Annual FFA Auction has Something for Everyone

Operated by the Benton Central Ag Alumni for the Benefit of the Benton Central FFA Chapter

This year nearly 50 FFA students and over 100 volunteers will work together to make the 41st Annual Benton Central FFA Auction a resounding success. Since 1974, the public event has grown into one of the largest FFA auctions in the state – all from a combination of hard-work, volunteerism and countless hours of planning.

This year’s auction, held on March 28th, is expected to draw a record crowd. For many that attend it’s a family tradition, for others a place to buy new trees and landscaping, for everyone in attendance the common thread is community spirit and friendship.

Larry Scherer has been volunteering his time since 1974 to help make the FFA Auction a success. It’s people like Larry, our teachers, students and other members of the community that have contributed to the Benton Central FFA Auction being one of the largest in the state.

From it’s humble beginnings back in 1974, the auction got it’s start through the suggestion of Dan Kerkhoff. “It was Dan’s persistence that really got Mr. Whistler and I on-board to start the annual auction,” said Dale Butcher, “Dan, Clarence VanShaffen, Larry Scherer and the late Darlene Whistler were instrumental in our early success,” he added.

Today the auction it has grown leaps and bounds, filling the entire parking lot with quality items that everyone can take an interest in. Historically speaking, “The first year the auction was held, it took us 45 minutes from start to finish,” said Larry Scherer of Scherer’s Auction Service. Quite the change from this year’s auction which will start at 9 AM, include twelve (12) volunteer auctioneers and approximately 1,000 bidders. “In recent years, volunteers like Brody Fox and Kristy Kretzmeier have added computer systems that help us get checks out door quickly and efficiently,” commented Mr. Butcher.

Countless FFA Alumni, parents and community members come together every year, putting in hours of work to help our FFA students with this successful event. Current chapter President, Senior Kenzie Kretzmeier said, “This is our primary fundraiser for activities during the year, it’s amazing how the auction gets so much support from both the farming community and Benton County in general.”  The FFA students refer to auction week as “Spring Break in the Parking Lot” as they volunteer their entire vacation to the success of the auction.

“It’s a fun, family-friendly event that has something for everyone,” added Kretzmeier.

For the students, the auction is a time of year that they look forward to, “it’s a very fun work environment where we learn valuable skills,” says Chapter VP Phillip Voglewede.

What has the FFA Auction Helped You Learn?

“We learn how to plan, work together, and pull off a successful auction. I am interested in pursuing Management, so the auction has helped me prepare.”

Kendra BudreauJunior and Chapter Reporter

“Responsibility, timeliness and getting the job done to completion are just a few of the things we learn through this experience.”

Taylor GreenburgJunior and Chapter Reporter

“I have an interest in Forestry & Natural resources, so the auction has helped me learn about the sales side of the business. Additionally, it’s been a great experience mentoring younger students.”

Phillip VoglewedeSenior and Chapter VP

Everyone in the community is encouraged to attend and enjoy a full day of spirited bidding, food and fun.  Dale Butcher noted that, “The Benton Central FFA Auction is known as the ‘Agricultural social event of the year, it draws people from all over the state and signifies he end of winter and the start of the agricultural production season.”

What You Will Find at the Auction:

  • High-Quality Trees, Shrubs & Plants
  • Lawn & Garden tools and mowers
  • ATV’s & Recreational vehicles
  • Farm Machinery
  • Trucks, Cars, Tractors & Wagons
  • Livestock Equipment & Supplies to raise 4-H Animals
  • Tillage, Planting & Spraying Equipment
  • Local implement dealers showcasing equipment
  • And much more!

Ag teacher Amanda Mullins noted, “This year we will have overnight security to prevent the theft of items.”

How Large is the Auction?

  • +- 1,000 registered bidders
  • Bidders from Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri & Texas

Where Does the Money Go?

  •  Items of $10.00 or Less are a Donation
  • $10.01 – $100.00 are 15% Donation
  • $101.00 – $500.00 are 10% Donation
  • $501.00 – $1,500 .00 are 7% Donation
  • $1,501.00 & Up are 4% Donation
  • All Monies donated support FFA activities, events, scholarships and more.

