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Minnesota West ag students excel in state, national PAS contests

Christian Kazemba placed first individually and as a team in the sheep contest at state and nationals.

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Minnesota West students competing in the National PAS contests were Zach Hamann (from left), Gabe Kooiker, Christian Kazemba, Julia Dykstra, Kaleb Schutte, Hunter Lien, Dylan Mouw, Elliot Scheaffer, Austin Wassman, Jacob Vogel, Zach Ruppert, Jacob Peterson and Dylan Platt. Missing from the photo is Elizabeth Erwin.
Special to The Globe
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WORTHINGTON — More than a dozen students from Minnesota West Community & Technical College’s Worthington campus competed in national Postsecondary Agricultural Student (PAS) Organization contests earlier this month in Bloomington, and one returned home with a national championship.

Christian Kazemba, a Minnesota West freshman from Round Lake, earned first place individual and first place team in the Sheep contest. The competition has students complete a general knowledge exam on the sheep industry, write a paper on the steps to create a feeder to finish sheep operation, and give a presentation on rising input costs in the sheep industry.

The paper and presentation are typically done as a team activity, but Kazemba — with no fellow Minnesota West students to team up with — did the work all on his own.

Kazemba placed first in the national contest, which was March 16-18, after earning first place in the state PAS contest Feb. 1-2 in Marshall. He and his family raised Southdown sheep in 4-H, and he was a Jackson County 4-H exhibitor who also showed sheep at regional contests.

“Christian is the first student I have had place in the Top 3 at the national level,” said Minnesota West Agriculture Instructor Jeff Rogers. “He is an individual that gives 110% when deciding to accomplish something. Certainly, it’s a deserving award for Christian and I am very proud of him.”

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Rogers is pleased with all of his students who participated in the contest. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the college was not able to participate in PAS contests for two years.

“(Students) didn’t have any experience with how the career program area contests were structured,” Rogers said. “We have a great bunch of students in our program and I couldn’t be happier for them.”

Minnesota West’s beef team — composed of Hunter Lien of Westbrook, Dylan Mouw of Sheldon, Iowa, and Elliot Scheaffer of Sheldon — placed first in the state contest. Mouw’s family is involved in cow-calf production, while Scheaffer’s family feeds cattle.

The swine team also garnered a first place finish at state. Team members included Gabe Kooiker, Rock Rapids, Iowa (second place individual); Julia Dykstra, Bigelow (fourth place individual) and Elizabeth Erwin, Lismore.

All three are from families who work in the swine industry. Kooiker’s family has a wean-to-finish operation, Dykstra’s mom works in her family-owned business New Fashion Pork, and Elizabeth’s family custom feeds feeder pigs.

“For the state contest, we had to figure out a sow ration for protein to figure out if they were getting enough,” said Kooiker.

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Minnesota West students hold up their certificates after a successful state contest in early February in Marshall. Earning the chance to compete at the National PAS contest were Hunter Lien (from left), Zach Hamann, Elliot Scheaffer, Jacob Peterson, Dylan Mouw, Dylan Platt, Elizabeth Erwin, Julia Dykstra, Austin Wassman, Kaleb Schutte, Christian Kazemba and Gabe Kooiker. Missing from the photo are Jacob Vogel and Zach Ruppert.
Special to The Globe

Minnesota West sent two crops teams to compete in the state and national PAS contests, with Kaleb Schutte of Sibley, Iowa, Jacob Vogel of Colton, South Dakota, and Zach Ruppert of Currie earning third place as a team. Vogel placed fifth high individual, while Schutte was ninth.

The second team earned fifth place as a team, and included Jacob Peterson of Madelia, Austin Wassman of Ocheyedan, Iowa, and Dylan Platt of Ashton, Iowa.

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Crops team members were assigned a paper about the use of cover crops, while their presentation was based on a scenario in which they needed to recommend cover crops for farmers.

Minnesota West also had one student, Zach Hamann of Inwood, Iowa, compete on the Equine team.

As of Monday, the National PAS contest had not released results other than the top three placings.

“I consider it a great success for the experience, effort and motivation to participate in the activities at this level,” Rogers said.

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Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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