Serving Minnesota and Northern Iowa.

FFAer achieves goal

By Janet Kubat Willette

Date Modified: 11/21/2012 1:25 PM

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WELLS, Minn. — Hayden Feist achieved one of his FFA goals last week when he stood onstage at the National FFA Convention as one of the top four proficiency finalists in the nation in agricultural mechanics design and fabrication placement.

Feist, of Wells, the son of Rick and Anne, was one of five members of the United South Central FFA chapter to be named a national proficiency finalist this year. Others of his chapter who were named national proficiency finalists: Jake Knutson, Dustin Dylla, Jared Eilertson and David Stenzel. Eilertson was named the national winner of the diversified crop production entrepreneurship proficiency.

National proficiency finalists were called onstage Oct. 26. The spotlight would switch from the left stage to the right stage as proficiency finalists were announced, Feist said. While the light was on one stage, finalists would file in in alphabetical order on the other. As the light moved back, the announcer would name each finalist, their chapter and their adviser before announcing the winner, which was followed by a brief slide show outlining what the person's proficiency was and the skills learned.

Feist used his supervised agriculture experience to audition possible career paths.

He applied skills learned through his SAE to the agricultural mechanics design and fabrication placement proficiency. Nationally, students competed in 49 proficiency areas this year.

Feist considered a career in structural agricultural engineering and got a job with Freeborn Pride Builders to explore that option. He put up grain bins, grain legs and grain dryers for three summers.

"It was a good summer job," Feist said.

He started on the concrete crew and worked his way up. He drove from Wells or Freeborn every day, sometimes spending two hours on the road before getting to the job site.

Ninety percent of his hours came from working for Freeborn Pride Builders, he said. The remaining 10 percent came from his job at Herman Manufacturing in Wells, where he made parts.

Feist shifted his career path toward agricultural systems technology and agronomy, which he is studying at South Dakota State University in Brookings. He is a sophomore. He's hoping to find a job that combines agronomy and technology.

Feist left for the 85th National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis around 5 a.m. Oct. 24. About 10 hours later, he was at convention.

He attended an orientation for national proficiency finalists that day and on Oct. 25, went before eight judges who asked questions about his proficiency. Winners were announced Oct. 26. On Oct. 27, Feist received his American FFA degree.

FFA, he said, is a group organization that brings out the best in a person.

As he moves to alumni status, Feist reflected on his FFA career.

"I think the best experience was being acknowledged as one of the top four in the nation," he said.