Newark students reap recognition for farming degrees

These Newark High School students earned the Illinois Association Future Farmers of America State Degree. They are, from left, Jacquelin Harvey, KJ Friestad, Ty Steffen and Carter Westphal. They were honored by the Kendall County Board on Aug. 2, 2022. (Mark Foster --

A modern farmer needs a strong educational foundation to succeed.

From chemistry to biology, from mechanics to business, farming requires knowledge of numerous disciplines to produce food for the dinner tables of America and world.

Four Newark High School students have been getting that education, earning the Illinois Association Future Farmers of America State Degree.

The students include KJ Friestad, Ty Steffen, Jaquelin Harvey and Carter Westphal.

The degree recipients completed a rigorous program of agricultural instruction that includes farming experience, scholastic excellence and demonstrations of leadership ability.

The Kendall County Board honored the four students on Aug. 2, with board Chairman Scott Gryder and Regional School Superintendent Chris Mehochko present them with plaques commemorating their achievement.

“We have a deep agricultural history here in Kendall County,” Gryder said in making the presentations.

“What these kids are doing is not easy,” Gryder said.

The students each completed the equivalent of at least two years of school instruction in agricultural education at or above the ninth-grade level.

They also are required to earn at least $1,500 or worked at least 750 hours in excess of scheduled class time in a supervised agricultural experience program and at least 25 hours of community service activities.

Leadership activities include service as a FFA officer, committee chairperson or participating member of a chapter committee, giving a speech on an agricultural topic and participated in a least five FFA activities.

The students also must be in the top 40% of the class in scholarship, or have 3.5 grade point average on a 5.0 scale, or 2.5 on a 4.0 scale.