The Minnesota FFA state chapter had a stellar year at the 2016 National FFA Convention. Not only was Brett Petersen selected as the National FFA 2016 American Star in Agricultural Placement, Valerie Earley of the Spring Valley Wykoff FFA Chapter was elected to serve as the 2016-2017 National FFA Central Region Vice President.
Earley will now spend the next year with her fellow National FFA officers, spending more than 300 days on the road, visiting every state, Puerto Rico, and even Japan, while representing more than 649,000 FFA members nationwide. Prior to her national role, Earley served as the 2015-2015 Minnesota State FFA Secretary.
The last time Minnesota had a student elected to the National FFA Officer team was 2011, according to Juleah Tolosky, Executive Secretary for the Minnesota FFA.
Tolosky said the national success Minnesota FFA members have had this year all stems from the local level.
“The heart of the organization is at the chapter level,” Tolosky said. “We provide opportunities for students on the local level to showcase what they know and take it to the next level, but all of our accomplishments reflect back on the efforts made in local classrooms and on the relationship built between local teachers and local students.”
Chartering in 1929 with the National FFA organization, Minnesota FFA membership now includes 11,000 students and 3,097 alumni from 180 chapters throughout the state. Many alumni are active in helping at the local level even if they are not formal members.
“We have adults and partners throughout the state who are acting as alumni without formally being members,” Tolosky said. “Virtually every chapter has a group of partners who make FFA possible for the students in that school.”
Other highlights for Minnesota FFA this year at the National FFA Convention include:
– Minnesota teams were among the very best in the nation in agriculture and education-based competitions known as Career Development Events. Out of 21 events, 12 Minnesota teams were ranked gold and seven were silver. Their Food Science team was the best in the nation. (Floriculture was 2nd).
– Minnesota students achieved significant recognition for their Supervised Agricultural Experiences. The state had 105 students earn the highest degree in the nation (the American FFA Degree), 13 students competed in the National FFA Agriscience Fair, 12 students were in the top four in their agricultural area for their proficiency award (and Minnesota students won the top spot for Agricultural Mechanics Design & Fabrication, Agricultural Mechanics Repair & Maintenance, Dairy Production, Diversified Crop Production, and Fiber and Oil Crop Production), and two students were finalists for American Star awards. Petersen won his area and David Stenzel from United South Central was a finalist for the American Star in Agribusiness award.
“For perspective, in an organization of 649,000 students, there are only 16 students who are finalists each year,” Tolosky said.
The last Minnesota recipient of the National FFA Star in Agricultural Placement was Miles Kuschel in 2004 … however the state has boasted a number of student finalists in each of the four Star areas over the years.
“I think what I’m proudest of for our state, our chapters, and our students is that our students are prepared to be successful in a very well-rounded way,” Tolosky said. “We have national success in competitions, in leadership roles, and in awards for supervised agricultural experiences. Our students graduate ready to pursue careers, to solve problems, and to lead in their workplaces and in their communities.”