Michael N. Brooks, 21, of Elmer, Salem County,
has been selected as one of FFA’s four American
Star Farmers who will compete for the title of Star
Farmer of America – the highest recognition in
the nation for an aspiring young farmer.
New Jersey’s last Star Farmer of America
was in 1930. Since then, Brooks is the only New Jersey
farmer to advance to the finals.
“Mike is an outstanding example of the future
of New Jersey agriculture,” said Agriculture
Secretary Charles M. Kuperus. “He has worked
hard to establish his own successful agricultural
operation, and he’s using the skills he learned
in FFA to expand his business. As we work to ensure
a strong agricultural industry, we need to equip
and encourage the next generation of agricultural
leaders. FFA is one way we do that. We are proud
that Mike has been selected for this honor, and to
have him as a young and upcoming farmer here in New
FFA’s American Star Farmer awards recognize
students who have developed outstanding agricultural
skill and competency through their career development
programs; demonstrated outstanding management skills;
earned the American Degree – the highest degree
an FFA member can achieve; and met other agricultural
education, scholarship and leadership requirements.
Each state FFA can nominate an American Star Farmer
candidate to the national organization. Those nominations
are reviewed by a national panel of judges who select
the top four finalists. As a finalist, Brooks receives
$1,000 from the National FFA Foundation and has the
opportunity to participate in an international experience
tour to Costa Rica. The other finalists are from
Kansas, Oklahoma and Minnesota.
A panel of industry judges will interview the finalists
and announce the Star Farmer of America on October
30th at the 2003 National FFA Convention in Louisville,
Kentucky. The winner will receive an additional $1,000
Brooks enrolled in agricultural education and became
an FFA member as a freshman in high school. Through
his FFA agricultural experience project, he began
growing a half-acre of strawberries on his parents’ farm.
He quickly transitioned to growing 10 acres of spinach
on contract for a local processor. He has been running
his own farming operation since 1997. Today, he grows
65 acres of process tomatoes, 40 acres of spring
spinach and 215 acres of field corn on land he rents.
He recently formed MNB Transport, LLC, an agricultural
Brooks continues to maintain a high level of participation
in FFA by serving as Woodstown FFA Alumni President
and as New Jersey FFA Foundation Board Donor Representative.
His plans include purchasing additional acreage,
expanding his operation and earning a bachelor’s
degree by the age of 26.
Brooks is the son of William and Diane Brooks.
Bill Brooks is a former member of the State Board
FFA is a national organization aimed at developing
students’ potential for premier leadership,
personal growth and career success through agricultural
education. The Department of Agriculture administers
the statewide program for FFA through its Office
of Agricultural Education.