A Killdeer teen has been named a finalist for a prestigious North Dakota FFA award, the culmination of years of work raising cattle.
"It's an extremely high honor to get this far. It's been one of my goals since I started my Supervised Agricultural Experience, and really got into the cattle industry, to apply for the Star Farmer program and become a finalist," Iris Dukart said. "It's very rewarding because it shows how much my work has taken me and is kind of a reward for all those long hours I've put in."
The Star Farmer category recognizes achievement in career and leadership development and is awarded, according to a press release issued by North Dakota's FFA, to the FFA member with the top production agriculture SAE. It is considered the highest designation awarded to a young farmer.
"I began my SAE in 2013 when I received a Dakota Community Bank and Trust Foundation Female Program," Dukart said. "I received an interest-free loan to buy five bred heifers, so I bought five registered Red Angus heifers in 2013 and I've since grown my herd to 20 head. So this is a long-term project I've been working on."
Dukart is a fourth generation farmer and rancher, she said. Her goal is to go into the agriculture business full time. Her favorite part about the farm/ranch lifestyle is how it provides Dukart insight into the nature of life and the impact humans can have upon the world around them.
"The thing I really enjoy the most about raising cattle ... is kind of the beauty of new life. So we're in calving season right now so we get to see the new babies born, in the fall we get the cows ready ... it's kind of, you get the full circle," Dukart said. "You get to help bring that new life into the world. On the crop side, we raise a lot of crops and we're planting right now and in the fall we get to reap our harvest. That's kind of my favorite thing, seeing the full circle, all the things we do and how it affects the world around us."
The process for passing the finalist phase of the Star Farmer award category involved an hour-long interview at Dukart's home, where she showed a panel of judges her cows and discussed her process. She said she'll learn whether she won on the evening of June 5.
Dukart said she was grateful for the support of her parents, Derrick and Angie Dukart as well as her advisor in FFA, David Leier.
"These members have worked incredibly hard all year long, and it is always exciting to unveil the finalists for the Star Awards," Tamra Maddock, executive director of the North Dakota FFA Foundation, stated in the press release. "We wish them all the best as they compete at State Convention and are so proud of the work they have already done with their Supervised Agricultural Experiences to get to this point."
The other Star Farmer finalists in addition to Dukart are Bethany Anderson, of Harvey; Christina Bingham of Max and Ryan Muggli of Grant County.