This year two members from the South Dakota FFA Association took home American Star awards from the 89th National FFA Convention & Expo in Indianapolis. Shane A. Mueller, Garretson FFA Chapter, won the American Star in Agribusiness and Elizabeth Renner, West Central FFA earned the American Star in Agriscience.
This isn’t the first time the state has done well at National’s. So what’s their secret?
“The quality of our FFA members. We are constantly complimented on the professionalism, talent, and work ethic of our members,” said Michelle Nelson, South Dakota FFA advisor. “They aren’t just leaders within our organization – they also take on active roles in their schools and communities. Many of our past members have become great leaders for our state.”
The state’s 84 chapters current membership is 4,397, but Nelson expects those numbers to increase as more members join the program throughout the winter and into the spring term. At the end of the 2015-16 school year, South Dakota had 730 alumni members.
“For such a small state, (roughly 4,300 members out of nearly 650,000 nationwide) our members have experienced great success at the national level,” Nelson said. “We are only the fourth state to ever have two American Star winners in the same year. The others are Minnesota (1977), Nebraska (2005) and Wisconsin (2002/2003/2004/2009). We routinely have national finalists for the star awards, proficiency awards, national chapter awards and the agriscience fair; as well as success in various career development events. We have had several national winners in all of these areas as well.”