Abby Meyer of Seneca, Mo., says her experience with FFA helped her start her own business
On the corner of Spring and Washington – according to Abby Meyer, that is where people know they can find her every fall in downtown Neosho, Missouri.
Abby sets up shop with an array of mums ready for dispersal. Although people initially come to Abby for her mums, they walk away with far more than flowers.
As Abby shared her story, that joy for life revealed itself and within minutes Abby explained how she got started in FFA, how her mum business developed, and how she believes her experiences in agriculture will impact her future career.
Becoming an FFA member
Even though Abby has a family background in agriculture, she said she had not planned on being in FFA, yet she somehow found herself thrown into an ag class her eighth-grade year.
Abby began her FFA career raising hogs, assuring Angel Roller, her Seneca FFA advisor, she would not be involved in any public speaking.
“I walked in my freshman year and told my ag teacher I would never, ever do a contest I would have to talk or give reasons in because I didn’t want to do public speaking,” Abby recalled with a laugh.
Now, five years and a successful entrepreneurship effort later Abby is serving as an FFA officer and competing on the state level.
“In the Seneca FFA Chapter, I went from absolutely nothing, to interviewing for an office as a junior, to growing mums for a year, to being elected the chapter president,” Abby said. “I became a two-time president as well as the Area 11 Parliamentarian.”
Growing mums was a big factor in her development as an individual and as an FFA member.
Acquiring a Mum Business
When Abby purchased the mum portion of her uncle’s landscaping business, Abby said she had no intention of using it as an FFA project.
“In exchange I gave him 50 full grown mums for the mats and irrigation lines,” Abby said.
“In all honesty, I wasn’t thinking of my SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience) at the time. I had my hogs, but I wasn’t that involved in ag,” Abby said. “When I did get the business and realized, ‘Hey, there’s potential in this, and I can take it to bigger things.’ I decided to use it as my SAE.”
Starting out with 350 mums, Abby has grown her business the last three years to 600 mums and has expanded her clientele base significantly.
“It’s kind of surprising how fast the word spreads,” Abby said. “It makes sense in our small town of Seneca, but when you start getting out into bigger cities like Neosho and Joplin, that’s pretty cool.”
With her business growth, Abby has been rewarded for her hard work, placing second in the Area 11 SAE Contest her first business year. From there, Abby increased the number of mums she was growing, and entered her SAE in nursery operations where she placed first in Area 11 and second in the state.
Next year, Abby said she plans to enter her SAE in the specialty crop division with the hope of winning state and advancing to nationals.
Her favorite part is selling her mums because of the customer interaction she enjoys.
“I’ve been able to talk to and meet several new people,” Abby said with a smile. “It’s kind of neat to have a person I’ve never met before say, ‘Oh so-and-so said you were here.’”
Having that customer experience will no doubt benefit Abby as she pursues a degree in nursing after graduation.
Abby plans on attending Crowder College in Neosho to pursue nursing while continuing her mum business.
“I’ve learned how to deal with people,” Abby said. “Working in the nursing field you’re going to have those same people, but having this at a younger age will help me work with them better.”
Once Abby graduates with a degree in nursing, she said she hopes to get a degree in horticulture to expand her work with plants. However, Abby is looking at opportunities to use her mum business as a way to help pay for college or as a way for her brother to get a start in his FFA project.
“Depending on how busy I am with school, my brother Ty will be looking for an SAE soon, and I may pass it onto him,” Abby said.
Before college comes around for Abby she has one more year of high school FFA to complete, and if her previous experience is any indication she will finish out strong.
“At the end of the year, when you’re closing out your record books and you start filling out your proficiencies, and you’re winning left and right, left and right, and you start taking it higher and higher up, and you’re standing on stage in front of thousands of people, and you hear your name in second place, it’s a crazy experience,” Abby said. “It happens so suddenly you don’t even realize it, and all you can think about is, ‘Wow! The top hundred in the nation.’”