Locals garner rare awards through FFA

Jazlyn Meyer of Fairmont has received a gold ranking with her Proficiency Award Application at the national level in the area of Small Animal Production and Care. Meyer is the first student from Fairmont to win her category at the national level.

Two Fairmont residents recently won prestigious awards through FFA.

Jazlyn Meyer, a senior at Fairmont High School, received a gold ranking with her Proficiency Award Application at the national level in the area of small animal production and care. Meyer raises, sells and shows rabbits.

“My parents surprised me with a Holland Lop rabbit for Easter in 2008,” she said. “That got me started with rabbits and I joined 4-H right away.”

At first, she just had Holland Lops, but after several years she got some other breeds and has been experimenting ever since. Meyer has some Californians, Jersey Wollies, Holland Lops, and recently acquired a Thiantra rabbit, which is rare and is a brownish-red color.

While Meyer has somewhere around 30 rabbits, she only shows about 12 to 15 at a time, working with the ones that have the most desirable traits.

“It’s kind of like showing dogs,” she explained. “The rabbits all have pedigrees.”

Meyer has been busy over the past few years, showing rabbits nearly every weekend all across the country through the American Rabbit Breeders Association. She is going to Sioux Falls for a show today.

“It’s kind of been my whole life,” Meyer admitted.

Since Meyer raises, sells and shows rabbits, there’s always a lot of work to be done.

“I always spend one to three hours a day with them, but sometimes I spend the whole day with them,” she said. “I practice with them and make sure they know how to pose. It’s important to work with them when they’re babies.”

Meyer joined FFA her freshman year, which is the soonest anyone can join. She has been involved ever since.

Meyer has a job and is also in orchestra at the high school but admits that 4-H, FFA and her rabbits take up much of her time.

Amber Seibert, the ag instructor and FFA adviser at the high school, reported that Meyer is the first student to win her category at the national level, and the first student to compete at the national level for anything.

“I’ve seen Jazlyn show and it’s very impressive,” Seibert said. “She works hard and really knows a lot. This is a big accomplishment.”

Meanwhile, Larissa Becker of Fairmont will receive the American FFA Degree at the National FFA Convention this fall. Becker received the news this week and will go to the ceremony in Indianapolis this fall.

Less than 1 percent of all FFA members earn their American FFA degree. It is given to those who have made significant accomplishments with their supervised agricultural experiences.

Becker, who will be a sophomore at Iowa State this fall, joined 4-H and began showing pigs in seventh grade. She joined FFA her freshman year when she went to a meeting with her older brother, Levi.

“I saw a picture of my grandpa Larry on the wall there,” Becker said. “He received his FFA American Degree too. That’s when I thought that I wanted to join too.”

Becker enjoys going around looking at pigs with her siblings and cousins.

“The pigs are born around January and that’s when we go around and look for the best ones to buy at sales,” she explained. “Then we take care of and work with them and then they’re ready to show by fair time.”

Becker’s current favorite pig, Rambo, was born Jan. 15 and weighs 260 pounds.

Since FFA members can remain involved until they’re 21, Becker has still been busy with it, even while in her first year of college.

Since joining FFA her freshman year, Becker has put in a total of 3,000 hours and 80 service hours, which is how she qualified to be eligible to earn the American Degree.

“I’ve helped with the FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) camp the past two years,” she said. “I’ve also helped clean road ditches the past four years and we’ve made tie blankets and donated them to the hospital. I also helped out with the backpack program. Doing all of that has helped with my service hours.”

There are an estimated 11,000 FFA members in Minnesota. This year, only 90 received the American Degree. Becker is the only one from Martin County, and it has been 30 years since someone from Fairmont received it.

Right now, Becker is studying animal science. After graduating, she would like to come back to the family farm, LB Pork. She hopes to be a part of the alumni program for Fairmont FFA.

“It’s nice to have kids come back and help out with events,” Seibert said.

The two have been working together ever since Becker began taking ag classes at the high school during her sophomore year.

Becker will attend the National Convention in Indianapolis in the fall, her third trip to the convention.

“FFA has helped me step out of my comfort zone and make me who I am today,” she said. “I’m so thankful for that.”