University of Wisconsin-River Falls

UW-RF Home > University Communications Home > This Month's News Releases

University Communications

For more information contact or

Student Wins National FFA Award

By Kendra Knutson
UWRF University Communications

NOV. 3, 2006--A University of Wisconsin-River Falls freshman received national winner recognition on her proficiency award at the National FFA Convention held Oct. 25-28, 2006.

Amy Robak, a conservation major from Foley, Minn., and who is majoring in conservation with a minor in soils and agronomy, was named the national winner in the area of Environmental Science and Natural Resource Entrepreneurship-Placement.  

This award was presented to Robak because of her progress within the past two years working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) within the Benton County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). In these two short years, Robak went from overshadowing others, sorting papers and filing to working one-on-one with landowners developing nutrient management plans.  

Robak said her FFA advisor, Alan Stemper, realized her passion for conservation and pushed her toward this career option. The first six months, Robak served as a volunteer for the SWCD, to see if she enjoyed the work.

"I loved it," she said. In fact, she loved it so much that she accepted an offer to become a full-time employee.  

Two years later, besides working with land owners, Robak has used Arc-view software to lay out different conservation practices, performed irrigation pivot checks, taken soil and manure samples, scouted crops, performed tree flagging, has worked on planning and installing new shelterbelts and evaluated drainage ditches.  

Robak attributes much of her success to growing up on a dairy farm. "I think it's the concept of experiencing it, I've seen what conservation tillage can do," said Robak. She feels this makes the landowners more comfortable with her plans. Robak also wants "to get it done in a timely manner," she said, which is another benefit growing up on a farm has given her.  

Robak was awarded $1000, which she will use for school. Besides the money she has received national recognition status. "My [FFA] advisor keeps getting phone calls from magazines and newspapers wanting to do stories," said Robak.   

She is working to start a new proficiency in the Emerging Agriculture Technology-Placement based on the research of her nutrient management plans. Robak would also like to apply for the Star in Agri-Business Award based on her NRCS employment.  

She will work with the NRCS over semester break, spring break, then full-time in the summer. Robak also wants to work in parts of northern and southern Minnesota to get experience with different types of land.  

Robak's advisor at UWRF is Eric Sanden, professor in the plant and earth science department. After college she hopes for a career with the NRCS or someday as a Minnesota state conservationist.


Last updated: Thursday, 22-Apr-2010 16:07:45 Central Daylight Time


University of Wisconsin - River Falls
410 South Third Street River Falls, WI USA 54022-5001 (715)425-3911
Copyright © 1995-2009 University of Wisconsin-River Falls