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Van Manen hopes for future in ag education and FFA

Published: Tuesday, March 4, 2014 11:05 a.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, March 4, 2014 11:29 a.m. CST
(Ty Rushing/Newton Daily News)
Emily Van Manen, plays with a baby calf at the Van Manen Farm cowshed. Emily participated in FFA in high school and plans on transferring to Iowa State University to purse a degree in agriculture education.

This past summer, Emily Van Manen ended her tenure with the Lynnville-Sully High School FFA program as a winner.

Emily won Reserve High Point Exhibitor, reserve champion in Table Vegetable category and became champion in the Jumbo Vegetable category at the 2013 Iowa State Fair FFA Horticulture competition.

“I brought a lot of vegetables to the fair, just through FFA, like a tomato and zucchini, and I just happen to get high points,” Emily said. “I’ve been doing it since I was in fourth grade or so, my brother had helped out a lot.”

Although she’s competed in that category for a number of years, Emily still gets a thrill out of it every year.

“It was kind of exciting. It was something to look forward to every year,” Emily, who is know a college freshman, said.

Emily, 19, and a native of Kellogg, currently attends the University of Northern Iowa but plans to transfer to Iowa State University in the fall semester. She said she’s been on a farm her whole life, and this semester away has made her realize how much she loves the agriculture lifestyle.

“Right now I’m majoring in elementary education, but I’m thinking about changing to agriculture education,” Emily said. “I thought about it last year when I was deciding where to go, but I didn’t know if I wanted to teach high school students. But then after (being away), I decided that I missed ag and just being away this year made me realize how much I liked ag and how important it really was to me. I decided to change my major.”

Becoming an FFA teacher is one of the biggest opportunities for anyone with a degree in agriculture eduction, but Emily can see herself doing any number of things with her degree.

“With an ag ed degree, you can do more than just teach,” Emily said. “You could work at a commodity group, so I don’t know if I want to do that or teach. I just want to do something ag related. I haven’t really gotten that far yet.”

Although her high school FFA day’s ended once the state fair did, when Emily transfers to ISU, she can participate in the college FFA program. But she still has great memories of those high school day.

“I just liked the atmosphere of the fair,” Emily said. “Getting ready for it was a lot of fun. Like with pigs, it was just watching them grow, getting them ready for fair and working with them. I enjoyed working with them more than I actually did showing them.”