Elmwood grad is ‘star farmer’


WAYNE – Zane Hagemeyer has turned a love of cattle into a business, and that business may earn him national recognition.

The 2021 Elmwood High School graduate is one of four finalists for an FFA American Star Farmer award.

Hagemeyer grew up in a family that farms, but he took a path different from the grain farming done by his dad and brother.

Since the age of 13, Hagemeyer has operated and financed his own beef cattle operation and has been running his business full time since graduating.

“They’re awesome,” he said about the animal. “I really enjoy cattle and am passionate about the beef industry.”

The American Star Farmer is awarded to the FFA member that demonstrates the top production agriculture supervised agricultural experience in the nation.

In order to be considered, Hagemeyer had to fill out a lengthy application based on his SAE, which is a required activity in FFA.

His project was and continues to be raising beef cattle and custom feeding cattle for a local farmer.

Hagemeyer described what he does as “backgrounding” beef production, a process that maximizes the use of forages to get a calf off to pasture to be finished before shipping to slaughter.

In layman’s terms, he uses a combination of forage, like pasture and grains, in order to increase the calf’s weight before it is placed in a feedlot.

Hagemeyer said he feeds his herd a lot of clover, which he buys, and triticale, which he grows. Triticale is a hybrid of wheat and rye.

“Cattle don’t graze at all. Everything is in barns,” he said.

Hagemeyer had to keep records for his SAE project, including hours worked, finances and community service.

He said doing so wasn’t that difficult as he was already keeping records by the time he started his SAE as a freshman at Elmwood.

“You have to make sure you have a record for every transaction done … the same thing you have to do for running a business,” Hagemeyer said.

Other requirements for the award include demonstrating top management skills; completing key agricultural education, scholastic and leadership requirements; and earning an American FFA Degree, the organization’s highest level of student accomplishment.

The application was evaluated, and the top candidates were selected as finalists.

The person with the best application and interview will be selected as the winner. Interviews were done via Zoom in August.

“I think it went pretty well. I guess we’ll find out at convention,” Hagemeyer said.

Winners will be announced at the National FFA Convention, held in Indianapolis in October.

The National FFA Foundation provides $2,000, a plaque and a medal to the winner. The three runners up each receive $1,000 and a plaque.

Considered the highest recognition in the nation for an aspiring young farmer, the award recognizes achievement in both career and leadership development.

Hagemeyer said he will buy a couple head of cattle with his winnings.

His herd is up to 150 head, which is currently kept on family property but will soon move to a barn he is building elsewhere.

Elmwood FFA adviser Krysteena Lawrence encouraged him to apply for the award.

“I definitely wouldn’t have applied if it wasn’t for her,” he said.

Lawrence said that Hagemeyer used the template for a state beef production entrepreneur proficiency award to apply for the national award.

“Let’s give it a shot and see how your project compares to others,” Lawrence said she told him.

Incidentally, he won first place for that state award, she said.

“To me, you don’t see a kid doing all those things at a young age,” Lawrence said about Hagemeyer self-funding his business.

She said it is a great accomplishment

“The national FFA organization has over 800,000 members all across the country and a student from Elmwood FFA here in Ohio was selected as a finalist for a national award. This is amazing for our school and the state of Ohio,” Lawrence said in an email.

“He’s a very hard-working kid,” she said.

Hagemeyer attributed his success to others, particularly his friends and family “for giving me a hand and helping me with what I do.”

He doesn’t plan to let the dust settle on his dreams, which are to “continue to grow the business by building cattle barns and increasing the number of cattle I feed.”

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