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Reaping the benefits
Locals fare well at state convention
Warren County High School FFA members attending the state convention and earning honors are, first row from left, Chattum Jennings, Ty Breedlove, Holden Carter and Mitchell Woodlee. Back row, Austin Barry, Martin Grissom, Samantha David, Marlie Montandon, Dalton Criddle, Mariana Ruiz and Parker Hildreth. Unavailable for photo are Max Gallagher, Eli Lance, Brianna Cooke, Matt Savage, Sam Pack, Mackenzie Posthumus and Chelsea Randolph.

Warren County High School's FFA Chapter was represented well at the recent Tennessee State FFA Convention held in Gatlinburg.
Outstanding member Martin Grissom was named State Star Farmer, making the second year that a Warren County member has earned the high award. Austin Barry was recognized as State Star in Placement at the convention.
Grissom is a WCHS senior, and is the son of Mike and Holly Grissom of Rock Island, where they own and operate a fourthgeneration family farm consisting of approximately 500 acres.
On his own farm, MG Farms, he operates, raises and maintains a variety of agricultural products to sell and donate within his community, as well as to feed his livestock. He cultivates a plethora of edible crops including corn, squash, cucumbers, okra, peppers, cabbage and melons. On a larger scale, he grows wheat, soybeans and hay. He also grows nursery stock, raises livestock, has laying hens for egg production, and keeps bees for honey production and pollination. He utilizes his farm’s newly opened store, farmer’s markets, a personal roadside stand, and his high school’s FFA Farmer’s Market to reap the rewards of his toil.
All management tasks, responsibilities, and financial obligations of Martin’s Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) fall on his shoulders. MG Farms has developed into such a sustainable income that Martin uses his profits to purchase items to maintain, expand, and improve his agricultural endeavors.
From both his SAE and his experience at the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Agricultural Sciences last year, he has decided to major in agribusiness at the University of Tennessee at Martin this fall. With his degree, he plans to continue to operate MG Farms and work to make it a successful operation for years to come.
Of all the things Grissom has accomplished, he believes the most rewarding experiences are when he is able to serve and help others in his community. Through his farming, he is able to donate a great amount of produce items to elderly and less fortunate people at his church and within his community. Since he never wastes anything he grows, when he sees or hears of someone in need, he is compelled to help in any way he can.
Austin Barry is a senior at WCHS and has been an active member of his FFA chapter since his freshman year. He currently serves as President of the Warren County FFA Chapter as well as Middle Region FFA Sentinel. At the convention he was awarded the Middle Tennessee Star in Placement honor.
Barry has been a member of the region-winning dairy judging team which competed at the state contest. He has been a region finalist in job interview at the career development event,  and was a region winner the past two years in the dairy production placement proficiency area.
Austin’s SAE Program is based around working on his grandparent’s dairy farm. Billings Family Dairy farm, located in the Centertown community, has been in the family for more than three generations. From an early age, he would spend his afternoons after school and summer days helping his Uncle Keith with chores on the farm.  It began with simple tasks, such as feeding the bottle calves and helping clean up the milking barn.  As he got older, his chores increased to helping with harvesting the hay, bush hogging, feeding hay, and helping milk the cows.
Each year, Austin’s family’s farm includes over 900 acres of row crops, including wheat, soybeans, and corn.  In addition, the farm harvests corn silage and hay for the cattle herd.  
Some of the crop is stored and fed on the dairy, while the rest is sold to local grain elevators 
Due to the declining health of his grandfather over the past few years, Austin’s responsibilities have increased on the farm.  He is now instrumental in the overall management of the dairy herd.  Along with his uncle, Barry helps with decision making and employee management. He has embraced the challenge of managing a working dairy farm and has been positioning himself to become more involved after he finishes his college education.
When he is not working on the farm or attending FFA events, he is involved in his church, school and community.  Barry attends Bratcher’s Crossroads Free Methodist Church. He is a member of National Honor Society, Excalibur Science Club, National High School Scholars Society and the Beta Club.
Another of his passions is his involvement with the 4-H Club. Barry has been a Warren County 4-H member for 8 years. He has participated in many community service and leadership activities at the county, state and national levels.  
He is the son of Gena Barry and Michael Barry. His grandparents are Rachel and Levin Billings, and Kay and Charles Barry of Lebanon.
Other awards presented to Warren County youth included Clay Prater’s first-place honor in State Swine Proficiency, as well as the chapter winning a second as the top fruit selling chapter and receiving the state gold award in the PLOW (passing literacy onward) category. The group has 18 State FFA Degree recipients. 
WCHS agriculture education teacher and FFA advisor Danielle Smith is extremely proud of all the students and their dedication.
“I have had the privilege to watch both of these young gentlemen grow into the hardworking young men they are today.  From a young age they had a deep-rooted love and passion for agriculture that has made them stand out in the State of Tennessee,” said Smith.