One Supervised Agriculture Experience helping another. That’s part of the premise of AgDash, a birdseed and wildlife feed company established in December 2022 in Missouri by Marshall FFA member Gage Davis.
The company got a jumpstart during the holiday season and winter months, where birdwatching and feeding is prevalent. As soon as Davis, the owner and founder, began putting the pen to paper in his FFA record books, his excitement took off about the company.
“I realized that AgDash could really become something huge,” he said.
Although he’s just a sophomore at Marshall High School in Marshall, Missouri, FFA was already a family tradition in the Davis household.
“My great grandpa was the first to get his American degree in the Marshall FFA chapter,” Davis said. “I personally started being involved in the FFA as a freshman, and I have my sister, who is two grades above me, who also helped show me the ropes and get me started in FFA.”
As organic row crop farmers, there’s never a dull moment in the Davis household. On top of the family farm, FFA classes and contests, and showing horses in the American Ranch Horse Association with his sister, Davis has been developing new feed products and ideas to get his product in front of consumers.
At the center of his full-circle business approach, Davis says that the ingredients for AgDash’s products come from his family’s farm, other FFA members, and other family farms.
And for each bag of wildlife feed purchased, Davis says he will donate a dollar toward a grant to help other FFA members get started with their own Supervised Agriculture Experience.
“Eventually, I can begin buying ingredients from another FFA kid in Nebraska or another FFA kid in Southern Missouri,” explained Davis. “I’m working on building a network where I can support other FFA members through my projects so they can share the story of their SAE in the future.”
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AgDash doesn’t just sell wildlife feeds. Davis is bringing added value to his markets, providing services, filling feeders, and delivering to his local customers, building a legacy that he hopes will continue with the business for years to come.
“Birdseed is very common and popular. However, not many people locally make it,” he said. “So, the idea was to become the original.”
It’s not just about the feed, though. Davis hopes that the videos he’s creating for social media will not only be informative and fun, but helpful. And that they’ll build a story and help people to understand where their seed comes from.
Like any startup company, one of the biggest hurdles AgDash has overcome is ensuring that people know the company exists. And, just as importantly, an FFA member runs it as part of an SAE.
“I’ve had several people come up to me and ask if I’m the one running the company or if it’s my parent’s operation,” Davis said. “My parents, family, and friends support me, but when I tell people that I’m the main head of the operation, many of them are quick to buy a bag of feed and support me, and the FFA SAE grant that I’m doing.”
On top of using social media and word of mouth, Davis markets his products at as many farmers’ markets as he can attend. His products are mixed out of a grain elevator that his family owns, and so local pickups are available when Davis is tied up showing horses or in school.
That said, AgDash isn’t just available locally. While Davis won’t personally be making deliveries nationally, he quickly points out that the company ships products nationwide.
And the company isn’t going anywhere. Davis is working toward earning his American Degree, taking AgDash to a national Agricultural Proficiency Award, and continuing to build the company’s services, product line, availability, and connectivity to other FFA members.
Davis says that FFA has helped him to build life and interpersonal skills, even when it’s not a skill you set out to learn. He hopes to continue that trend.
“Comfort is the enemy of growth,” said Davis. “My ag advisors pushed me into Creed Speaking contests. It’s helped me with public speaking and pushed me out of my comfort zone by thinking of responses on the spot. I’ve grown a lot since then.”
Heidi Crnkovic, is the Associate Editor for AGDAILY. She is a New Mexico native with deep-seated roots in the Southwest and a passion for all things agriculture.