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OSU ag econ student follows in brother’s footsteps with national FFA award

Tyler Schnaithman was recently named the 2016 American Star Farmer, one of the most prestigious honors awarded to a student by the National FFA organization.

It’s an award he has spent most of his life working toward, and an award that already had Schnaithman family ties.

Long before Schnaithman was an Oklahoma State University agricultural economics major, he was an 11-year-old boy from Garber, Oklahoma, who bought a half interest in a swather and began putting up custom hay with his brother, Travis. That early partnership with his brother eventually grew into a diversified farming operation.

Tyler Schnaithman became involved with FFA in the eighth grade, starting out with 7 acres of wheat.

“That developed a passion in me,” he said, “and from there I was able to extend my operation over the years.”

Today his passion is focused on crop production, and a majority of his acres are on a no-till wheat/canola, double crop soybean, and corn rotation.

The fifth-generation farmer said his dream was to build a farming operation he could return to full-time after he graduates from Oklahoma State next May, and FFA taught him many of the skills he needed to do that.

“FFA taught me about responsibility,” he said.

It also helped him develop self-confidence and public speaking skills. Those skills helped him become one of only 10 Oklahomans to win the prestigious American Star Farmer award. One of those previous winners was his brother, who received the award in 2008.

Travis Schnaithman also got a jump-start in his agriculture career through the FFA organization. He said FFA taught him about record keeping, which he uses every day on the farm.

A family business is not without its disagreements, according to the young brothers. Travis said he and Tyler sometimes find themselves teaming up against their father with their new generation ideas.

“We’re teaching Dad to adopt new technologies, why we should spend money on this, how it’s going to benefit us -- but we wouldn’t be here farming if it wasn’t for him,” he said.

The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education provides leadership and resources and assures standards of excellence for a comprehensive statewide system of career and technology education. The system offers programs and services in 29 technology center districts operating on 58 campuses, 390 comprehensive school districts, 14 Skills Centers campuses that include three juvenile facilities and 28 Adult Basic Education service providers.

The agency is governed by the State Board of Career and Technology Education and works closely with the State Department of Education and the State Regents for Higher Education to provide a seamless educational system for all Oklahomans.


Related content:

Oklahoma Horizon story: Farming’s Future - Tyler Schnaithman

NewsOK - America Star Farmer continues family tradition

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