A junior at the University of Georgia, Ian Bennett has already accomplished a great deal. The third generation Hahira, Georgia farmer raises over 80 head of pure-bred registered Charolais cattle with his father and grandfather. He’s developed his own version of an infrared thermometer for livestock and has plans to return to the family farm to build a commercial greenhouse once he graduates.
But those plans are on hold for the moment as Bennett has been serving as the National FFA Southern Region Vice President.
“While serving as a state officer in Georgia, I got to see the size and scale of the National FFA Organization for the first time,” Bennett said. “I was blown away by the things that our members were able to accomplish and I wanted help them succeed. I decided to run for national office because some things are just worth doing.”
Bennett said he first decided to join FFA to show cattle. After learning more about the program, he took an interest in the Agriscience Fair, and says this really sparked his interest, leading him to where he is today.
FFA has also allowed him to bring some practical applications in science back to the farm. During his seventh grade animal science class, Bennett started an SAE project studying which type of thermometer would work best to take the temperature of cattle.
Bennett conducted six experiments and recorded over 150 pages of research during his time as a Lowndes County FFA member. First he proved that an infrared thermometer could be quicker, easier, and more accurate than currently available thermometers. Then he created an accurate formula for measuring the temperature of cattle and sheep by taking the surface temperature of the nose and then adjusting it to the internal body temperature. Each species of animal required a different formula.
“After conducting three experiments which proved my formulas correct, I began looking at thermometers,” Bennett said. “This led me to design my own version of an infrared thermometer that would be more accurate over a longer distance, and would adjust for accurate temperature readings automatically.”
While Bennett’s thermometer has yet to be brought out on the market, the young inventor believes the tool will be useful for quicker, easier, and more accurate health screenings for animals in dairies, veterinarian offices, and ranches all across America.
His next endeavor? A commercial greenhouse.
“The area of South Georgia where I am from produces large amounts of vegetables. The majority of these crops are transplanted into the field,” Bennett said. “I want to start a commercial green house to sell high quality transplants to fit the diverse needs of local farmers.”
In the meantime, Bennett is focused on his role as National FFA Southern Region Vice President. Before October, he hopes to have successfully helped FFA members across the nation to set and accomplish one goal. He also wants to grow his podcast called “Setting Roots” to over 2,000 listeners a month and collect a sticker from each state he visits.
And now with more than four months under his belt, Bennett is finding he has a lot in common with many other FFA members across the nation — they’re all just as ambitious!
“FFA members have some incredible goals. From underwater welding, to pilots, scientific researchers and the next generation of farmers, our members are headed for a bright future,” Bennett said. “It has surprised me how many unique goals I have heard from members.”
Goals and ambitions aside, Bennett recognizes his role on the National Officer team is really just about connecting the dots from farm to fork.
“Americans have never been more interested in where their food comes from and how it’s grown,” Bennett said. “By helping our members get involved in the process, we hope to make them more connected to agriculture than ever before.”