Consistency is key for HLWW FFA
By Carol Stender
Date Modified: 05/30/2012 1:29 PM
HOWARD LAKE — Consistency.
It's a good description for Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted's ag program and FFA chapter.
The chapter has had repeated success at the Minnesota FFA Convention for a decade. The chapter has had five state officers and has been among the state's top chapters.
James Weninger, HLWW ag instructor and FFA adviser, said success stems from strong support from the school administration, alumni, the community and student dedication.
Seena Glessing joined the program two years ago and teaches a diverse ag curriculum.
Chapter alumni are used as advisers, Weninger said. They make suggestions on curriculum to help prepare students for agricultural careers. Alumni also coach judging teams and work with FFAers on community projects.
"It's a huge experience for those kids," Weninger said. "It's invaluable because the students learn a lot from alumni members."
The alumni become invested in them.
"They'll ask how students are doing," Glessing said. "They make a connection."
The chapter had first-place teams in food science, agricultural communications, floriculture and nursery and landscape. The chapter was third in the state for the National FFA Chapter, and Sabrina Kieser was elected state secretary.
"That community support is vital to our success," said HLWW senior Sarah Marketon. "Whether it's the alumni working with our judging teams or community members giving donations to the school, it has an impact. There is a ripple effect. They might not see the direct benefit of their support, but it definitely has an effect on the kids."
The chapter's winning ways started a decade ago, when it won its first CDE, Weninger said. When students saw how their hard work paid off, they applied themselves more.
"Success breeds success," he said.
Students see the value of ag programs and FFA. Jackson Triplett is one of those students.
Triplett hails from nearby Maple Lake. In August, he decided to open-enroll at HLWW.
"We don't advocate against any school," Weninger said. "We just see the benefits of an ag education program."
Triplett is part of the nursery landscape team and was top individual in the best informed Greenhand contest.
"This has opened my eyes to more agricultural careers," he said. "There's more in agriculture than ag production."