CULLOM, Ill. — Tyler Loschen has built his FFA projects from
the ground up.
“Probably the most unique aspect about my project is I come
from an agricultural family, but I didn’t grow up on a family farm,” said
Loschen who has been selected as one of four finalists for the American Star
This award will be presented during the National FFA
Convention, set for Oct. 30 to Nov. 2 in Louisville, Ky.
The three additional finalists for the American Star Farmer
award include: Tyler Vathauer: Blue
Valley FFA, Kansas ; Tyler Linneman: Keytesville FFA, Missouri ; and Vance Zacharias: Enderlin
FFA, North Dakota .
“Both my grandparents farm, but they live at least 40 miles
away, so I didn’t have immediate family close to me that I could tie into,”
explained Loschen, who is a member of the Tri-Point FFA Chapter.
However, his parents, Gary and Diana Loschen, owned 80 acres
of farmland. His mother also is his FFA adviser.
“Previously, it was cash-rented, but when I got to high
school, my parents decided to farm it and they let me rent 20 acres to start my
project,” he said. “And from there, a neighbor landlord was eager to help a
young farmer get started, so I picked up some additional ground.”
Today, Loschen farms around 400 acres, growing corn,
soybeans and alfalfa.
“I purchased 40 acres at a public auction last winter,” he
In addition, Loschen owns a registered Simmental cow-calf
herd and a farrow-to-finish swine operation in partnership with his sister, Amy.
“We typically farrow 20 to 30 litters per year, and we have
Durocs, Yorks, Hamps and crosses,” he said.
“Our main goal is to market animals through the showring by
either showing them or selling them to other junior exhibitors,” he added. “With
a small operation, we try to capitalize on a premium to be profitable.”
Loschen was inspired to work toward achieving the star award
from Illinois FFA member Andrew Bowman, the 2006 American Star Farmer.
“Andrew came and spoke to us at school, and he told me how
he got started,” Loschen said. “I thought it would be really neat to do
something like that, so I worked with my adviser and I was fortunate to have
some growth in my projects.”
“It is gratifying to see all the years of hard work pay off,
“To be recognized as a finalist is a huge accomplishment,
and it’s very exciting,” he added.
Loschen is not quite sure what to expect when he meets the
other American Star Farmer finalists.
“They are certainly going to be young entrepreneurs that are
doing an excellent job,” he said. “It will be neat to meet them and learn about
The FFA member held several offices as a member of the
Tri-Point FFA Chapter, and he was heavily involved in livestock judging.
“I attended Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield on
a full-ride livestock judging scholarship,” he said. “After completing the
two-year transfer program, I transferred to the U of I, and currently I’m on the
U of I livestock judging team.”
This will not be the first time Loschen travels to the
National FFA Convention as a finalist for a major award.
“I am a two-time national proficiency winner in diversified
crop production and diversified agriculture,” he noted.
In 2010, the Tri-Point FFA member won a trip to Costa Rica.
“That was a really neat experience to see the way ag works
in a different part of the world,” he said.
“Here we’re focused on corn and soybeans, and in Costa Rica
there is a lot of fruit production, especially pineapple,” he added. “The fresh
pineapple out of the field is remarkable compared to what it is here. I never
will look at pineapple the same.”
In the summer of 2012, Loschen interned with Beck’s Hybrids.
“I worked a lot with the practical farm research partners,
and we did a lot of fungicide and late application of nitrogen tests,” he said.
“It was a great experience, and I’ve already used things I learned to make
better management decisions this past year.”
This past summer, Loschen worked with Dow AgroSciences as a
Mycogen Seeds sales intern.
“I was fortunate to receive a full-time opportunity with
them when I graduate,” he said. “In June, I will be part of the Mycogen sales
Loschen, 22, is a senior at the U of I, where he will
complete his bachelor’s degree with a major in farm management and a minor in
animal science in May 2014.
After graduation, he will be based close to home with his
“Eventually, my goal is to farm full-time, but the acreage
is not there for me right now,” he said. “This sales position has a flexible
schedule, so it meets my needs to still be able to farm.”