Gowrie teen is a welcome helping hand

Ben Carlson recognized for his work around the farm

-Messenger photo by Kriss Nelson
Ben Carlson, 18, of Gowrie, was one of the top six Stars Over Iowa winners in production agriculture at the Iowa FFA State Convention in Ames.

GOWRIE — Ben Carlson is much like your typical farm kid, helping out where and when he can around his family farm.

The 18-year-old Carlson, a senior at Southeast Valley High School, is a member of the Central Plains FFA chapter, which has allowed him to take his experiences gained on the farm and put them towards his Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) throughout his high school FFA career.

Last month, during the 91st annual Iowa FFA State Leadership Conference held in Ames, Carlson was recognized for those efforts and more when he was introduced on stage as one of the 2019 Stars Over Iowa finalists for the area of agricultural production.

Steven Kehoe, Central Plains FFA advisor, said the Stars Over Iowa award program recognizes FFA members who have outstanding involvement in all components of the three-circle model which includes classroom/laboratory, SAE and FFA.

“Ben Carlson has excelled in those three areas locally and I am extremely happy that he was selected as one of the top six students in production agriculture,” said Kehoe.

“It’s a huge accomplishment I wasn’t expecting,” said Carlson. “It’s just been a fun experience throughout my FFA career.”

There isn’t much Carlson doesn’t do on his family’s Webster County farm.

“I help with the livestock, doing chores, vaccinations,” he said. “I help with all of our production on the crop side.”

He also helps with the feeding, caring and cleaning of his family’s multiple hog buildings as well as with the cattle operation.

“I walk though the buildings and the feedlot,” he said. “I make sure the animals are healthy and if we would find a sick one, I help to treat them as soon as possible. I haul all of the manure from the cattle and also assist with liquid manure.”

On what Carlson refers to as the “ag production” side of their family’s operation, he helps plant, field cultivate, apply anhydrous, combining, hauling grain, driving the grain cart and more.

“I have pretty much done it all,” he said.

“He has been involved with all aspects of their diversified crop and livestock enterprises that allowed him to get a grasp on the inputs with production agriculture,” said Kehoe.

It’s more than just the hours of labor. Carlson takes his work on the farm a step further.

In order to submit his SAE project, he has to document and keep detailed records of his work.

“Throughout the year we take pictures of me out in the field and caring for the livestock,” Carlson said. “I go through and keep records and at the end of the year I put everything into an application.”

This includes market plans, financial plans and more.

“For example, I will include what we sold hogs for,” he said. “It goes into a lot of detail.”

He is planning on attending Iowa State University, majoring in ag systems technology, and wants to come back to the farm.

“Doing this project has propelled me that much farther to want to come back and farm and continue to expand our farm with my brother and keep it going,” said Carlson.

His father, Jim Carlson, said his son’s FFA project has taught him more than just his way around the farm.

“It’s good work ethic,” the elder Carlson said. “It has taught him some of the responsibilities of taking care of the livestock and some of what it takes to grow a crop and work on the farm.”

Jim Carlson praised FFA.

“FFA is a great organization that gives these kids opportunities to learn and grow and so anytime you are recognized on a state level, it is a pretty good accomplishment,” he said. “I am proud of the way Ben has worked hard and accomplished some of his goals.”

All of the time spent working, keeping records and applying to become a Star Over Iowa finalist may be no easy task, but Ben Carlson encourages others to try.

“Just go with it,” he said. “Even if you are a little nervous, your advisor will help you through it and there will be FFA alumni that will help you through it. You can’t lose because you will gain experience and knowledge and it will help you.”

Carlson’s FFA career also includes several local and district FFA activities as well as attending both state and national conventions, restoring a John Deere tractor in the FFA division at the Iowa State Fair and is currently serving as his chapter’s parliamentarian.

In addition to FFA, Carlson has participated in 4-H, showing cattle on a county and state level as well as various other activities.

He is just one of many success stories that has come from the Southeast Valley High School’s Central Plains FFA chapter, according to Kehoe.

“The chapter has been extremely lucky over the years to have star finalists with their Iowa FFA Degree,” he said. “We have great students with caring parents that promote and encourage their children to be involved in agriculture.”

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