Agriculture Education Students Awarded Kansas Agriculture Skills and Competencies Certificates


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MANHATTAN, Kansas — Twenty-five students from seven schools in Kansas have been awarded the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s Kansas Agriculture Skills and Competencies Certificate. Of these, 24 were awarded the general certificate, five were awarded the animal science certificate and one was awarded the plant systems certificate. High schools with students earning certificates include Buhler, Centre, Ellsworth, Greeley County, Holton, Republic County and Wellington.

Students have completed requirements in the areas of classroom instruction, supervised agricultural experience (SAE) and FFA. They have demonstrated excellence in agricultural knowledge, career readiness and leadership development. Students must also maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher in all school courses to earn the certification.

“The criteria to achieve these certificates represents more than just one specific exam, event, or activity on a single day but a culmination of successful involvement and achievement in multiple activities over four years of high school,” said John Clark, the agriculture education teacher at Buhler High School. “These students who earned these certificates should be proud of this high honor, which is only accomplished by students who are very well-rounded in a variety of requirements.”

KDA is committed to establishing a dynamic and well-equipped workforce that meets the diverse needs of the agriculture industry today. “Growth in Kansas agriculture will depend on a strong workforce, so we need skilled young people like these to support the future of the industry,” said Russ Plaschka, KDA marketing director. “These certificates show they have developed critical skills that will help them in their future careers, whether they end up on dairies, ranches, farms, agribusinesses, research labs, or in the variety of other employment opportunities in agriculture.”

The Kansas Agriculture Skills and Competencies Certificates meet the requirement for industry-recognized certifications earned by students in high school. Industry-recognized certifications are one of three ways that schools can increase the success rate for their postsecondary progress on their annual report card from the Kansas State Department of Education.

These certificates have been endorsed by several industry organizations and employers:

  • Kansas Animal Science Skills & Competencies Certificate: Kansas Farm Bureau, Frontier Farm Credit and Triangle H.
  • Kansas Agriculture Skills & Competencies Certificate: FFA Foundation, Kansas Farm Bureau, Kansas Grain & Feed Association and Kansas Livestock Association.
  • Kansas Plant Systems Skills & Competencies Certificate: Kansas Farm Bureau, Kansas Wheat, Frontier Farm Credit, Harris Crop Insurance, Hummert International, Scott Cooperative Association, Milliken Ag Concepts, and Middle Creek Seed.

Applications for the Kansas Agriculture Skills & Competencies Certificates are accepted each spring. To find more information, visit

Complete list of students:

Kansas Agriculture Skills and Competencies Certificates:

Buhler High School

  • Jackson Childs
  • Thomas Compton
  • Hunter Durham
  • Jaylee Giles
  • Maren Lackey
  • Kacey Lehl
  • Mace McCabe
  • Jared McQuilliam
  • Carson Moler
  • Bradley Neill
  • Marissa Orem
  • Tanner Tustain
  • Bonner Van Bruggen
  • Caroline Wagner
  • Kaden Warner
  • Abigail Yutzy

 Centre High School

  • Quinten Bina
  • Kyle Peterson
  • Tanner Stuchlik

 Ellsworth High School

  • Nicole Haase

 Greeley County High School

  • Payton Walk

 Holton High School

  • Katina Bartel

 Republic County High School

  • Nicole Popelka

 Wellington High School

  • Baylee Newberry

 Kansas Plant Systems Skills and Competencies Certificates:

Wellington High School

  • Matthew Pryce

 Kansas Animal Science Skills and Competencies Certificates:

Buhler High School:

  • Hunter Durham
  • Jaylee Giles
  • Maren Lackey
  • Kacey Lehl
  • Caroline Wagner
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Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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