Andy Wagner, 16, works on the irrigation system of his strawberry patch at his home in Dover Township.
At 15, an age at which many teenagers are thinking about getting their first jobs, Andy Wagner was mulling how much to pay his first employees - one of whom was older than he.
He decided to hire help for the strawberry patch he'd operated since he was 12 because he was busy with another job last summer at Nofziger Farm Service, where he was putting in 45 hours a week mixing and delivering fertilizer.
Even with the help of two of his friends picking and selling 1,200 quarts of strawberries, there were nights in the height of the season that Andy was up until 1 a.m. packaging strawberries - and back at work again at 5 a.m.
Now, 16, Andy, is one of six Fulton County students who will be recognized next week with first-place awards at the Ohio FFA Convention in Columbus for their work in agriculture.
Andy, a Wauseon High School junior, who is the new president of his FFA chapter, will be honored with a first place accounting award, one of the organization's most competitive categories.
Michael Schrock, 18, checks out the John Deere no-till drill he uses on his soybean patch in Clinton Township.
The previous two Wauseon FFA chapter presidents are also to receive first place awards.
Katy Corkle, a senior who was president this school year, won the floriculture proficiency placement contest for her work at Anything Grows florist shop in Wauseon and with the Wauseon Tree Commission, for which she identified and labeled 700 trees last summer and is to map another 800 trees this summer.
And Kattie Miller, who was Wauseon FFA president in 2004-05, won in specialty crop production placement for her work at Rupp Seed Inc. in Clinton Township where she got a nice tan from her hours outside pollinating pumpkins.
The other three Fulton County winners all graduated from Pettisville High School last year.
Michael Schrock, who was contracting corn on the futures market at an age when his peers were asking their parents for money to go to the movies, won in diversified agricultural production.
Laura Bruner, who impressed leaders at Rupp Seed when she asked for help with a science fair project that she eventually entered in 19 science fairs, won in food science and technology proficiency. And Shane Poulson, who exhibited the grand champion market hog at last year's Ohio State Fair, won in swine production placement.
Mr. Schrock and Miss Bruner also had top awards last year for Pettisville, but this spring is the first time since 1983 that Wauseon FFA has had three first-place winners in state contests.
And all three are to receive the State FFA Degree at the convention as well.
"That's a banner year for us," said Eric Richer, one of the advisers to Wauseon's 73 members.
Here's more about the winners:
●Mr. Schrock, 18, a freshman in Owens Community College's John Deere agricultural mechanics program, is a part-time mechanic at Liechty Farm Equipment Inc. in Archbold.
He recorded a profit of $14,000 over four years of raising corn, soybeans, wheat, feeder calves, and hogs. Last year he raised 35 acres of corn and 25 acres of beans, renting land and equipment from his father. "I'm thankful dad allowed me to do what I did while I was in high school, Mr. Schrock said. "He wouldn't have had to let me farm close to 70 of his acres, but he knew it meant a lot to me."
●Miss Bruner, 19, who is studying plant pathology as a freshman at Ohio State University, said she wants to become a plant breeder - a direct take-off from her work at Rupp for three summers where she pollinated squash and soybeans and performed quality tests on various varieties.
Her goal, she said, is to develop seeds that are resistant to disease, which would help increase crop yields. She's thinking about getting a master's degree in plant genetics.
●Miss Miller, 18, also worked for Rupp pollinating new hybrids, as well as packaging, shipping, and photographing seeds for the company's catalogs.
She is a freshman in Northwest State Community College's office administration program.
●Mr. Poulson, 19, a freshman at Northwest State Community College plans to transfer to Ohio State University in the fall to study animal science or agricultural business. He has been employed at Tom Moyer & Family LLC for two years cleaning, bedding, and feeding hogs.
●Miss Corkle, 18, was hired at Anything Grows after working with the shop on an FFA floriculture contest. Her work as the tree intern for the Wauseon Tree Commission also grew out of preparation for FFA contests. She learned the tree types through her work for FFA forestry and nursery and landscaping contests.
She plans to study art education at the University of Toledo. Art, she said, ties into her job at Anything Grows as much as agriculture. She enjoys working with color and texture in designing arrangements.
Contact Jane Schmucker at: