Father and son win ​State FFA award 31 years apart

Andy Drange and his son Spencer Drange received the same award 31 years apart.

Andy Drange and his son Spencer Drange both won the proficiency award for specialty animal production for Montana FFA. Andy won the award in 1986 and Spencer won it this year in March at the State FFA Convention held in Great Falls. Andy won it in entrepreneurship in Beekeeping (owning your own bees) and Spencer won it in Placement for Beekeeping (working in the industry). Both specialties compete for the same award. To earn the award, they had to keep records for all four years of high school and fill out a long questionnaire application about what they did in the beekeeping industry. After winning state, the application is sent on to regional competition. Andy won a bronze at the regional level and Spencer will find out later this year if he wins regional and can go on to the national competition.
Andy was in the Big Timber FFA when he won his award. He started raising bees in 1980. When he started out he had five hives. After he graduated, he attended Ohio State University and studied Commercial Beekeeping. Upon returning to Montana he went to work for a commercial beekeeper in Columbus, Mont., and stayed for over 15 years. Seven years ago, he and his wife Jodie purchased a beekeeping operation in Laurel and renamed it Drange Apiary Inc. They currently run 4,500 beehives. The bees pollinate almonds in California, cherries and apples in Washington, and make a honey crop here while providing pollination up and down the Yellowstone valley.
Spencer worked for Drange Apiary since the family bought the business. He has learned many different aspects of the beekeeping industry from working with the bees including building equipment and giving talks on beekeeping. Spencer graduated from Laurel High School in 2016. He is currently attending Northwest College studying farm and ranch management. He is hoping to come back and work and eventually take over the business. The award came with a $250 prize which he will use for college. Spencer also tried for a proficiency award this year in goats. He has raised market goats for seven years. He earned a gold award. FFA youth are only allowed to win one proficiency award a year.
Congratulations to Spencer and the entire Drange family.

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