Nationals await star finalist from South Dakota

South Dakota FFA Foundation
Farm Forum

Cole Schock, a McCook Central FFA member from Salem, S.D., is an American Star in Agricultural Placement finalist.

The American Star Awards are the FFA’s highest achievement awards and represent the best of the best among thousands of American FFA degree recipients. The award recognizes FFA members who have developed outstanding agricultural skills and competencies through the completion of a supervised agricultural experience program. The winner will be announced during the fourth session of the Virtual 93rd National FFA Convention & Expo on Oct. 28, which starts at 6 p.m. CDT.

Schock’s SAE began at Schock’s Dairy in 2012, where he worked until he started as an assistant to a South Dakota Select Sires representative in 2018. He went to work with Select Sires because he knew he wanted to continue to be involved with dairy. He earned his A.I. certificate in 2018, attended a one-month training session in Colorado, and then worked as a relief A.I. technician in South Dakota and Minnesota. In May 2019, he became a full-time A.I. service technician in north-central Colorado, and also began working at Mile High Dairy in Mead, Colo. He worked both of these jobs until May 2020, when he returned to the family farm and continues as a Select Sires A.I. technician.

Schock’s lifelong goal is to have his own dairy farm, but he recognizes the challenge of pursuing this dream, so he decided beginning a career in the dairy industry would be a good first step. Schock says his favorite part is helping customers solve reproductive problems in their operations.

“If I had to choose a least favorite part,” Shock said, “I would say the weather. Not all the weather conditions I’ve worked in are pleasant, like the extreme heat of Colorado summers and the crazy South Dakota winters.”

The most challenging part for Schock was working through the increasingly diverse languages and cultures barriers of the agricultural workforce. Many employees of his Select Sires clients and coworkers at Mile High Dairy spoke little or no English. They struggled to communicate with one another, but eventually learned to show one another what they were trying to say. He has grown more knowledgeable of their language and picked up phrases that make understanding possible.

Schock is excited to represent South Dakota FFA as an American Star in Agriculture Placement finalist, showcasing the work he put into his SAE. As a finalist, Schock recorded and submitted a summary of his SAE and answers to several questions. National FFA has a panel of judges selecting the winner.

Cole Schock