By Starrla Cray
HOWARD LAKE, WAVERLY, WINSTED, MN The hard work of Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School FFA paid off big at this year’s state convention, with several number-one finishes.
“I lost my voice from all the screaming, because we won so many things,” commented Gabriell (Bella) Bayerl.
The chapter as a whole won first place for “land of service” and “agricultural literacy,” and was also honored with the National Chapter Award.
Three teams were state champions, including:
• best informed greenhand team 1 Cody Dickhausen, Anthony Lueck, Rebecca Uecker, Macenzie Ramola, and Bethany Groos;
• nursery/landscape Kylee Sherod, Bella Bayerl, Savanna Weber, and Jenna Benson; and
• agricultural issues Maddie Weninger, Bella Bayerl, Keith Lent, Lauren Painschab, Naomi Hinojis, and Kylee Sherod.
Senior Maddie Weninger, daughter of Jim “Winnie” and Lisa Weninger, was elected as the 2017-18 Minnesota FFA sentinel.
In addition to Weninger, newly-elected state FFA team members include Spencer Flood of Dassel-Cokato, 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.
The interview process to become a state officer is an eight-part process. Eighteen finalists are chosen from a written application to compete.
“All of the candidates are top-notch at that point, and all have a passion for FFA,” Weninger said.
Interviews started April 22, right before the state convention, and concluded April 23. Officers were announced Tuesday, the last day of the convention.
“That was a long wait,” Weninger commented.
As a state officer, her first event will be a training conference called “Blast Off” later this week.
She is looking forward to getting to know the other officers better, as she has already served with some of them through other FFA activities.
While serving next fall, Weninger plans to attend South Dakota State University to study ag education and Spanish.
Many HLWW FFA members had a successful time at the state conference, which took place at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.
Senior Keith Lent, for instance, was named individual state champion for milk quality, and his team took second place.
“I was really surprised to see my name for milk quality,” he said. “I was very shocked and really proud of myself.”
The competition involved identifying substances that alter milk flavor, identifying cheese varieties, and a test about milk production and marketing.
Lent was also part of the first-place agricultural issues team.
“We had to pick a topic in agriculture and research what kind of problem it was, identifying pros and cons,” he said. “Our issue was the industrialization of hemp.”
Next school year, Lent plans to study food science and horticulture at South Dakota State University.
Other individual first-place finishers included Cody Dickenhausen for best informed greenhand, and Kylee Sherod for nursery landscaping.
“For the [nursery landscaping] contest, we had to identify 50 different types of trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, diseases, and weeds,” Sherod said.
Participants also completed a 40-question test, a 20-question practicum about landscaping, and two different landscaping rankings.
A few other awards are as follows:
• Best informed greenhand team 2, fourth place: Alexa Schumann, Zach Gohmann, Harlie Amland, and Calista Decker.
• Milk quality, second place: Keith Lent, Lauren Painschab, Elizabeth Krienke, and Sabrina Paul.
• Parliamentary procedure received third place: Morgan Frank, Brook Lorenson, Luke Groos, Savanna Weber, Elizabeth Krienke, and Alex Bestul.
• Soils, third place: Alexis Mueleners, Nicole Baumann, Brook Lorenson, and Melissa Kirby.
• Conduct of chapter meetings, fifth place: Macenzie Ramola, Anthony Lueck, Zach Gohmann, Cody Dickhausen, Neva Diers, Rebecca Uecker, and Harlie Amland.
• Extemporaneous speaking, fifth place: Maddie Weninger.
• Floriculture, fifth place: Lauren Munn, Morgan Frank, Jordyn Tuchtenhagen, and Elizabeth Arens.
• Creed speaking, sixth place: Bethany Groos.
• Market plan, eighth place: Elizabeth Montgomery, Lane Kadlec, and Jordyn Munson.
• Farm business management, ninth place: Colton Niesen, Hannah Scherping, Kaitlyn Decker, and Zach Uter.
• Proficiency award in vegetable production, first place: Maddie Weninger.
• Proficiency award in swine production entrepreneurship, third place: Savanna Weber.
• Proficiency award in equine entrepreneurship, second place: Amanda Olson.