FFA Week: Soon-To-Be FFA Advisor To Build School’s Ag Program
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Toni Rasmussen describes herself as the ‘typical farm kid’ and has this to say about her background: “Farming was just a part of who I was, and who I wanted to be.”
Toni was raised in northeast Nebraska, where the family farm consists of cattle, hogs, and chickens. For crops, they raise corn, soybeans, alfalfa, and some wheat.
She grew up with two older brothers, and wanting to follow in their footsteps she wholeheartedly became involved in the family farming operation - complete with fieldwork, feeding cattle, cleaning the chicken house, and helping to manage accounts.
It was only natural that Toni would gravitate to FFA in high school, first at Newman Grove high school and then at Boone Central schools in Albion, NE. She greatly enjoyed the sense of community that the organization offered.
“Much like anything that has ever impacted me, it was most definitely the people with whom I interacted. Whether it was Range judging, FFA State Officer interviews, conferences, State FFA Convention, or National FFA Convention, meeting new people and getting to know people who you already knew was the best part of FFA.”
As she became more involved in FFA, it became apparent to her that FFA wasn’t just for the ‘farm kids.’ She came to the realization that it was an organization for anyone who wanted to learn new skills and be challenged as a person.
“I fell in love with the organization when I realized how much I could personalize it - choosing agriculture classes, developing my own projects in SAE’s (Supervised Agricultural Experiences) which was the farm, and my goats."
Goats are a unique asset to the family farm that the Rasmussen family "accepts."
Her FFA project with goats began when she purchased one fainting goat in junior high. (Originally, she had wanted to get a horse, but her dad wasn’t thrilled with the idea, so goats were the alternative!) From there, she expanded to as many as forty fainting and meat goats, and now keeps about ten meat goat nannies on the farm.
“I run the goats like a cow-calf operation, raise the kids to around 70 or 80 pounds, then distribute them to local buyers or the barns. I’ve also provided nannies to others who want to start a goat herd, specifically youth in the local area.”
After graduating from high school, Toni has juggled her goat business, helping out on the farm, and attending college at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, where she is pursuing a major in Agriculture Education Teaching and minoring in Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship. She will be graduating in May.
Toni received her American Degree in October 2014 as a college sophomore in Louisville, Kentucky. She is pictured with her father, Keith, and mother, Lonnelle.
Toni has a positive outlook on life, and she aims to live a life of ‘oh wells’ rather than a life of ‘what ifs.’ It’s this personal mantra and passion for her profession that has helped her secure the role of Agriculture Educator and FFA Advisor at Wayne Community Schools upon her graduation from school in May.
This position offers Rasmussen a unique opportunity: The 2017 to 2018 school year will be the first year that Wayne has offered agricultural classes. Basically, she will get to help shape the program into what it will become, and create an impactful legacy for future generations.
Toni strongly believes in the importance of agricultural education: “It is so very important for people to understand the agriculture industry, whether they end up in an agriculture career, come from an agriculture background, or neither."
"Why? Because one has to know why food prices are rising, what policies and regulations are in place making that happen, and what food is good for them. In addition to food, agriculture provides a source of fiber for clothing and fuel for vehicles. Finally, agriculture is a tradition and livelihood for many people - many people whom you know.”
The Nebraska Agricultural Youth Council is a group of young men and women who promote agriculture and host the Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute, a five day summer conference for high school juniors and seniors. Toni traveled to the panhandle last spring to recruit for NAYI.
In retrospect, Toni has realized that her background on the farm, managing her own goat business, and involvement in FFA has prepared her for her upcoming role as an ag educator and FFA advisor. She has great faith in her students, and can’t wait to teach a subject that is constantly growing and changing.
“Agriculture education is even more than production agriculture. Production agriculture is definitely the foundation and still taught, in addition to biotechnology, communications, leadership, business, natural resources, and many other topics that we’ve expanded on in agriculture in the past century.”
Miss Rasmussen truly enjoys teaching students and expanding their knowledge base and leadership potential.
Wayne Community Schools is extremely fortunate to have a dedicated, knowledgable and enthusiastic FFA Advisor and Ag Educator such as Toni Rasmussen. Join us in congratulating Miss Rasmussen on this amazing opportunity with well wishes in the comments!
Photo Credit (Toni Rasmussen with FFA Jacket): Sue's Photographic Images