Oklahoma Resident Named 2020 Star in Agricultural Placement

INDIANAPOLIS (Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020/National FFA Organization) – Working with animals is second nature for Will Shelby of Madill FFA in Oklahoma. Raised by a veterinarian, Shelby experienced his future career early on, starting his placement supervised agricultural experience (SAE) as a veterinary assistant in his father’s large-animal practice.

“Growing up around it, I kind of had an idea as to what I wanted to do,” Shelby said. “The older I got, the more I realized that maybe there’s a lot of different routes you could go in veterinary medicine that I wasn’t even aware of when I was younger. … I really began an interest in the reproductive side of things, especially in the bovine animal.”

Then, Shelby went on to work as a veterinary assistant at a practice in Cushing, Okla., last year.

“Vaccinations for dogs and cats, general exams and then even surgeries and things like that, I would assist on,” he said. “The veterinarian there also did some reproductive work for cattle, such as embryo transfer and AI [artificial insemination], so I got to be a part of that as well.”

While his father’s career helped Shelby figure out his future, he said FFA helped him develop character, leadership skills and a strong work ethic.

“That’s something that I’m really thankful FFA taught me — I’m not sure I would be a strong-willed guy if I wasn’t at FFA,” Shelby said.

In his final year at Oklahoma State University, Shelby is preparing to attend veterinary school to practice large animal veterinary medicine in rural Oklahoma.

“There’s such a large demand for large animal veterinarians, especially in rural areas,” Shelby said. “Cattle, especially in Oklahoma, are such a big commodity to our agriculture industry.”

For FFA members starting a placement SAE, Shelby recommends giving different agriculture areas a chance to find where your passion lies.

“Once you do that, buy into it and give it everything you have, because if you’re willing to do that, I can truthfully tell you this program, your SAE, you will get more from it than you ever could have imagined,” he said.

About the American Star Awards
Each year at the National FFA Convention & Expo, four FFA members are honored with American Star Awards for outstanding accomplishments in FFA and agricultural education.

The American Star Awards, including American Star Farmer, American Star in Agribusiness, American Star in Agricultural Placement and American Star in Agriscience, are presented to FFA members who demonstrate outstanding agricultural skills and competencies through completion of an SAE. A required activity in FFA, an SAE allows students to learn by doing, by either owning or operating an agricultural business, working or serving an internship at an agriculture-based business, or conducting an agriculture-based scientific experiment and reporting results.

Other requirements to achieve the award include demonstrating top management skills; completing key agricultural education, scholastic and leadership requirements; and earning an American FFA Degree, the organization’s highest level of student accomplishment.

Sixteen American Star Award finalists from throughout the U.S. were nominated by a panel of judges who then interviewed the finalists this fall. Four were named winners during the 93rd National FFA Convention & Expo this year, which was held virtually. Winners received cash awards. Case IH, Elanco Animal Health and Syngenta sponsor the awards.

The National FFA Organization is a school-based national youth leadership development organization of more than 760,000 student members as part of 8,700 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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