By Starrla Cray
DASSEL, COKATO, MN The Dassel-Cokato High School FFA team took home an array of awards at last week’s state convention.
The parliamentary procedure team won the state event, earning a trip to Indianapolis, IN this fall to compete at the National FFA convention. Team members include Emma Erickson, Katie Hendrickson, Natalia Marttinen, Spencer Flood, Kaitlyn Niska, and Melissa Moy.
Also, a chapter record of seven members earned their state FFA degrees, including Emma Erickson, Alicia Johnson, Nick Selseth, Calyn Rieger, Sarah Munson, Kaitlyn Niska, and Lydia Meredith.
Senior Spencer Flood, daughter of Mark and Corynn Flood of Cokato, was elected as the 2017-18 Minnesota FFA treasurer.
“Spencer is only the second DC FFA member in history to be elected to state office,” noted ag teacher Eric Sawatzke. (The first was Pam Dahlman, in 2007-08.)
In addition to Spencer, newly-elected state FFA team members include Maddie Weninger of Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted, Kylee Kohls of Litchfield, Katie Benson of Staples-Motley, Emily Pliscott of Kenyon-Wanamingo, and Eleora DeMuth of Grand Rapids.
“It’s the first year in Minnesota FFA history that an all-girls’ team has been elected,” Weninger commented.
State officers spend their one-year term serving all 11,000 FFA members across Minnesota. They meet with agribusiness leaders at places such as Cargill, General Mills, and Land O’ Lakes, and they visit high schools to motivate FFA members to become effective leaders.
“Spencer will also have the opportunity to travel internationally, serve as a voice in the national FFA delegate process, serve on the Minnesota FFA Association board of directors, and be a spokesperson for ag education through many speaking engagements around the state,” Sawatzke noted.
The interview process to become a state officer is an eight-part process. Eighteen finalists are chosen from a written application to compete.
Interviews started April 22, right before the state convention, and concluded April 23.
Spencer said the process was “very nervewracking,” even though she is an experienced public speaker.
When the interviews were done, she had peace that she had given her best effort.
“I felt really confident, and I felt good afterward,” she said.
The officers were announced Tuesday, the last day of the convention.
“I’m incredibly thankful and humbled to be able to serve,” Spencer said.
A total of 41 FFA members from Dassel-Cokato High School participated in the convention, which took place at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.
New ag instructor Tracy Nelson, as well as about a dozen parents, grandparents, and past DC FFA members attended to help members prepare for their competitions, present in workshops, judge Career Development Events (CDEs), and run the Alumni Stop N’ Shop.
A few highlights from the convention are as follows:
• Nine out of 12 Dassel-Cokato CDE’s ranked in the top 10 in the entire state (There are about 185 FFA chapters in the state, but not all compete in every event.)
• Katrina Thinesen ranked first individually in the state for ag sales.
• Six members participated in the state FFA band: Lydia Meredith, Jack Zeidler, Eric Meredith, Calyn Rieger, Elizabeth Knudson, and Erynn Amundson.
• Grace Zeidler participated in the state FFA choir.
• DC FFA was given special recognition for donating more than $100,000 to Camp Courage over the past 56 years.
• Minnesota currently has a member serving on the national FFA officer team. Valerie Earley of southern Minnesota is one of six students to represent more than 600,000 FFA members nationwide. Early had planned to be at the convention, but she was instead flown to Washington, DC for a formal sit-down meeting with President Donald Trump to discuss current issues in agriculture and agricultural education.