When & Where:

  • Saturday, March 28, 2015 – 9:00 AM EST
  • Benton Central High School Parking Lot

On the Menu:

  • Full service concessions all day long
  • Coffee, Sandwiches, Chili, BBQ, Nachos, Cookies, Cakes Pies
  • Bring the whole family and make it a day


For More Information Call 765-884-1600 Ext. 2164, visit or or email amullins(at)

An Interview with Max Armstrong

Talking shop with the ‘Voice of American Agriculture’

Max Armstrong and his Farmall H Tractor. “Interviewing Max was a real honor,” said Johnny Klemme. “He gave me some great advice as an agriculture professional and on life in general.”

Situated at the dead-end of a dirt road in North Carolina, his two Jack Russell terriers by his side and a view of his horse farm, Max Armstrong, spoke with me over the phone in his distinguished radio voice, “I’ve got to live out my childhood dream for the last 40 years.”

As a boy, growing up on the farm in Southern Indiana, the nationally-known host of ‘This Week in Agribusiness’ and the ‘WGN Radio Saturday Morning Show’ dreamed of reporting on the events, news and issues important to the Agriculture community. Now, some forty years later, he generously shared with me his good fortune, hard work, as well as the challenges and opportunities he believes we are facing in agriculture today.

“I am optimistic about the future of Agriculture,” said Armstrong, “I encourage producers, farm families, and everyone living in a rural community to promote the increasingly important role that agriculture plays in the state of Indiana.”

What excites you most about Agriculture today?

“Everyone talks about technology, and I am excited about the capabilities of producers to analyze fields with UAV’s, making better decisions with farm data, and their ability to address problems faster and more efficiently. Just as exciting is the generational shift to tomorrow’s farmer.  Years of sustained profitability have helped farming families’ position the next generation to be successful – because it’s not easy being a new or young farmer!”

Max went on to commend younger producers for their willingness to embrace technology and maintain the values instilled in them from their parents and grandparents.  “Tomorrow’s farming operation enters a time of greater competition, but with the right tools and work ethic, there is room to be successful.”

What are the major obstacles or challenges we face in Agriculture?

“More than ever, farmers, business leaders and members of the rural community should be engaged in the political process. Whether we like it or not, the Ag community voice needs to be heard. By the time you get to Washington D.C. there are precious few representing the Ag community, but at the local and state level, there is a lot of opportunity.”

Armstrong commented that spreading the message of Agriculture can easily become part of our daily routine. “Every time you see your local officials, whether at the coffee shop or annual parade, shake their hand, and remind them about the importance of the Ag constituency.”

What advice would you give to todays and tomorrow’s farmer?

“We all recognize that it’s a competitive market. But I hope and pray that we keep the ‘family to family’ and ‘neighbor helping neighbor’ philosophy alive. Building relationships is the key to success in more than just farming; you never know when the person you just met could be sitting across the table from you, in a position to help you.”

On many occasions during our conversation, we circled back to this philosophy on life. Max reminded me several times, “Take care of the people around you and you will be successful; both on the farm and off the farm.”

What advice would you give young people today?

“You get a lot of wisdom out of the classroom, but the best classroom in the world is on the knee of your grandparents and parents. Sit with your parents, and listen to what they have to say. Mom and Dad may not be a whiz with their iPad or smartphone, but their life experience is worth more than you may realize.”

We covered a lot of ground in our conversation, from the hard work it takes to be successful in Agribusiness, not being afraid to get your boots dirty, and we even shared quite a few laughs about his iconic mustache and a our mutual interest in antique tractors.  The conversation continually circled back to Max’s philosophy and belief that we can all relate to; whatever your path in life, put in the hard work, resolve to help your neighbors, and you always get back what you put into something.

… And for those that may be wondering, Armstrong has only shaved his iconic mustache one time since graduating from Purdue in 1975. “The one time I did shave it, my wife and daughter were quick to tell me that I needed to start growing it back immediately,” said Armstrong with a laugh.


