the University of Missouri in Columbia.
After school, he wants to return to the family farm and help run the beef cattle operation.
“I grew up on a beef cattle farm, a family farm,” Pemberton says. “It’s my roots, it’s what I know.”
He is majoring in animal science at MU, with a minor in political science. In addition to helping him prepare for his career path, Pemberton says the school’s research farms help him learn about a variety of types of agriculture, representative of Missouri’s diverse agricultural landscape.
“It’s amazing to go to research farms at MU and learn about other industries,” Pemberton says.
He also had variety in his supervised agricultural experience (SAE) in FFA, combining forage production, beef cattle entrepreneurship and a trucking service company. The forage production involved a rotation of rye and corn.
Earning a spot on the state officer team was the culmination of a long effort, with the usual officer selection process interrupted by the coronavirus outbreak last spring.
“When I found out I was a state officer, we’d been going at it for a couple of months getting to that point,” Pemberton says.
He found out in a Zoom presentation, and Pemberton says it was a memorable moment and the payoff for a lot of hard work and dreaming.
“It was a mixture of relief and excitement, and it kind of left me speechless,” he says. “It’d been a goal of mine since I was little.”
Pemberton remembers the officer team going right to work on an introductory video immediately after finding out they were state officers.
“We had to hit the ground with our legs running,” he says.
While there have been challenges to being a state officer in a COVID-affected year, Pemberton says he takes a more optimistic view, that the disruptions gave the officer team the opportunity to get creative with how they fulfilled their duties.
“We’ve had to think outside the box,” he says. “We’ve had to be creative. We were able to put together a year like people had never seen.”
As Pemberton’s year as a state officer draws closer to the end, he says the people he met and worked with have been the best part of his FFA experience.
“The best memories I think come from meeting everyone,” he says.
The learning continues as Pemberton attends his college classes, learning about the best management practices and the latest technology to help agriculture continue to advance. He says he likes being a part of that progress and the industry’s history of improvement.
“In the past couple of years, we’ve made great strides in technology and different kinds of agriculture than what my grandpa did when he was starting out,” Pemberton says. “I like seeing the progress we make to continue to improve and feed people.”