Lexington, Ky. (Thursday, June 9, 2016/Kentucky FFA Association) James Clay Ballinger of the Rockcastle County FFA was named the State Star Farmer at the Kentucky FFA State Convention today in Lexington. Ballinger was selected from among 444 State FFA Degree candidates for the organizations most prestigious award. James Clay is the first Kentucky FFA Association Star from the Rockcastle County FFA Chapter.
According to State FFA Advisor Brandon Davis, the Star Farmer Award represents a huge achievement. “The Star Farmer award is given to the member with the most outstanding Supervised Agricultural Experience Program in the state. It represents four years of planning, hard work, and commitment to growth.” Davis went on to say that the selection process is designed to favor students who have shown growth and progress during their high school careers. The award represents much more than farming, however, according to Davis. “The Star Farmer award also takes into account the FFA members involvement in FFA, scholastic achievements, and involvement in the school and community.”
Coming from a family who farms, James Clay Ballinger was motivated to begin a supervised agricultural experience (SAE) project in agriculture. James Clay’s supervised agricultural experience program involves his ownership and management of a herd of registered Hereford cattle, which is based out of his family farm in Three Links, Kentucky. Since his freshman year he has grown his herd from 10 to 17 cows and also has an assortment of bulls and calves. His knowledge of cattle genetics and marketing have heled ensure the profitability of his operation. James Clay has incorporated the Eastern Kentucky Integrated Reproductive Management Program through the University of Kentucky (UK) into his SAE. This program has allowed him to utilize the latest artificial insemination protocol to close his calving window and utilize some of the best show genetics available. He worked closely with University of Kentucky Extension Specialist, Dr. Les Anderson, as well as Rockcastle County’s Agriculture Extension Agent, Tom Mills, to plan and conduct this program. Experience gained from this program has contributed to a 100% pregnancy rate in his beef herd. In addition, James Clay has developed a website to help market his cattle to other Hereford producers across the state and nation. According to James Clay, “I have learned a great deal over span of my project, and continue learning each and every day. My ultimate goal for the future is to continue learning and widening my understanding about cattle in order to take on full responsibility for a farm of my own after I complete my SAE project.”
James Clay served as the president of the Rockcastle County FFA and the Kentucky River Region FFA. He has participated in various contests including extemporaneous public speaking, small engines, record keeping, and parliamentary procedure. He is a member of the Climax Christian Church where he is involved with the youth group, leads the communion meditation, and assists with technology. He was a member of the 4-H Land Judging Team and was a member of various clubs and organizations within the high school.
James Clay is the son of James and Carrie Ballinger. He plans to attend Eastern Kentucky University in the fall and major in engineering. Upon graduation James Clay hopes to enter into a career in Biosystems/Agricultural Engineering, while owning and operating his own farm.
Kentucky FFA is an organization of students involved in agricultural education. Kentucky FFA has over 15,000 members across the state and the organizations mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of members by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education.