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Tanner Burge won the state champion proficiency award in swine production entrepreneurship at Nebraska State FFA. 

Burge FFA State Champion

On Thursday, April 4, Perkins County Schools Senior Tanner Burge interviewed for a proficiency award in Lincoln at Nebraska State FFA. 

Proficiency awards recognize skill and knowledge development in FFA through a Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE). In agriculture’s three circle model, the SAE is all about getting the hands-on experience to develop skills into a career. 

All of Burge’s hard work has led to growth in his skills and knowledge and eventually to state championship in the area of swine production entrepreneurship. This means that he will get to interview again to compete at nationals.

Burge’s SAE project is all about show pigs. “For my SAE project, I raise show pigs. I started with eight sows in 2015 and now I have over 25 sows. I have had four annual spring show pig sales where I sell show pigs to 4-H and FFA kids. I breed all of my sows using artificial insemination. I farrow my sows in December-January and July-August. 

“The pigs that are born in December - January are mainly sold on my spring sale and the ones born in July-August are mainly used for feeder/butcher hogs and replacement gilts. The butcher hogs are mainly sold to local people and are taken to local butcher shops,” he said.

The purpose of the SAE is to develop agricultural careers. As for Burge, he plans on using his project as a basis for what he wants to do later in life. 

“I want to keep raising show pigs and take it to the next step. After college, I want to grow my sow herd more and start marketing my pigs all across the country.” 

The SAE is also a learning experience. Burge has learned a great deal during his project. He learned about genetics and pig nutrition all thanks to the hands-on experience from his project. He also learned via YouTube how to collect and extend raw boar semen. 

He had very good success when he put this into practice, and that was the most interesting part about it for him. 

Burge’s SAE has been all about hard work. Just a few examples include, “Remodeling my Dad’s old 90x30 hog building, building pens, buying breeding stock from many different breeders around the country, and tons of daily chores and work that goes with raising show pigs,” he said. 

Burge’s SAE has been about more than just doing a project. It has become a lifestyle. The hard work and sweat have all come to pay off for Burge in the form of a state championship and a future career.

FFA Adviser Doug Babbitt said in the 11 years of being at Perkins County Schools, James McArtor is the only other student to achieve the state champion proficiency honor, which was in grain production entrepreneurship in 2016. 

Burge was also among five Perkins County students to receive FFA state degrees. Click here to read story. 

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