By Jennifer Kotila
HOWARD LAKE, WAVERLY, WINSTED, MN Students who are part of Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted FFA team have spent hours upon hours preparing and practicing for the 82nd Minnesota FFA convention.
The theme of the convention was ‘Give 2 Grow’, and it took place last Monday and Tuesday.
All of the hard work the students put in paid off, and they came home named the Premier FFA Chapter for the entire state.
The last time HLWW received top honor at state was in 2007, but they have been within the top 10 state chapters for more than a decade.
Being named a premier chapter is a national award. Individual FFA chapters fill out an application outlining three different activities the chapter has done in student development, chapter development, and community development.
Some of the activities HLWW FFA outlined in its application was the annual breakfast on the farm, the chapter’s trapshoot, building docks, and National Food Checkout week, said FFA member Sabrina Keiser.
The chapter is judged on how well the questions in each section of the application are answered, and on the success of the different activities.
The HLWW FFA chapter took 53 members to compete at the state convention, and competed in 17 career development events, placing first in four of the events.
One of the events was won by a new freshman member of the chapter, Ryan Gailey, who placed first in creed.
For this event, eighth- or ninth-grade members recite the FFA’s five-paragraph creed, which has been memorized.
Participants are judged on fluency, their stage presence, and how well they answer questions asked by the judges.
“I practiced a lot, especially having people ask me questions,” Gailey said. This is the first time the HLWW FFA chapter has placed first in the creed event.
Although Gailey is qualified to participate at the National FFA Convention next fall in the creed event, he has decided to pass that up.
Instead, Gailey will be competing with the nursery and landscape team, which also placed first at state and qualified for nationals. FFA members can only participate in one event at nationals.
Nursery and landscape
Other members of the nursery and landscape team are Raechell Bayerl, Josh Laxen, and Jacob Scherping. Individually, Laxen placed first in the event, Bayerl placed fourth, Gailey placed fifth, and Scherping placed ninth.
For this event, FFA members are tested on their skills managing a greenhouse. Participants take a written test, compete in a judging practicum, a seed and pruning practicum, and are tested on how well they can identify plants, shrubs, and trees.
The nursery and landscape team will be busy studying throughout the summer and fall for nationals.
“We always put a lot of time in practicing. We practiced three days a week before state,” Laxen said.
Gailey had an excellent run during the state convention, as he also qualified to go to nationals on another team that tied for first, the greenhand ring.
The other members of HLWW FFA’s greenhand ring are Kyla Mauk, Maddi Merges, Gabrielle Gruenhagen, Bethany Kozitka, Mackenzie Uter, and Lucas Plamann.
For this event, new members of each chapter are tested for their knowledge of the history of FFA, what is currently taking place in FFA, and the rules of FFA.
Neither Gailey nor Mauk will be participating at nationals with the rest of the greenhand ring. Mauk will be participating with the food science team at nationals.
Other food science team members who will be competing at nationals are Sarah Marketon, Katie Hirsch, and Ariel Kocher.
Novice parliamentary procedure
Rounding out the upcoming class of top-notch HLWW FFA chapter members was the novice parliamentary team, which also placed first at state.
Members of this team are Ethan Groos, Becca Plamann, Becca Zander, Emily Mages, Jacob Demarais, Josh Laxen, and Clayton Hanson.
In this event, the team gives a 15-minute parliamentary procedure demonstration in which they are scored on clarity, style, execution, and how well everything flows.
After the demonstration, the team’s secretary is given 15 minutes to prepare minutes of what happened in the meeting, which are judged for accuracy.
Although there is not a novice parliamentary procedure event at nationals, most of the team members will move up to compete in advanced parliamentary procedure next year, Zander said.
Another HLWW FFA member, Sabrina Keiser will be participating at nationals in the public speaking event.
She placed first at the state convention in public speaking. The topic of her speech was agricultural education and literacy, comparing the understanding of agriculture to understanding a foreign language.
Before nationals, Keiser said she will be revising her speech, updating the facts, and practicing a lot.
In a discussion meet sponsored by Minnesota Farm Bureau and FFA, Sarah Marketon placed second and will be continuing on to the next round with four other participants from other FFA chapters.
Participants were given three topics of discussion; government’s involvement in agriculture and whether it is a benefit or a hindrance; how food programs influence national agriculture production and federal programs; and, whether Americans consider American agriculture important to national security.
For the event, participants present a 30-second prepared statement, followed by 15 minutes of discussion with five to six other participants, then each participant is allowed to prepare a one-minute closing statement to summarize their discussion points, Marketon said.
The judges are looking for a cooperative attitude, that participants are not talking over people or shouting them down, because it is a discussion, not a debate.
The judges also take into consideration the facts and figures used by each participant to make sure they are accurate, Marketon said.
Marketon will receive a college scholarship for placing second in the event.
Chapter exchange of ideas
The HLWW FFA chapter also received honors for the chapter exchange of ideas, which it applied for using the National Food Checkout week in which it participated.
HLWW FFA received $100 for being one of the top three finalists in the community development category of this event, and another $100 for having the best idea.
For the event, it made a display board that showed the chapter’s plan of action, its goals and objectives, and the results of the national food checkout week, Marketon said.
Another accomplishment for the HLWW FFA chapter at the state convention was 11 of the members earning their state FFA degrees.
This is the most state FFA degrees ever received in one year for the HLWW FFA chapter, and it tied with another chapter for receiving the most state FFA degrees this year.
In order to earn a state FFA degree, which is the highest degree FFA members are able to earn, members keep track of the money the make while participating in supervised agricultural experiences.
When an FFA member has $2,500 earned or invested, they are eligible for a state FFA degree.
Also at this year’s state convention, Justin Crowley retired as the state FFA sentinel.
The HLWW FFA agricultural communications team will also be participating at nationals. Members of that team are Sabrina Keiser, Emily Mages, Rebecca Zander, and Rebecca Groos.