Prins named FFA national champion

Lisa Depies
Aaron Prins, left, of Geneseo was named the 2010 National FFA Champion in the grain production placement category. With Prins is Greg Peton, representing category sponsor Pioneer Hi-Bred.

Aaron Prins of Geneseo is a national FFA champion, a feat no other Geneseo student has achieved.

At last weekend’s National?FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Ind., Prins received the nation’s top award in the grain production placement category.

“It was a really proud moment for me. Four years of hard work and dilligence paid off,” said Prins.

FFA members are encouraged to participate in SAE?(Supervised Agricultural Experince) projects. Members keep detailed records of their accomplishments as well as costs and materials.

“It’s a record of everything you’ve done over the past four years,” said Prins.

For his project, the 2010 GHS?graduate worked for several area farmers.

“I had to keep track of things like hours worked and wages earned. They also wanted to see the skills and tasks I’d learned starting from sweeping out the shop my freshman year to operating the combine my senior year,”?he said.

After advancing through local levels, Prins and his record book competed at the state level last spring.

In front of a panel of judges, Prins answered questions and explained his project.

“They ask the questions because they want to know if you’ve actually done the project. They want you to know your stuff,” he said.

Prins was named the Illinois state champion in grain production. After winning the state contest, Prins was selected as one of four FFA members in the United States to compete at the national level.

“This year’s national convention was the fourth one I’ve attended, but it was the first one where I was competing. It was neat to be there for myself, my chapter and my state,” said Prins.

On Oct. 21, Prins appeared before a panel of nine judges to discuss his project. “They’re out to stump you. They want to know who knows their stuff,” he said.

Judges ranged from farmers to the head of international marketing for Pioneer Hi-Bred, said Prins. “It was a very thorough interview session.”

Following the session, Prins said he felt like he’d done well. “As always,?I wished I’d talked more. You’re only given 15 minutes, and it’s hard to cover four years of work in 15 minutes. There were things I could have emphasized or could have included, but, overall, it was a good interview,” he said.

After the interview, Prins and his fellow competitors had to wait 24 hours before results were announced at the Oct. 22 general session in front of the national FFA delegates.

Each national finalists was called to the stage and presented with a $500 check, said Geneseo FFA advisor and ag instructor Brian Stahl. That was followed by the announcement that Prins was the national champion. As champion, he received an additional $500.

“When they called my name, I was in disbelief,” said Prins.

“This is a big deal. It’s huge,” said Stahl. “There are 520,000 FFA members in the nation, and he’s a winner. To our knowledge, we’ve never had a Geneseo national winner before.”

Stahl hopes Prins’ victory will inspire younger Geneseo FFA members.

“To see something like this helps them know that it’s possible to reach the highest levels because they know someone who has done it,” said Stahl.

“I hope I can be a role model for the chapter. I want the other members to know if I can do this, they can definitely do it,” said Prins.

Prins is the son of Kevin and Teresa Prins of Geneseo. He attends Wabash Valley College in Mt. Carmel and plans to transfer to Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. Prins is majoring in agronomy and ag production.