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Stutrud an American Star Farmer

By Staff | Aug 22, 2014

Stutrud

FFA is in Josh Stutrud’s blood.

His great-grandfather was a state advisor, headed the national talent program and together with his wife penned the state FFA handbook. His father received an American ag degree and was also a state advisor.

Upon joining the Rugby FFA chapter in eighth grade, Stutrud set a goal for himself: he wanted to be a finalist for the American Star Farmer award. This year, he won the top spot, being the first from the Rugby chapter to do so.

The American Star Farmer is one of four supervised ag experiences, along with agribusiness, ag placement and agriscience, at the national level. Four finalize nationally, but only the top producer receives the award. It is considered one of the highest awards the FFA can bestow on a young farmer, recognizing career and leadership development.

Stutrud started making strides toward winning the award in eighth grade and grew a beef cattle and grain operation.

“I wanted to set my goal high and try to achieve it,” Stutrud said.

Stutrud competed for the top spot against young farmers from Wisconsin, Minnesota and Oklahoma.

Achieving Stutrud’s goal was not without setbacks, among them high capital costs, including land.

“It creates a challenge for young farmers wanting to get into the business,” Stutrud said.

His health presented another challenge. Stutrud has epilepsy, and he experienced recurrent seizures during his freshman year of college. The seizures worsened to the point where he had to undergo brain surgery. In December of his sophomore year, before finals week, doctors removed a portion of Stutrud’s right temporal lobe — a part of the brain that processes sound and visuals, understands and produces speech and plays a part in long-term memory. He worked on the farm, but was unable to drive for more than a year.

Currently Stutrud is attending North Dakota State University, where he is pursuing a degree in crop and weed science with a minor in agribusiness. He expects to graduate in December.

Only two other members of the Rugby FFA chapter have been star finalists in recent history: Mark Thiel in ag placement and Chris Brossart in agribusiness.

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