By Starrla Cray
HOWARD LAKE, WAVERLY, WINSTED, MN The Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted FFA Alumni’s passion for agriculture shines as bright as a sunrise over a field of freshly cut hay.
“We care about agriculture, and we want to see the ag program continue to flourish,” alumni president Dave Marquardt said.
“The friends I made in FFA will be friends for a lifetime,” said Pat Bakeberg of Waverly. “It’s is the best organization I’ve ever been in.”
When Bakeberg graduated from HLWW, he immediately joined the FFA Alumni.
“It’s my time to give back,” he said.
Each August, members raise money through an alumni auction. Items for sale include a wide variety of machinery, hay, straw, and household supplies.
“One hundred percent of our proceeds go to support the FFA chapter,” alumni member Randy Heuer said.
The Wright County Fair also provides an opportunity to earn money.
“We, along with the FFA kids, clean the barns out after the fair each year,” Bakeberg said.
Before the FFA took over the cleaning job, the fair board paid a company to do the work.
“It used to take them two or three months,” Bakeberg said. “It only takes us about a day. We have a lot of help and a lot of equipment.”
These fundraisers have enabled the alumni to provide the FFA with equipment, tools, and curriculum materials, as well as scholarships for FFA national conventions and other leadership events.
Some of the fundraising has also supported the FFA greenhouse, which will be constructed in May.
Agriculture instructor James Weninger, as well as Pat Bakeberg, Tony Bakeberg, and Heuer, are part of the greenhouse committee.
“We’re just in the process right now of securing permits for the greenhouse,” Weninger said.
Because of bids that came in lower than expected, the committee was recently able to reduce the greenhouse budget from $98,700 to $88,700.
Another cost-savings occurred as a result of a greenhouse in Norwood Young America that went out of business. The FFA committee was able to get $9,000 worth of tables and other supplies from that greenhouse for only $4,200, Weninger said.
“We got really lucky with that,” he said.
If there is extra money when the greenhouse is complete, Weninger is planning to have a breezeway put in that will attach the storage shed to the greenhouse.
“We’ll be starting in the greenhouse in January,” he said. “It’ll be good to stay out of the elements as much as possible.”
As for what types of plants will be grown in the greenhouse, Weninger said he hasn’t finalized everything yet.
“I’ve thought about that quite extensively,” he said, adding that he knows there will be vegetables, hanging plants, and bedding plants.
He plans to check with other agriculture instructors and nurseries to see which items sell best.
“Another possibility I’ve thought of is surveying the community,” he said.
For now, Weninger said they plan to stick with plants that don’t require a tremendous amount of care.
“We hope to have a fairly sizeable selection for Mother’s Day each year,” he said.
HLWW FFA Alumni
The HLWW FFA has several active alumni. The 2009-10 alumni list is as follows:
• Dave Marquardt
• Tony Bakeberg
• Dennis Butterfass
• Jim Weninger
• Ryan Bakeberg
• Bob Bakeberg
• Alan and Sharon
• Pat Bakeberg
• Greg Bakeberg
• Dan Glessing
• Randy Heuer
• Jared Bakeberg
• Mike and Ruth Young
• Dwayne Diers
• Sean Groos
• Dale Engel
• Eugene Boehlke
• Duane Janikula
• Rod Marquardt
• Scott Youngren
• Nancy and Quay
• Charles Borrell
• Mike Koeppe
• Mark Diers
• Clem Crowley
• Burton Horsch
• Pat Salonek
• Joel Fasching
• Everritt Smith
• John Schlauderaff
• Jeff and Janelle Koch
• Douglas Triplett
• Bob Neuman
• Omar Glessing
• Loren Glessing
• Gerald Diers
• Dennis Yager
• Dan Domjahn
• Neil Glessing
• Eugene Lorentz
• Jon and Dorothy Pettit
• LaVeryn Pederson
• Roger Kritzeck
• Robert Westman
• Dale Lorentz
• Ken Marketon