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Dassel-Cokato FFA returns from national convention
NOV. 1, 2010
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Davis and Dahlman return with the American FFA Degrees

By Kristen Miller
News Editor

DASSEL-COKATO, MN – Twenty-one Dassel-Cokato FFA members recently participated at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, IN, bringing with them a team of supporters.

“[The trip] went really well,” said Dassel-Cokato FFA Advisor Eric Sawatzke. He was also happy to see not only the large number of FFA members, but the family members who came along to support them through the competitions.

At the convention, which took place Oct. 19-23, two FFA members received their American FFA Degrees, three career development teams competed, and two members sang in the National FFA Chorus.

Rachael Dahlman and Darin Davis had the honor of receiving the American FFA Degree at the national convention.

“Both Darin and Rachael were highly involved FFA members and were awarded this prestigious award, that only 5 percent of all FFA members receive,” Sawatzke said.

There were a total of 3,600 members receiving this degree nationwide this year.

One of the criteria is to have earned and productively invested at least $7,500, or have earned and productively invested at least $1,500 and worked 2,250 hours beyond scheduled school hours through their supervised agricultural experience.

Dahlman’s SAE was sheep production entrepreneurship. Rachael and her brother, Luke raised and sold purebred Montadale sheep and showed them at the county and state fair.

“With a minimum input of $7,500 in their supervised agricultural experience, this group has had an economic impact of at least $27,000,000, even though they are just out of high school,” Sawatzke said.

“It’s been a goal of mine since I started the FFA to get my American Degree,” Dahlman said. “It was a great way to wrap up my FFA career.”

Rachael was also excited to participate in nationals and to see her little brother Luke chair the parliamentary procedure team, which she had also done a few years ago.

“It’s fun to see him do something that we both have a passion for,” she said.

Rachael has taken her FFA experience beyond high school.

In her freshman year of college, she was the FFA region president. Currently, Rachael is in her junior year at South Dakota State University, studying for a degree in agricultural economics and a minor in agronomy.

For Davis, receiving his American degree has been an honor and a reward for the hard work he has put in over the years, he said.

Currently, Davis is a junior at University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, working to earn a degree in animal science with an emphasis in dairy production.

For his SAE project, Davis kept records of the work he did on his family farm, Chanlore Farm in Cokato, from milking cows to field work and mixing feed rations, Davis explained.

In 2009, Davis was among the top four in the nation for his dairy production placement proficiency, which was also quite an accomplishment for him, he said.

Davis is the third member of his family to receive the American FFA Degree. His brothers, Brad and Kevin also earned the degree when they were in FFA.

Three FFA teams competed at nationals

The three teams that competed at the national convention were the floriculture team, the parliamentary procedure team, and the marketing team.

The floriculture team, which consisted of Heidi Hendrickson, Janina Peterson, Rachel Ylitalo, and Caitlin Keskey, competed against 45 teams and placed sixth, giving them a gold team award.

Each member also did really well individually, Sawatzke said.

Among 186 participants, Hendrickson placed 26th, Peterson, 27th; Keskey, 46th; and Ylitalo, 49th.

This competition included a written exam, telephone sales, plant identification, creating a product display arrangement for marketing purposes, and floral arrangements, including each making a $35 Thanksgiving centerpiece. Also, as a team activity, they had to create 22 wedding arrangements in under 45 minutes.

“It was a good experience to compete at the national level,” said Hendrickson.

Having to compete against 45 different states can also be a bit intimidating. “We were really nervous, too,” said Ylitalo.

The parliamentary procedure team, which consisted of Luke Dahlman, Lucas Salfer, Katie Davis, Katie Peterson, Carlie Hedlund, and Austin Davis, competed against 49 states. Jordann Hornemann also attended as an alternate.

This is the largest career development event at the convention, Dahlman commented.

This competition includes an exam on parliamentary procedure, a 10-minute presentation including questions based on Robert’s Rules of Order, and a 25-minute presentation before the judges.

The team brought home a silver team award. Though the team doesn’t know its exact placing, they know they weren’t one of the top six, which would have been gold.

“You always hope to do better,” Dahlman said, adding “it was a fun experience being down there amongst the 54,000 members and just seeing the sea of blue jackets.”

“It was a good experience to have the feeling of competing at that level,” said Katie Davis, adding “it was nice having the parents come down and support each team as they were competing.”

The marketing plan team, which consisted of Megan Piepgras, Lisa Hohenstein, and Alex Piepenburg, placed among the top 16, though they weren’t one of the four teams to compete in the finals.

As part of this competition, the team developed and presented a marketing plan for McCone Foods, an agricultural business which the FFA works with for fundraising, that would help promote the company’s fundraising to other FFA chapters, according to Piepgras.

A proposal for this was sent a month in advance to be judged. During nationals, the team gave a 15-minute presentation and answered questions regarding the plan.

Though there was no test, there was a lot of memorization, Piepgras said.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Piepgras. “We always wish we could have made it to the final four, but happy with how we did.”

Performing in the National FFA Chorus

Performing in this year’s National FFA Chorus was Colee Jennissen and Alex Hauck.

Hauck and Jennissen were selected from a pool of 200 FFA members from around the US, and were among 80 chosen to sing throughout the convention.

“It was really cool,” said Jennissen, who participated in nationals for her first time this year.

There was a total of 15 performances, with the largest being for the 54,000 members in the Conseco Field House for three opening sessions of the convention.

Jennissen was surprised to even have been chosen to sing in the chorus, since she had heard how difficult it is for girls to make it in their first year of tryouts.

The best part of the convention for Jennissen was being able to sing a duet with Hauck at Lucas Oil Stadium for a talent choir show.

They sang, “Give Me Your Eyes,” by Brandon Heath in front of a large audience.

“It was really cool to sing in front of everybody,” she said.

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