Dordt student selected as national finalist for American Star for National FFA Organization

Dordt University student shines nationally in National FFA Organization

young girl named danae smiling outside

Danae Westra, an agriculture education major at Dordt University, has been selected as a national finalist for the American Star in Agriscience by the National FFA Organization. The American Star Awards recognizes FFA members who “have gone above and beyond in their attitude, involvement, community service, and supervised agriculture experience.”

“Those who receive the awards are recognized as the best of the best of FFA members, which includes over 800,000 members,” says Gary De Vries, agriculture department instructor at Dordt.

Westra, who represents her home chapter in California, will be interviewed at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, where she will compete as one of four finalists in the Agriscience category. Over 4,000 FFA members receive their American Degree each year, and each state selects one student for each of the star categories, which is then narrowed to four nationally who interview at the convention.

“I am humbled that my projects have been chosen to be honored at the national level,” says Westra.

Westra as well as Dordt students Haley Williams and Kate Bush will all receive their American Degrees through FFA this year. According to the FFA website, the American Degree is the “highest degree achievable in the National FFA Organization” and “demonstrates the effort FFA members apply toward their supervised agricultural experience and the outstanding leadership abilities and community involvement they exhibited through their FFA career.”

“The American Degree is the gold standard of membership with typically less than two percent of the members receiving the American FFA Degree,” says De Vries. “In order to receive the degree, members must have completed a high school course of study in agriculture education, been active in their chapter and state FFA Association, received their state’s FFA Degree, and earned at least $10,000 in their Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) program.”

Williams is excited to attend the National FFA Convention in October to receive the American Degree and meet other members that have earned theirs.

“Dordt has given me the opportunity to continue to grow my passion for agriculture, and the professors have been super supportive throughout my journey as an FFA member past high school,” she says.

Westra has felt encouraged by Dordt’s faculty as she has pursued her dreams both in FFA and for her future in agriculture.

“The professors at Dordt have continually supported me throughout my FFA endeavors. From practice interviews to following up with me about my FFA activities, I have seen the way that my professors truly care about each of their students. They have taken the time to see me succeed and encourage me through each step of this journey and I am so thankful for it.”

After graduation, Westra plans to return to California, where she hopes to become an FFA adviser for high schoolers.

“As an adviser, I hope to encourage my students to go beyond their comfort zone, while finding leadership, exploring different career development events, and meeting different members.”

To learn more about Dordt’s agriculture program, visit

About Dordt University

As an institution of higher education committed to the Reformed Christian perspective, Dordt University equips students, faculty, alumni, and the broader community to work toward Christ-centered renewal in all aspects of contemporary life. Located in Sioux Center, Iowa, Dordt is a comprehensive university named to the best college lists by U.S. News and World Report,, Washington Monthly, and Princeton Review.

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