Where to See & Hear “The Voice of American Agriculture”

WGN Radio, co-host of the “Saturday Morning Show”


“The Tractor Shed” | A show dedicated to the history & restoration of antique tractors

Download “Max Armstrong’s Tractor App” for free on your tablet or smartphone


“This Week in Agribusiness” on the RFD Channel, DirecTV or DISH Network & local stations

About the Author

An Interview with Max Armstrong Johnny Klemme Geswein Farms for sale

Husband, Father, Author, Land Broker & Advisor

The Back Forty is regular column written by Published Author, Purdue Graduate and Farmland Broker Johnny Klemme. His reporting, interviews with Ag Experts and more can be found at

Local Farms Get a Bird’s Eye View | UAVs on Benton County Farms

Every season we see local farmers checking fields, counting bean pods, inspecting ears of corn or checking for damage dealt out by Mother Nature. While field scouting isn’t new, the methods and tools available continually evolve. New technology, in the form of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) aka Drones, has made its way onto many local farms. This month I talked shop with several area farmers about their thoughts and experience with UAVs. While the uses are varied, the consensus is that a bird’s eye view of the farm can have a real impact.

“When you fly over you get an immediate sense of the whole field and a better perspective of your crop,” says agronomist Jason Carlile of Otterbein.

For the past two seasons, Jason has utilized his personal UAV to scout his fields; identifying issues affecting yields as well as opportunities to improve the bottom line.Carlile’s approach to Agronomy and customer service blends years of practical on-the-farm experience with the latest in technology – giving his farm land and seed customers an edge in terms of weather impact and timing of chemical applications to fields.

“When we can see an entire field that hasn’t tasseled, we can gauge how effect fungicide will be,” says Carlile. “This equates to bottom line value and real dollars.”

How Agricultural Drones Can Help Farmers

  • Early Detection of Weed Pressure

  • Identifying Streaks / Nitrogen Deficiency

  • Timing of fungicide applications

  • Identify the extent of wind / hail / drainage Issues

  • Assist decision-making for input expenses

Most farmers would agree that the first ten (10) rows of a field do not tell the entire story. But, which direction do you go to get the full picture? Is 100 feet in the field far enough? 500 feet?  “When you catch problems in the field early on, before they get bad, there is a real impact on the bottom line. Aerial scouting can accomplish this and save me time,” commented Doug Brummet.

Consider this scenario: A big storm, with high winds and hail passes through Benton County. On the drive to the coffee shop you notice outside rows are damaged… But what does your entire field look like?  “A flyover after a wind event or hail storm would be very beneficial,” said another local producer.  Crop insurance is there for you, but a whole field photo or video goes a long way toward peace of mind.

In terms of input costs and ROI, Mark Flook added, “As margins tighten, an investment into aerial scouting could really provide great ROI. A better handle on crop conditions can help with a more informed decision; that can be the difference in several bushels per acre.”

While aerial field scouting can give people a real sense of confidence in their cash crop, seed, and chemical investments there are some restrictions and limitations. Currently the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not allow agricultural drones to be used for commercial purposes. There are also privacy concerns as well as air restrictions that have to be taken into account. The story about the future of agricultural drones is still unfolding; currently they fly a fine line between regulation and agronomic value.

If your great-grandpa had told a story that someday tractors would practically drive themselves, he might have gotten some good laughs at the kitchen table. With aerial field scouting already a reality, what kind of stories will the next generation be telling about the family farm?

In related news, read more about how Benton County Indiana buzzes with new Amazon wind farm

And in our interview with Max Armstrong, he talks about importance of UAVs in agriculture


Local Farms Get a Bird's Eye View | UAVs on Benton County Farms Johnny Klemme Land Broker Farm Real Estate Indiana

About the Author

Johnny Klemme is a published author, graduate of Purdue and Professional Farmland Broker. Born and raised on a local farm, his commentary, interviews with Ag experts & reporting on issues important to farming and land real estate can be found at

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