Tony Boehm has been involved with his local chapter of FFA, Richland 44 FFA, for the better part of three decades. From humble beginnings as a student, Boehm worked his way through the entire FFA program, and eventually found himself on the other side of the desk, wearing the shoes of FFA teacher and FFA Advisor. From student to teacher; pupil to mentor; Boehm has viewed the FFA experience from every possible lens, and has dedicated his life to ensuring FFA leaves a positive impact on every student that passes through his classroom.
When Boehm – one of four recipients of NorthStar Genetics’ Community Star award for outstanding community service – began his role back in 1996, his chapter of FFA had 16 members. That number has now increased to 127 under the leadership of Boehm. Despite this immense growth to the program under his stewardship, Boehm stays humble.
“I don’t want to take the credit,” Boehm says, telling me about the growth of Richland 44’s FFA program. “I’ve always said when you’ve got a good program and lots of opportunities for kids they just come. I think it’s the product, if I can say the word ‘product,’ it’s the product that we have. It’s the FFA opportunities for these students that draws them. When we’ve got good officers and good parents and community support, boy it makes it a lot easier for me to do the things that I have to do. It’s been outstanding.”
Wondering about these aforementioned projects and opportunities in his chapter of FFA, I ask Boehm about some of the projects he’s initiated over the years. He tells me about Richland 44 FFA’s commitment to community service, and about “boards for boredom,” one of the FFA projects he’s most proud of. For the last 12 years or so, Boehm and his students hand-build checkerboards for sick children at the Sanford Children’s Hospital in Fargo, North Dakota. “To be able to deliver those checkerboards to the hospital, I think the students really understand how important it is and what it can mean to somebody,” Boehm explains. “Because if you’ve ever been in a hospital with a sick child you may be there for days, or weeks, or longer, so it’s just something to give to the hospital patients, the kids. It’s a really good project.”
Boehm continues to explain the importance of students seeing the project through from beginning to end. “You can raise money, and you can send out a check to somebody – and we do that as well – but to actually see the product, to see the place that it’s going … to see that final end is pretty cool.”
Boehm wants his work with Richland 44 FFA to end the misconception that FFA is all about production agriculture, and that it’s an extracurricular activity that has no bearing on life outside of agriculture. The program is in actuality co-curricular and runs on a continuous 12 -month cycle, helping students outside of school as well as in school, and giving them skills that transfer to other areas of life. “I know the majority of our students aren’t going to go into an ag career – but how can I help those students? How can I help a student interested in pharmacy? How can I help a student interested in construction?” Boehm illustrates his point. “There’s certainly things that we can teach in ag class and FFA that can help every student – I’m absolutely convinced. I hope our program is geared towards helping every student be a better citizen: learning leadership skills, learning public speaking. Those are skills that every student needs regardless of what they do for a career.”
Tony’s dedication to teaching and mentoring the youth of his community has earned him the title of Community Star. The NorthStar Genetics Community Star Initiative was designed to recognize and award the individuals that go above and beyond for their communities by awarding them $1,000 for their charity of choice – in Tony’s case Richland 44 FFA.
On behalf of NorthStar Genetics, thank you Tony Boehm for selflessly giving your time and efforts to your agriculture community. Without the effort of people like you, agriculture communities would be unable to thrive, evolve, or move forward.
“The idea for the Community Star program stemmed from recognizing the vital and selfless role that farmers play in supporting their farming communities,” says Dan Hogstad, CEO, NorthStar Genetics. “Despite their busy lives, they find time to give back to their communities. At NorthStar Genetics, we, in turn, wanted to recognize these individuals and say thank you. Without their efforts, many small town agricultural communities would fail to thrive.”
NorthStar Genetics is a trusted seed company because of their dedication to local growers and conditions, providing seed that is grown and conditioned locally on the same land as the farmers who grow it. By testing hundreds of varieties, they are able to designate them to specific areas based on local conditions and be confident that they will perform. NorthStar Genetics proudly serves four states, offering the highest quality, locally proven genetics available.