By Starrla Cray
HOWARD LAKE, MN As the newly selected Minnesota State FFA sentinel, Justin Crowley of Howard Lake is excited to encourage and educate others about the program he loves.
“I decided to run for Minnesota State FFA office because of my deep passion for the FFA,” said Crowley, a freshman at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. “I want to see this organization continue to succeed, especially here in Minnesota.”
Out of 21 dedicated candidates from around the state, Crowley was one of six to be chosen for state office during the 81st annual Minnesota FFA state convention April 25-27 at the University of Minnesota.
“This has been a dream of mine for four years now, and it is still tough to believe that I was selected,” Crowley said. “I am absolutely honored.”
Crowley said he became involved in FFA five years ago as a result of his parents’ encouragement and “general curiosity.”
“My brother, Zack, was involved at the time, so I wanted to see what it was all about,” he explained.
Later on, as a freshman in high school, Crowley enrolled in an agriculture exploratory class.
“I saw many opportunities to take advantage of, especially in the area of leadership,” Crowley said. The state officers of the time, and Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted’s FFA advisor, James Weninger, inspired Crowley to reach his full potential.
“The rest is history,” Crowley said. “I have been highly involved in a variety of ways.”
In FFA, members participate in Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAEs), which means that they keep record of work-based projects.
“Along the way, you set goals and acquire responsibilities,” Crowley said.
When Crowley was in high school, his parents, Deb and Clem, owned a business that retailed bulk chemicals and fertilizer. Crowley worked for his parents until last winter, when they sold the business to Centrasota Cooperative. Now, Crowley works at Centrasota, delivering fertilizer and chemicals to customers.
“My job at both businesses was actually an integral part of being an FFA member,” he said.
By using his employment as an SAE, Crowley received a first place state proficiency award and was the State Star in Agribusiness last year.
“That success has been one of many inspiring factors to get me where I am today,” Crowley said.
As a freshman at the U of M, Crowley is currently planning to major in agricultural education leadership and communications, with a minor in agronomy.
“I am considering transferring to the teaching major within agricultural education, since I have such a passion to educate people about agriculture,” he added.
Crowley said that Weninger is his role model, and he also greatly appreciates all the support his parents have given him throughout the years.
“I would not be here without all of their help,” Crowley said.
The other five state FFA officers include: Jason Troendle of St. Charles as president, Liz Rabbe of Martin County West as vice president, Erin Daninger of Forest Lake as secretary, Maddie Collin of Southwest Star Concept as treasurer, and Kirsten Pagel of Fulda as reporter.