Winner of the National FFA Diversified Livestock Proficiency plans to return to her farm
Northwest Missouri State University pre-vet major Amelia Liebhart has dreams of returning to her family’s farm in New Boston, Missouri.
“It’s my goal to carry on our family’s farming legacy. I want to be a large animal veterinarian and continue to raise livestock with my family,” Liebhart explains.
And thanks to her FFA diversified livestock project, the 19-year-old is off to a good start.
She owns and manages a herd of nearly 50 registered Salers beef cattle and a small breeding tribe of Boer meat goats. Throughout middle and high school Amelia also raised a small farrow-to-finish hog operation.
“My whole life revolves around my animals and our family farm. Even when I’m away at college, my dad and I talk and text everyday about my cows and goats. I come home frequently to help work cattle or kid goats,” she says.
Liebhart was recognized by the National FFA Organization for the skills she has developed through her livestock enterprises, winning the National FFA Diversified Livestock Proficiency Award during the 2019 National FFA Convention.
A fourth-generation cattle producer, Liebhart got her start with a heifer her dad gave her for a 4-H project when she was eight and a piglet her grandpa gave her as an eleventh birthday gift. Profits from her projects went right back into expanding her operation.
As her livestock enterprises expanded, so did her responsibilities. For several years now, the farms’ reproduction and breeding decisions fell to Liebhart. When she is home, she helps with every aspect of the operation from feed rations and feeding to herd health, management decisions and training and fitting show cattle.
Liebhart says her dad, grandpa and older sisters taught her how to care for livestock. But it was through FFA recordkeeping, required as part of her supervised agriculture experience, that she gained a clear understanding of the business side of raising livestock. “FFA record books made me keep track of receipts, how much I spent on feed, every vaccine and all other management decisions. This has helped me with a lot of management decisions.” In fact, it was by reviewing her records that she decided to increase the price she charged individuals who bought market hogs directly from her. “I noticed I wasn’t making an awful lot on my butcher hogs. So, I decided to charge more.”
FFA record books also came in handy when she was applying for scholarships because she also kept track of community service and leadership activities. Scholarships covered Liebhart’s first year of tuition. Graduating debt free is another goal she is working toward.
Setting goals and working toward achieving them is yet another skill Liebhart credits to her involvement in FFA. “Like working on the farm, FFA taught me responsibility. It taught me to be dedicated, have goals and know what I want to accomplish,” she says. “I set a goal to win the state proficiency.”
Along with goal setting, Liebhart’s livestock and her involvement in the FFA provided her with ample leadership opportunities. Through FFA, she participated in livestock judging and served as Bucklin FFA Chapter President. Actively involved in the American Salers Junior Association, she promoted her herd’s genetics exhibiting cattle at Junior National Shows, the Missouri State Fair and local fairs. She is the current American Salers Princess.
“I’ve learned that a lot of being a good leader is being there for people, encouraging them to try new things and letting them know you are there to help them,” Liebhart explains.
Supporting youth for the future of agriculture
Bucklin High School is small. Liebhart graduated with a class of 13. The FFA chapter is 50 members strong. Liebhart is its first member to win a state or national proficiency award. However, she was not alone working toward her goals. “My FFA advisor has been teaching for 23 years and never had a state proficiency winner, so both of us really wanted this for me,” Liebhart says.
Liebhart’s FFA Advisor and Agriculture Education Instructor Valerie Montgomery also supported her in her schoolwork outside of agriculture education classes. “I took dual credit classes and worked hard to get good grades. I would ask my ag advisor about how I should study for something or to review papers for me,” explains Liebhart, who completed one-year worth of college courses while in high school. “My ag teacher does so much for us. We all know she is there to help us because she really wants us to succeed in life.”
Like Liebhart’s FFA advisor, Bekaert, an Arkansas-based fencing company believes in supporting youth for future agricultural success. Bekaert sponsored the National FFA Diversified Livestock Proficiency award Liebhart received.
“We view youth as the future of agriculture. Bekaert believes in supporting organizations, like the FFA, which help shape and mold kids for successful futures,” says Michael Waigand, Bekaert regional sales manager. “As a fencing company, we support livestock owners of all ages. We help them keep their animals safe and where they need to be with the right fencing products and support them with technical knowledge.”
A former FFA member and father to two FFA members. Waigand says he understands firsthand the value FFA brings to its members. “It instills a set of ethics, drive and work ethic that kids won’t necessarily get from other activities. Whether it is raising livestock, participating in a speaking contest or welding project, FFA members learn a lot from these hands-on opportunities. Opportunities which expose them to success as well as failure.”
Knowing large corporations, like Bekaert support FFA members like her, means a lot to Liebhart. “It’s really awesome knowing people are supporting us, not only locally, but on a national level,” says Liebhart, who plans to invest the award money she received in her livestock operation. “I think it’s important for those of us in the younger generation of farmers to know we do have a lot of people who want us to succeed.” To learn more about Bekaert’s partnership with the FFA visit, fencing.bekaert.com.