In small-town Northwest Ohio, the rural and agricultural communities stand tall amongst most organizations. In Fayette, the FFA program continues to be a fundamental aspect of everyday living for a large majority of its students and residents. This year Emilie Keiser, a junior at Fayette High School, received the American FFA Degree at the National FFA Convention hosted this year in Louisville, Kentucky. Emilie is now the third generation of the Keiser family to be honored with the degree along with her father Kirk and grandfather Robert.
The Keiser family planted their roots in the late 1800’s in Northwest Ohio, where the first three generations were all full-time farmers. Robert, the fifth generation, was involved in the FFA program and awarded the FFA Degree at the 36th convention. Robert joined the Air Force after graduating in 1964 & upon returning utilized his training in electronics to land himself a job working for AT&T. After the early passing of his father, he began farming part-time while continuing his full-time work at AT&T. Robert was employed at three occupations at one point after he picked up a job selling seed as a Pioneer sales rep. Eventually Robert left AT&T to farm and work as a sales rep full-time until two years ago, when he retired from his sales rep position and now farms full-time.
As the 6th generation of Keisers came along, one of Robert’s 4 kids, Kirk, followed in his father’s footsteps and became heavily involved in the FFA program during his career at Fayette. Kirk would graduate from Fayette in 1987 with the same degree his father previously won during his time. Knowing that farming full-time wasn’t within financial means, he pursued an education at Ohio State University and earned a degree in Agricultural Economy. Kirk went on to use his knowledge of the agricultural industry working as a sales representative for seed fertilizer chemicals. For a short time he was involved with an automotive engineering group before taking his current position working with farm credit services. “Ag is a big part of living out here”, Kirk notes, “It gives you a lot of grassroots and tools to use throughout your life: public speaking, serving on office teams. It’s not just about farming”.
Emilie is the seventh generation Keiser and third consecutive to receive the FFA Degree. The degree entails committing to the FFA program as an officer and being involved with an agriculture-related project, making at least $5,000 within a 2-year period. The process involves heavy amounts of bookkeeping and up to 30 hours of community service—Kirk noted that the growing requirements were more contingent than his experience. Emilie’s love of agriculture and the FFA program started in her 8th grade year as Fayette allows their 8th graders a chance to get started in the FFA program before committing to the program their Freshman year of high school. She’s has been an FFA officer since her sophomore year and will also be serving her Senior year in the Fall. When asked about her future plans, Emilie gleefully expressed her love for a field in dentistry—specifically as a Dental Hygienist. Upon completing her senior year, she intends on pursuing her passion at either Ohio State University or a local community college.
Jake can be reached at