2019 ND FFA Star Award recipients

The North Dakota FFA Association announces the winners of some of its most prestigious award categories to be awarded at the annual North Dakota State FFA Convention June 3-6: The Star Awards.

The Star Awards highlight students who have mastered skills in production, finance, management or research. The “Star” categories include: Star Farmer, Star in Agricultural Placement, Star in Agriscience and Star in Agribusiness.  The individuals selected as finalists for these awards are made up of high school students in North Dakota. They must be a member of the ND FFA to qualify.

“These members have worked incredibly hard all year long, and it is always exciting to unveil the winners for the Star Awards,” says Tamra Maddock, Executive Director of the North Dakota FFA Foundation. “We are proud of the work they have done with their Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE) to get to this point and wish them the best should they continue to be able to create an application for the national star awards.”


In 2015 Ryan, with the help of his family, was able to start his farming enterprise by renting 210 acres and planting wheat and soybeans. His operation has since expanded to a total of 790 acres in 2018 and he diversified his crop production to include corn, wheat, soybeans, sunflowers and rye.

Ryan farms alongside his father and brother and uses a labor/equipment exchange to cover some of his expenses and additional labor. He was able to purchase his own tractor, combine and heater for use in the farming enterprise. Ryan contributes much of the growth and success of his SAE to the diversification of crops that are more marketable and profitable.

Ryan is the son of Tim and Andrea Muggli of Carson. He is a member of the Grant county FFA Chapter, and his advisor is Mr. Pete Hetle.

The Star Farmer category recognizes achievement in career and leadership development and is awarded to the FFA member with the top production agriculture SAE. The Star Farmer is considered the highest designation awarded to a young farmer. The finalists for 2019 Star Farmer were:

Bethany Anderson, Harvey

Christina Bingham, Max

Iris Dukart, Killdeer

Ryan Muggli, Grant County


Stuart did not grow up on a farm, but his dream of farming started at a young age while playing with toy tractors and semi-trucks, hoping someday to drive the real equipment. His SAE catapulted his dream. As a sophomore he started working weekends on a family farm near Sisseton, SD, completing field work, milking cows and miscellaneous jobs. That summer he began working for Leinen Farms, now called West Edge Farms. Stuart leaves school during co-op placement class and works until 9:30pm. Stuart is responsible for fall tillage on about 4,600 acres.

On fall weekends he works 17-hour days to ensure all acres are tilled. His employer, Tim Fenske, noted Stuart is ambitious and responsible with pride in the operation as if it was his own. He is versed in all aspects of the operation. he hauls grain to market with a semi, operates welders, the grain cart, hauls fertilizer, hauls water during spraying season, helps mix the chemicals and maintains and repairs equipment and facilities.

Stuart is a member of the Wahpeton FFA Chapter. His advisors are Mr. Darin Spelhaug and Ms. Cassidy Ziesch. He is the son of Barry and Shelly Boward.

The Star in Agricultural Placement is awarded to the individual with the best placement SAE program and one who exhibits proven leadership skills. Placement experience can consist of a member’s paid labor hours as well as directed laboratory labor hours. The finalists for the 2019 Star in Agricultural Placement were:

Stuart Bowar, Wahpeton

Casey Buskohl, Wyndmere

Conner Fike, Fessenden-Bowdon

Ivy Rose Klusmann, New Salem


Abbigale’s research includes seven projects in the plant and animal science pathways. Her research has covered areas of feed efficiency, parasite control, reproduction, soil health, fertilization and meat labeling. The “Effects of P.G. 600 and CIDRs on the Conception Rate of Ewes” and “Which Beef Breeding Protocols are Best for Sheep?” were two of her favorite projects. During the research she used CIDRs, Lutalyse, GNRH and P.G. 600 to determine how they affect the reproduction success of ewes. Her latest project involved the public perception on meat labeling involving 765 anonymous volunteers ranging from 18-76 years of age from several states.

Her work has attracted the interest of veterinarians, sheep and beef ranchers. She was asked to present at the ND Lamb and Wool Convention where over 65 people attended her session. She has presented at Dickinson State University and the Bowman-Slope Ag Banquet. She also finished ninth in the Animal Systems pathway at the National FFA Convention.

Abbigale is the president of the Scranton FFA Chapter. Her advisor is Mrs. Misty Steeke. She is the daughter of Trevor and Misty Steeke.

The Star in Agriscience is awarded to an FFA member who is actively engaged in agriscience research and experimentation through his or her SAE program. To be considered for this award, a member must be actively involved in the development of the experimental design, data collection, interpretation and publishing the results. The finalists for the 2019 Star in Agriscience were:

Teegan Henke, Center

Abbigale Steeke, Scranton

Anna Stoppleworth, Kindred


What started as two lawns and a small John Deer mower has grown into Nelsen Lawn Care and Snow Removal. As owner/operator, Keaton provides seasonal lawn care, landscaping, tree trimming and snow removal for customers in and around the Leeds, ND area. His reputation for having an excellent work ethic and attention to detail quickly spread and has doubled his customer base every year. He is now mowing 40 yards that include residential, commercial, cemeteries and the Leeds Golf Course.

With the growing customer base, Keaton had to adapt his business to meet customer wants and needs. he had numerous clients approach him with questions on tree trimming, tree removal, general landscaping and in the offseason, snow removal. This pushed him to acquire needed equipment such as multiple toro mowers, trimmers, a chainsaw and a skid steer to provide full-service year round. He hopes to continue to offer his services for the next few summers and looks to add an employee to help cover while he is away fro college.

Keaton is the son of Kyle and Kim Nelsen. he is a member of the Leeds FFA Chapter, and his advisor is Mr. Wade Anderson.

The Star in Agribusiness is awarded to the member with the best non-production entrepreneurial agribusiness SAE while displaying proven leadership skills. For a student pursuing a career in agribusiness, this is the highest distinction the FFA can award. The finalists for the 2019 Star in Agribusiness were:

Sierra Ellingson, Mandan

Brian Friedt, Harvey

Sean Gierke, Beulah

Keaton Nelson, Leeds


2 thoughts on “2019 ND FFA Star Award recipients

  1. Daryl Dukart

    congratulations to all the nominee’s and a special congratulations to my great niece Iris Dukart of the Killdeer FFA Chapter

    • Andrew Young Post author

      Thanks, Daryl! Congratulations indeed to both Iris and all of the finalists! They have a lot to be proud of!

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