By Kristen Miller
DASSEL, COKATO, MN Dassel-Cokato FFA members returned from the state convention Tuesday, with several of its members placing including three earning state FFA degrees.
The FFA state convention took place at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities campus May 1-3, where more than 40 students from DC participated in events throughout the three-day convention.
Senior Luke Dahlman was awarded first place in Diversified Livestock Production Entrepreneurship for his Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE), in which he raises his own cattle and sheep.
For the past three years, Luke has been raising grass-fed beef cattle, which he took over from his brother Isaac, who had originally begun feeding them corn.
What encouraged Luke to begin raising only grass-fed cattle was a phone conversation he had with a neurosurgeon from the Mayo Clinic who had been passing by on his way to his lake cabin. He called the number on the sign inquiring whether the cattle had been grass- or corn-fed.
The neurosurgeon told Dahlman that through his education and experience, he found that grass-fed cattle are much healthier for people to eat.
Luke changed to feeding the cows just grass and marketed them as such. He quickly found there is a large market for this particular type of beef.
He also learned through his SAE about marketing your own product, keeping accurate records, and that “communication is key” in consumer relations.
Luke was awarded $250 and will be in the running for the National Proficiency Award this fall at the national convention October 19-22 in Indianapolis, IN.
Junior Sam Carlson was awarded second place in Grain Production Entrepreneurship for raising and marketing crops. Carlson will have a great shot at first place next spring, said Eric Sawatzke, FFA advisor.
For his project, Carlson rented 14 acres and planted soybeans. Through the project, he found there are many advantages, but also disadvantages to crop growing.
This experience allowed him to get involved more in the business side of agriculture, such as with record-keeping and managing finances.
The challenges he found are basically what no farmer can control, such as the weather and crop prices.
Junior Austin Davis was awarded third place in Dairy Production Placement for his work on his family’s 240-cow dairy farm, Chanlore Farms, Inc.
Ever since he can remember, Davis has been around the farm and cows, but he continually learns new tasks that keep him interested in the work he does.
Though he has the flexibility of working on his family farm, Davis still endures long hours and working in extreme weather conditions.
He said he also has a passion for the work he does.
Parliamentary Procedure takes second
There was also a new Parliamentary Procedure team that “had a huge mountain to climb after following in the footsteps of a team that has been working together for five years, before winning state last year,” Sawatzke said.
The new team, consisting of Carlie Barth, Cat Barth, Jessica Juncewski, Ashley Burkhardt, Linsey Strolberg, and Michaela Gallup, were dedicated to learning the skills of parliamentary procedure in order to compete at state.
“In an astonishing move, the team advanced past the preliminary round and earned second place in their first year at the advanced level,” Sawatzke reported.
Barth, who participated in novice last year, was really surprised at their placing, explaining that Howard Lake-Waverly -Winsted and Forest Lake are the team’s biggest competitors. “Neither made it into the finals, so we were very shocked,” he said.
The team will have another shot at state next year, and hope to advance to nationals.
“We wouldn’t have gotten this far without Coach Kevin Dahlman,” Barth said. “He’s the best coach, I’m convinced of that.”
Three earn state degrees
There were three DC FFA members who earned their state degrees senior Luke Dahlman, junior Lucas Salfer, and senior Katie Davis.
Members who earn state degrees are required to have an SAE in which they have earned or invested at least $2,000, and to have a record of involvement in agricultural education and FFA.
As part of Davis’ SAE, she has been raising 14 beef cows for the past four years, along raising bull calves to a certain weight and then selling them.
Earning the top FFA degree in the state was a goal she had wanted to accomplish before she graduated high school.
“Going to a higher degree shows how important it is to me to represent the FFA organization,” she said.
For Salfer, he has been working on various area dairy farms as part of his SAE. Such duties have included milking and feeding cows.
Through his experience, he has learned different record-keeping functions and how important hard work and motivation is; he has also become more responsible along the way, he said.
All three state degree recipients are now eligible to earn their American degree, the highest degree awarded to an FFA member.
Additional convention highlights
The DC FFA earned seventh place for the National Chapter Award and will move on to the National Convention, to be rated one-, two-, or three-star this fall, according to Sawatzke.
The chapter also was awarded $100 as a winner of the Chapter Exchange of Ideas, for traveling to other schools in the state to teach other FFA members how to conduct proper Parliamentary Procedure.
The chapter was also recognized for raising a cumulative of over $55,000 for Camp Courage as part of its Corn Drive each fall.
Also taking part at the convention were Alex Hauck and James Lundquist, who participated in the State Talent Show in front of a crowd of 3,000 attendees.
In addition, Hauck, along with Colee Jennissen, Jordann Hoernemann, Alex Piepenburg, Allison Basney, and Zach Grochow, participated as members of the State FFA Chorus. They are all able to apply for the National Chorus to have a chance to sing at the national convention this fall.
The Nursery Landscaping Team, consisting of Carlie Barth, Cat Barth, Ashley Burkhardt, and Allison Baatz, earned sixth place. The Dairy team also earned sixth place.