Bronaugh, Mo., FFA member has been adding to his beef herd since he was 8 years old

Cole Diggins, Bronaugh, Mo., FFA member and a national FFA finalist winner, began his work as a beef producer at the age of 8.

Stray dogs attacked a bottle calf on his farm. His dad offered him ownership of the calf if he nursed it back to health. The calf survived and became a productive cow leading to the development of Cole’s current herd consisting of 34 breeding stock. Through his Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE), he learned business, veterinary, and communication skills, growing his herd through an exchange labor agreement with his family’s farm.

Being an advocate for beef production, Cole feels the most important thing is to insure a well-informed public concerning the issues facing the industry. The safety of our products, the health benefits of meat and the treatment of animals are hot topics that need addressed.

“We are agriculturalists of today, the ambassadors of our own fate and must continue to convey our passion and commitment to providing a safe and stable food supply,” he said.

Cole had the opportunity to debate the importance of the beef industry on the floor of the Hillsdale College Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship at the 2015 NRA Youth Education Summit in Washington, D.C.

Recognizing the real disconnect with agriculture, Cole designed and implemented a monthly program, “Where Does My Food Come From?” which teaches elementary age children about the origin of their food.

“Many are several generations removed from agriculture. They need to know cereal does not grow in a box, milk does not mysteriously appear in a carton, fruit and vegetables are not cultivated on supermarket shelves, and beef is an excellent source of high quality protein. I believe when they grow to understand the connection between the farmer and the food they eat, they have a greater respect for both,” he said.

Because of his passion for agriculture, and beef production in particular, Cole began the lengthy process of competing for FFA Awards as a venue to spread the truth. He climbed to the top to be named a national finalist for the National FFA Proficiency Award in Beef Production Entrepreneurship. Cole was one of only four people from around the country chosen to compete for this award at the national finals held in October during the 90th National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis, Ind.

Cole became eligible for the national award after winning the Missouri State FFA Beef Entrepreneurship competition earlier this year.

As a state winner, Cole completed a new 24-page application for the national competition. Only 0.00026 percent of the entire National FFA membership is selected as top four proficiency finalists. Cole was the first such national finalist for the Bronaugh FFA Chapter.

Each finalist attended a judge’s luncheon Oct. 26, prior to the beginning of judging. Each conducted a 2-minute introduction describing their SAE, followed by a 15-minute interview designed to clarify any questions the judges might have from their respective applications. There were 13 judges for the Beef Entrepreneurship Proficiency. On Oct. 27, each finalist was accompanied on stage by their advisor, in Cole’s case, Travis Wait, agriculture education and FFA Adviser Bronaugh High School. The winner in each proficiency category was announced at that time. Although Cole did not win the top spot, he is proud of his accomplishments.

Cole’s many awards include winning the National FFA Agriscience Environmental Services/Natural Resource Systems Division I award on stage at National FFA Convention in 2013 at Louisville, and a National Division II Gold rating for his performance in 2015. It is an extremely rare feat to receive national awards in multiple SAE areas. Cole has received a variety of other awards in the FFA including being named the Missouri FFA State Star in Agriscience in April 2016. He finished his FFA career by obtaining his American FFA Degree at the convention.

Now a sophomore at the University of Missouri studying environmental science with an emphasis in soil resource management, Cole serves on the Mizzou Collegiate FFA officer team.

Cole attended the Agriculture Future of America (AFA) Leaders in Kansas City immediately after the National FFA Convention. He was sponsored by AFA for the second of a four-track program designed as a leader development and networking opportunity for college men and women who are preparing for careers in agriculture and food-related fields.

Recently named a Litton Scholar at the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and National Resource, Cole is also a member of Vernon County Cattlemen’s Association, Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, and MU Collegiate Farm Bureau. His parents are David and Laura Diggins of Moundville, Mo.

Cole’s goal is “to be one of the individuals who develop products and identify solutions which will feed the rapidly growing world population.”


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