Ag students take advantage of real world experience

Published 6:28 pm Tuesday, May 25, 2021

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For those taking part in agriculture ag education through Future Farmers of America (FFA), a Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) plays an important part in developing a student’s experiences.

SAE is an intensive study that tasks students to take on a year-long project in an area of interest. While not required, there is no taking away how beneficial it can be.

Austin High School junior Riley Hetzel and senior Braden Greibrok both conducted SAEs. Greibrok’s played an important part in his winning of Minnesota FFA’s State Star in Agriscience Research last month during the Minnesota State FFA Convention.

Riley Hetzel and Braden Greibrok have both taken advantage of the opportunties made possible through SAE’s. Eric Johnson/

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His project looked at two different corn hybrids — one cheaper and another more expensive — and grew them side-by-side to see which one produced better. In this instance it was the cheaper variety.

Hetzel, on the other hand, revolved her project around raising and marketing cattle — eight cows and four heifers.

Both of them took home valuable experiences through the SAE project.

“A valuable part of ag education is allowing students to learn by doing,” said FFA co-advisor Nick Schiltz. “There are a plethora of opportunities for students to use and apply what their interests are.”

Each SAE requires a hefty time commitment as they are essentially doing the things that are done on a working farm, whether that be production or scientific work.

“It was every morning and night,” Hetzel said. “Records of everything that you do. It’s just a time commitment for everything.”

It’s something Greibrok also noted.

“Just keeping everything in line,” he said. “Keeping records on the farm and them putting them online at the website.”

Successes of each SAE can come in different ways. For Hetzel, she was able to turn a profit.

“I actually made money selling the cattle, which is a good thing,” she mused.

Greibrok noted that projects lend themselves to future success.

“It just kind of helps our farm and we know what to plant,” he said. “In the future — which is the more profitable hybrid.”

SAEs are part of a three-pronged educational process that includes classroom experience and career and leadership development events.

Students who complete SAEs will then have the opportunity to compete in state, regional and national contests for even more experience.

And with that experience comes a sense of pride.

“We’re proud of students taking initiative and wanting to do it,” Schiltz said. “We’re proud they pursue this opportunity and learn from it.”