By Pete Temple, Express Sports/Ag Editor
There is little question about what Riley Bossard wants to be when he grows up.
Check out his work with the Monticello FFA Chapter, the Leonard Grandchildren Sweet Corn business, the work with the FFA’s sweet corn project, and it becomes obvious.
Bossard is not sure everyone knows, however, that he wants to be a farmer.
“I was talking about that with some friends,” Bossard said. “I’ve never told Grandpa I want to farm. So let’s just blow it out there, put it in the paper.”
His grandfather is Mark Leonard, with whom Bossard has helped on the family farm for as long as Riley can remember.
“I just love every part of doing it,” Bossard said. “It’s always something I enjoy. I like working for myself. It always looked like my grandpa enjoyed what he did, and he and my grandma (Irma) have had a good life doing it.”
Bossard, now 18, grew up less than a quarter mile from the Leonard farm.
“My sister (Hailee) and I, we were up there every day,” Riley said. “I was always helping Grandpa do something in the shop.
“When harvest time came around, we would set up all the augers, get the wagons out and ready and get the combines set up. Same with planting; we’d pull the planter out, and make sure that was all ready.”
More recently, Bossard has worked closely with Mark Leonard on the sweet corn business. Leonard started that more than 20 years ago. Bossard joined in when he was old enough, and has enjoyed it since.
“He started it for our college fund,” Bossard said. “It was always half an acre of sweet corn. Last year, we were up to two acres.
“My grandpa has always told us that, ‘We’re not doing as much next year,’ or, ‘We’re not doing it next year,’ and I always tell him, ‘Yeah we are.’ ”
Bossard has gotten involved financially, buying half the seed for the sweet corn.
“I put a financial risk in it,” he said. “I dealt with every aspect of it, from planting, to harvesting, to spraying it, maintaining it, setting the electric fence up, selling it, and I had to find a way to pay everybody too.
“You see more of the business when you run it.”
Last summer, Bossard learned what a drought can do to the business.
“We basically got half a crop out of everything,” he said. “And the Japanese beetles really came out last year. These little bugs were eating the tassel off the end of the corn, and that’s what pollinates the corn. We had to go out there and spray the whole thing by hand.”
Mike and Sheryl Leonard, Dan and Diane Leibold, Janine Bossard and Hailee Bossard are also in on the sweet corn business.
Bossard is also active in the Monticello FFA Chapter, having served as reporter and treasurer. He has earned the prestigious Iowa Degree, and collected proficiency and sub-district awards at the FFA Banquet last March.
Last summer, he was project manager for the FFA sweet corn project that raised corn for use in school lunches.
Now a senior at MHS, he is serving on the FFA Week Committee, helping plan activities for the annual celebration of FFA in February.
He has other hobbies.
“I like working on vehicles, too, and fixing stuff,” Bossard said. “I took that auto tech class at Kirkwood (Jones Regional Education Center), and that really helped.
“My friends call me a jack of all trades. Among other names.”
After graduation, Bossard plans to attend Kirkwood Community College to study ag production management.
“I’ll see where that goes,” Bossard said.
Ultimately, though, he wants to end up farming.
“I don’t know what my grandpa’s plans are for the farm,” he said. “I haven’t asked him, which I really need to do.”
Bossard said he hinted at it one time.
“My grandpa said, ‘I started two people farming, and look where they ended up,’ ” Bossard said, noting that neither is farming today.
“I told him, ‘Third time’s the charm, then.’ ”
PHOTO: Riley Bossard, a senior at Monticello High School, hopes to make a career out of farming. (Photo by Pete Temple)