September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

Dairy kids part of MN FFA convention

Miron, Warren named state officers; Warren, Barka receive proficiency awards

By Krista M. Sheehan

Staff writer


ST. PAUL, Minn. – Blue jackets became a familiar sight once again at the University of Minnesota campus during the 82nd Minnesota FFA Convention. Many students received recognition and accepted awards, and six were chosen for the state officer team during the three-day event held May 1-3. Dairy students, Alan Barka, Andrew Miron and Tyler Warren, had a memorable state convention.


State officers chosen 

Tyler Warren didn’t even need to hear his name. As soon as he heard ‘Litchfield’ he knew he was the new state FFA treasurer. 

“The past FFA treasurer came and grabbed my hand to pull me up on stage. I was so overcome with emotion,” said Warren, a member of the Litchfield FFA chapter “I cried as I was running on stage and gave my new officer teammates a big hug.” 

Warren, a freshman majoring in agricultural education at the University of Minnesota, was one of six FFA members to be named a part of the 2011-2012 state FFA officer team during the closing ceremony of the convention on May 3. 

“When my name was called it was one of the highlights of my life,” Warren said.

As a state officer, Warren wants to inspire other FFA members to get more involved with the organization. 

“There are so many parts to FFA, but the members are ultimately what drive it,” he said. “I want to build many one-on-one relationships with FFA members across the state.” 

He also wants to promote agriculture to other people and companies that don’t know much about the industry.

“I want to showcase to the state of Minnesota how important the agriculture industry is to the state from an economic standpoint,” Warren said. 

Joining Warren as state FFA vice president for the next year is Andrew Miron, a senior at Forest Lake High School. 

“I was in tears,” Miron said about the moment he found out he would be on the state officer team. “At that time I was just taking in the moment. But I’m really excited for the upcoming year.” 

With five older siblings, Miron had already been exposed to the FFA program long before he could join. 

“I knew the kinds of opportunities it had and the doors it would open for me. When I got into the program, I really tried to engross myself in it and find those doors of opportunity,” Miron said. 

From his experience in FFA, Miron developed public speaking and organizational skills among many others. 

As state vice president, Miron hopes he can help other FFA members 

“I want to try to help other high schoolers realize the doors and opportunities available with FFA because it helps us grow as a person and helps the program at the same time,” he said. 

He also wants to bring more solidarity to the FFA program.

“There are some people in the outskirts of the state that feel a disconnect from the organization. My goal is to try to solve that disconnect and try to bring the state of Minnesota together as an organization,” he said. 

The four other FFA members chosen for the 2011-2012 state officer team are Hillary Kletscher from Wabbaso, president; Katie McNab from Waseca, secretary; Chelsea Vilchis from Hutchinson, reporter; and Dustin Smith from Staples-Motley, sentinel. 


Dairy Production Placement Proficiency Award

In addition to being named state FFA treasurer, Warren also received the Dairy Production Placement Proficiency Award. This award gives recognition to students who work on a dairy.

Warren, the son of John and Carol, works on his family’s dairy, R-L Acres, near Litchfield, Minn., where they milk 140 cows and farm 750 acres. 

“My main focus was to better the milk production on our farm,” Warren said. 

Warren planned to do this by making sure his farm used proper sanitation procedure for milking, research different bedding options for their freestall barn and use genetics to improve the herd. 

“I’m really big in the genetic aspect,” Warren said.

He enjoys analyzing the traits and pedigrees of sires and cows on their farm to create the next generation for animals in both production and type. Good feet and legs and udder composite along with other select type traits are what the Warren family focuses on when selecting sires. 

“Seeing it work and not work are both benefits because we learn from our successes and mistakes,” Warren said about the herd, which has 40 registered cows. 

Warren’s favorite part about farming is watching the animals grow. 

“I get to see the whole life span of a cow – from when she’s born to maturing into a cow. I get to see their journey,” he said. 


Dairy Production Entrepreneurship Proficiency Award

Alan Barka, also a member of the Litchfield FFA chapter, received the Dairy Production Entrepreneurship Proficiency Award. This award recognizes students who want to start their own herd. 

Barka did not grow up on a dairy farm, but has been exposed to dairy since a young age. 

“My dad did fieldwork for a neighbor who had a dairy farm. When my dad was in the I field, I would help our neighbor milk his cows,” Barka said. 

The start of his herd came in first grade.

“I got a heifer calf for a Christmas present and it’s just grown from there,” he said. 

While working for his neighbor, he would be paid with bull calves, which Barka would raise. When he sold them, he would use the money to put towards buying heifer calves. 

To earn extra income, Barka would do relief milking for other neighbors. 

Now the 18-year-old owns 15 cows and 20 heifers. While he raises the youngstock on his own family’s farm, his cows are milked and housed on his cousin’s dairy south of Litchfield. 

“The dairy proficiency has really helped me with the record keeping and helps me understand the financial aspect of it,” Barka said.

Although Barka is a senior this year, he is enrolled in the post secondary program at Ridgewater College. When he is finished with college next spring, Barka plans to start milking on his own. The neighbor who started Barka in the dairy industry had to retire because of health issues. Barka plans to rent his barn to start farming. 

“I like everything about the dairy industry,” Barka said. “I’ve always liked being around the cows.”

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