Worthington FFA officer eager to learn all facets of agriculture industry
“I love any class that is hands-on learning. I think I learn better. All the ag teachers are great teachers — they’ll go out of their way to help a student succeed."
WORTHINGTON — Kaden Teerink lives on an acreage just a few miles north of Worthington, and while his family doesn’t grow crops or livestock, that hasn’t stopped him from delving deeply into the agricultural industry.
Now a senior at Worthington High School, the four-year member of the Worthington FFA chapter intends to pursue a degree in Agriculture Systems Technology from South Dakota State University. Teerink’s ultimate goal is to work in tractor and equipment sales.
His introduction to agriculture began at the young age of 2 or 3, when his grandpa introduced him to the farmer that grew crops around their acreage.
“All the farmers were friends with my grandpa, and they knew I liked farm equipment,” Teerink recalled. “I remember riding in the farm implements. I was that kid that probably asked a million questions — I’m glad I did, though.”
When he wasn’t riding along with a farmer, Teerink, the son of Jesse and Dawn Teerink, was playing farm at home with his toy tractors — a mix of both red (Case-IH) and green (John Deere).
“If someone wanted to play farming with me, (the field work) had to be all in a straight line,” Teerink shared with a grin. “If I had to use an excavator, I’d grab a shovel and dig a little hole.”
He has since traded in his toy tractors — or rather, given them to his younger brother, Carter — and drives the real deal. For Tractor Day during Ag Week last fall, Teerink drove an 8335 R John Deere, on loan from his current employers, Tim and Adam Blume.
Now vice president of the Worthington FFA — he was the officer-at-large as a junior — Teerink is involved in a myriad of FFA activities. He’s in his fourth year on the chapter’s Fish and Wildlife Career Development Team, and his Supervised Agricultural Experience includes everything from working with grain and livestock farmers, to a two-time internship with Titan Machinery.
A helping (farm)hand
Just before the COVID-19 pandemic, Teerink was encouraged by his ag teacher to job shadow someone in an ag-related career. He connected with a rural Brewster crop farmer and, by the end of the day, received a job offer.
“When COVID hit and classes were online, I was able to do my classes and then go to the farm and work,” Teerink said of the spring of 2020. “I was able to do my ag classes in the tractor — listen to Mr. Tripp and communicate with the class without taking my hands off the steering wheel.”
The experience he gained working with crop farmer Dave Dieter and hog producer Darren Bauman ultimately led to a job with the Blumes, who grow crops and cattle west of Worthington.
He still works for the Blumes when he’s able, but his current job is with Titan Machinery in Worthington, where he’s in the midst of his second three-month internship. His first internship with the Case-IH dealership was as a high school junior.
“(I’m getting) used to working in a business with equipment sales,” Teerink said. “That also helped lead me to wanting to work in sales.
“(Titan) is really great with working with my schedule. They try giving me experience in every department. I started out helping in the parts department … then I was asked to help in the shop. My first big project was helping rebuild a planter.”
Once spring fieldwork is about to begin, Teerink will return to work with the Blumes.
Passion for the outdoors
Teerink is one of two seniors on the chapter’s Fish and Wildlife CDE team this year. They will compete in early March in the regional contest in hopes of winning another trip to the State FFA Convention in late April. If they do, it will be a three-peat for Teerink, whose freshman year saw the cancellation of the state convention due to COVID-19, an online contest in 2021, and an in-person contest in 2022.
As a freshman, Teerink attended FFA Greenhand Day in Windom, where different stations promoted CDE options. WHS FFA Advisor Matt Tripp organized the fish and wildlife CDE display, including numerous mounts.
“I was able to name all of the mounts,” Teerink recalled. That’s when Tripp told him he would be on the Fish and Wildlife CDE team.
“I hunt and fish,” Teerink said, and the same is true for his teammates. “We love the outdoors — we hunt different things, and some are the same.”
The team plans its first practice before Christmas break, and then meets one morning a week from January until the regional contest to study animals and take practice quizzes with random ID’s prepared by Tripp.
The state contest consists of an animal ID portion and two quizzes.
When it came time to enroll in freshman-level classes, Teerink said there was no doubt about enrolling in ag courses and joining the FFA.
“I just knew it would be something I could fit in with and make new friends that way,” he said. “I love any class that is hands-on learning. I think I learn better. All the ag teachers are great teachers — they’ll go out of their way to help a student succeed. That’s made my FFA career a lot nicer.”
This year, in addition to taking ag classes through the high school, he’s enrolled in Introduction to Horticulture, a college-level class taught in the high school, but with credit. The class is in the spring quarter.
Also, his volunteerism with the Worthington FFA Chapter in seeding a pollinator plot has led to becoming a board member of Nobles County Pheasants Forever.
While he will leave for SDSU later this summer, he hopes to return to his Worthington roots for a career in the ag industry.
“I like this area,” he said. “There’s plenty of dealerships in the area to eventually work for.”
Teerink said if it wasn’t for farmers willing to take the time to work with him, he wouldn’t have had any of the experiences he’s gained in agriculture.
“Thank you to all the farmers that I’ve been able to work with the past few years and the ag teachers for helping me pursue my interest in agriculture,” he said.