FFA helps Thiel learn life skills

Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Austin Thiel of rural Marshall unloads corn into a truck at Thiel Farms, a family owned farm in the Malta Bend area. In addition to helping in the field, Austin does various other duties including cleaning bins and working on equipment.

Austin Thiel said becoming a Marshall High School FFA member as a freshman has helped him - and can help others - learn many "life skills."

"There are a lot of opportunities that are involved," said Austin, who lives in rural Marshall. "Plus it is a lot of fun."

Although he said he didn't know much about FFA at first, he joined as a freshman after seeing all the "fun" his older brother was having in the organization.

On April 15, Austin, the son of Bryan Thiel and Michelle Smith, was one of five MHS FFA members who were honored with the State FFA Degree during the 83rd annual Missouri FFA Convention in Columbia.

For his Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) he has worked for several years in a variety of jobs on Thiel Farms at Malta Bend, a family farm established by his grandfather and great uncle and now operated by his father and two cousins.

His duties including running machinery, cleaning out grain bins, mowing and working on equipment. During the fall and spring, he works mostly on weekends, sometimes up to 20 hours. During the summer he works full time, putting in 40 hours or more a week.

Doing the "grunt work" on his family's farm has helped him "build character" and learn discipline, said Austin with a grin.

In addition to that, being an FFA member has also helped him build leadership and organization skills, he said.

His favorite FFA activity has been participating on contest teams, "because it is something you work on and see what you've achieved," he said.

Through the years he has achieved a lot as an individual and member of several Career Development Event (CDE) teams.

This year he was a member of Marshall's Ag Issues team, which won the Central District contest, eventually placing fifth place overall in the state. In 2010, he was part of the Farm Management team, which also took first place at district and placed sixth overall in state. As a freshman, Austin was the fourth place individual in the state Dairy Cattle Judging contest.

Austin served this year as sentinel of the FFA chapter and was junior treasurer his sophomore year. He has also won several FFA awards including a third place award in Diversified Crop Entrepreneurship in Area 6. This year he also qualified for area in Advanced Public Speaking.

In other activities, he is a member of BirdCage, Spanish Club and MHS varsity golf. He also served as a girl's basketball manager this past season. He is a member of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church and is active in the Lutheran Youth Fellowship at the church.

Although he doesn't have a lot of spare time in the spring between golf, FFA and farming activities, when he does he enjoys hanging out with friends and working on the farm.

This fall he is going to go to the University of Missouri-Columbia and major in Animal Science. Although his future plans are still uncertain, he thinks that someday he would like to become a veterinarian.

Contact Marcia Gorrell at mgorrell@marshallnews.com