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For the second consecutive year, a Williston Middle School FFA student has won the coveted State Star Discovery Award.
Jerry Mills III and the other finalists, two of whom are also from Williston, were recognized at the 86th annual Florida FFA State Convention and Leadership Conference this July. Mills follows on the heels of last year's winner, Baylee Etheridge.
Mills began his Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) project when he was eight years old, feeding motherless calves from his family's farm. His father gave him these calves to raise and integrate back into their herd.
Each year, when those now grown cows calve, Mills gets a portion of the earnings. With those funds, he was able to purchase show calves, which he started to show and sell at age 8.
Mills joined Williston Middle FFA in sixth grade where he quickly became an active member and accepted leadership responsibilities. Mills’ SAE has developed into more than just showing and selling beef cattle, it includes a hay mowing business in which he profited enough funds to purchase his own tractor, he assists with more than 2,000 acres for farm land and actively participates in several FFA Career Development Events and community awareness activities.
Farming is a way of life for Mills, but he said he really enjoys the work he does.
"I just like messing with the animals," he said last week. Working on the farm, he's also at peace with nature.
"I love to farm," he wrote in his essay. "When I am not in school I am on a tractor. It is my favorite place to be."
Now a high school freshman, Mills has a nice little bank account from his labors which will either help pay his way into Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College to study pesticides and chemical resistance or make a nice down payment on his own farm.
Either way, agriculture is in his blood and he wouldn't have it any other way.
He is the son of Jerry and Desiree Mills and his advisor at WMS FFA was Natalie Couey.