FFA members compete, socialize at annual convention
By Janet Kubat Willette
Date Modified: 05/14/2012 3:43 PM
MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL, Minn. — The 83rd annual Minnesota FFA Convention brought 3,356 members and more than 500 guests to the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities for its April 22-24 run.
FFA members were honored for success in supervised agricultural experiences and competed in career development events. They listened to motivational speakers and met other FFA members from across the state.
An Ag Mechanics team from Foley was among the career development event teams competing. The team placed first in Region IV to advance to the state competition.
Ag Mechanics is a diverse CDE where participants have to weld, lay out rafters, identify skidloader parts and small engine parts, explained Foley seniors Dillon Gorecki and Luke Talberg. The also evaluate field tile systems and electrical systems and take a written exam.
Everything is timed, Gorecki said, and they moved from building to building on campus to complete their competition.
Milaca junior Jessica Hipsag competed in the dairy judging CDE. She and other members of her high school's four-person team looked at nine classes of cattle. They were looking for how well the udder was attached, body condition, straight legs and a flat back. They were good cows and difficult to judge, Hipsag said.
Laura Stobb, a Milaca freshman, judged soils. Her four-person team evaluated the quality of soil and determined whether or not that soil would be good for growing certain things. They also gauged the erosion potential of the soil.
Another Milaca FFA member, junior Mindy Rinkel, came to convention as a delegate. She attended meetings and sessions offered at convention. She enjoyed the state officer retiring addresses and a keynote address delivered by Rodd Whitney, a talent acquisition specialist with Monsanto.
The Belle Plaine FFA was celebrating after learning their Agricultural Sales CDE team placed first and qualified for national competition.
Last year, the team finished three points out of first, said senior Erin Morrison. After that, they were fired up to come back this year and win.
They topped second place Springfield by eight points. Springfield's Cole Milbrath was high individual in the competition. Erin and her sister, Kelly, were third and second high individual, respectively. Kelly is a junior.
The team practiced weekly to prepare for the competition, spending about an hour a week preparing. The sisters practiced at home when they couldn't sleep.
Erin has been on the Ag Sales team for four years and Kelly joined the team two years ago.
"I knew Kelly was going to be better than I was," Erin said.
In the ag sales competition, FFA members impersonate salespeople. They take a written test and also try to sell an ag-related product to a judge. There's also a team activity and an activity where they are given a situation and must role play. Erin, for example, had to role play a customer service person and Kelly had to do cold calling.
The team will have to practice via Skype in the fall as Erin is headed to Purdue.
At regional and state competitions, team members were able to pick any product to sell — the Morrison sisters sold cattle and teammates Michelle Covington and Jacob Schaffer sold Miracle Grow and a nutrition supplement for dogs, respectively. For national competition, they are told what they will sell.
Also headed to the national convention in Indianapolis this fall is a Poultry Evaluation team from Redwood Valley. The team placed six points out of second in 2011.
The well-rounded four-person team had four people in the top five in the competition.
Sophomore Macius Schroeder placed second, his sister, senior Rachel Schroeder placed third, senior Heather Kipfer placed fourth and freshman Caleb Krause placed fifth.
They practiced twice weekly before school. Practices generally lasted an hour. They also had assigned readings to do on their own.
The competition included a 25 question written exam on their poultry manual and an examination of carcasses. They also candled eggs and evaluated birds based on past production.
How did it feel to be upon the stage during the fourth and final session and have their name called as the winning team?
"I was really excited, being we were so close last year," Rachel said.