State Star Farmer Pinedale's Laney Johnston claims FFA honor
Pinedale – At 17 years old, hard work and determination are two things that define Boulder resident Laney Johnston. As a member of the Sublette County 4-H and the Pinedale FFA, Laney has embraced her agricultural background and upbringing with gusto.
Her list of accomplishments is no small thing, either, and that list now includes the 2011 State Star Farmer award, which she took home from the Wyoming State FFA Convention in Cheyenne in early April.
From her early years in 4-H to her more recent accomplishments, Laney’s hard work has clearly paid off. She’s won numerous awards on competitive teams such as livestock, horse and vegetable judging teams, and has also been very successful in the show ring with beef and horse projects.
She claims as her shining moment her service on the 2009-2010 Wyoming State 4-H Leadership Team, where she says she learned how to truly define her leadership skills while making a positive influence on many 4-H members across the state.
Laney has taken what she has learned and is now using it in her current endeavors.
“The leadership skills I have learned though 4-H have been influential in my high school career, and I will continue to apply them in my future,” she says.
Within the FFA, Laney has served as a chapter officer, been very active in various community service projects and has worked for her chapter’s business, Blue and Gold Engraving.
Laney took her first step toward the State Star Farmer award by initially getting her State Degree and applying for the Regional Star, which is based off of her Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE). There are five state finalists, or Regional Stars, who are selected based upon their outstanding agricultural skills and success within their projects. Laney won the Regional Star, and from there the contest was decided at the state level and announced at the State FFA Convention.
Laney’s SAE included raising cattle and horses along with raising crops on her family’s farm. Growing up on her family’s ranch, Laney’s family had a big impact on her passion for agriculture. Following the trail blazed by her two older siblings, Laney also entered the cattle industry at age eight with her first heifer. From there she continued to grow her herd by keeping heifer calves and buying new cows each year.
Through showing her livestock, Laney also became interested in the club-calf aspect of the industry, and that led her to take out a loan to invest in four purebred Red Angus cows to further build her herd. Through artificial insemination Laney has now built her herd to 17 bred cows, 12 replacement females and one herd bull.
“I’ve learned the importance of honesty and responsibility, and it creates a sense of pride for what I have created,” she says of marketing high quality, guaranteed cattle.
Laney is also very active in her family’s haying and farming business, she breaks colts for use on the ranch and, somewhere in her spare time, she keeps a close eye on her financial records.
When asked about the driving force behind her passion for agriculture, Laney says it’s her father Tom and older brother Luke. Being an active young adult, Laney was sometimes away from her family’s operation and the old adage of “FFA: Father Farms Alone” held true, as her dad helped her out in those situations, caring for her animals and continuously giving her support and encouragement.
She says she has always looked up to her brother.
“My brother is my biggest inspiration – he is my hero. Ever since I was little I have always wanted to be just like him. He was the first of our family to get into the cattle and showing, and my sister and I have followed the path he has created,” says Laney.
When Luke was a senior he ran for State Star Farmer as well, however, he didn’t get it. Laney’s excitement for this award isn’t just for herself, but her family.
“Even though my name is on the award, I didn’t win it for myself. It was an award for my brother, my sister, my parents and me. I was proud I could win the award for my family and showcase the great things we have done with cattle, growing hay and riding horses,” she says.
This fall Laney plans to attend Casper College, majoring in education and pursuing her love of ski racing – Laney won her second state title in racing this year. After finishing her education, Laney would like to get her certification for high-level ski racing and teaching. She also hopes to keep some horses and a herd of cattle, both commercial and purebred.