Austin Taylor is your typical high school senior in many ways. He’s a multi-sport athlete, attends school events, rides his dirt bike and contributes to the everyday grind a kid his age experiences. What sets him apart is that fact he takes on a different role when he's at home.
Austin is what many would consider a “good old-fashioned farm kid.” In the age of unlimited technology and so many distractions an average kid will face from day to day, Austin chooses to help out at his family’s farm aside from being a busy high school student. His family entrusts him in maintaining and operating expensive farm equipment, applying pesticides, fertilizing, seeding, and harvesting. This is an opportunity fewer and fewer kids his age get to experience.
At the Black Butte Grain, Inc., Austin and his family grow nearly 11,000 acres of winter wheat, spring wheat and also malt barley. He takes an active role in the entire process from start to finish. Austin's great-great father, Carl Ekholt homesteaded the land. The Taylor's are the fourth generation to farm there.
At the 87th annual Montana State FFA Convention, hosted by Great Falls at the State Fairgrounds this past week, Austin was recognized for his efforts. Along with 202 of his FFA peers from across the Treasure State, Austin received his Montana State Degree. In order to receive the degree; one must work over 300 hours, earn or invest $1000, contribute 25 community service hours, pass 360 hours of agriculture class, compete in at least five Career Development Events (CDEs) above the chapter level, maintain a 2.0 GPA and earn the greenhand and chapter degrees from the Shelby FFA Chapter. Austin is the first FFA member from Shelby to receive this degree in many years.
Austin is the son of Chad and Melody Taylor. He has two sisters, Emma and Jacinda. Both parents were in attendance at the State Degree dinner and reception on Friday to see Austin receive his degree. Along with the Montana State FFA Officers, sponsors and guests; Senator Steve Daines was in attendance and spoke to the crowd. Sen. Daines congratulated the kids on their accomplishments and encouraged them to be excited about agriculture in Montana. Fresh back from a trip to Washington D.C., Sen. Daines mentioned that work was being done in D.C. to make it easier for farmers and for future generations. He felt that having Ryan Zinke as the new Secretary of Interior and former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue as the US Secretary of Agriculture, the farming sector in Montana and the US is in good hands. Austin was greeted on stage by Sen. Daines and offered him some words of encouragement as he was handed his degree.
While a member of the Shelby FFA Chapter, Austin has participated in many of the diverse offerings the chapter provides. He has attended John Deere Days in Bozeman; district and state CDEs in agricultural mechanics, food science, and farm business management. He has participated in food drives, donkey basketball, fundraisers, leadership seminars, classroom activities, and even attended the National FFA Convention this past fall in Indianapolis, IN. Austin currently serves as the chapter’s Student Advisor and helps the younger members understand the importance of FFA. In addition to his everyday agriculture classes, you can find Austin in the shop constructing projects for the school and his farm when he has free time. His future plans are to possibly attend a two-year college and then return to the farm and become the fifth generation to farm the land.