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KMS among state's three-star chapters

By Carol Stender

Date Modified: 11/21/2012 1:19 PM

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KERKHOVEN, Minn. —It's 7:30 a.m., and already the ag classroom at Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg is buzzing.

FFA members are making final preparations to attend the National FFA Convention Oct. 24-27 in Indianapolis.

Some students will compete in proficiency contests and others in agriscience. Five members — Michael Jahn, Casey Kreiger, Taylor Neal, Emily Wentzel and Hannah Wilts —will receive their American Degrees.

The KMS Chapter is one of 10 three-star chapters in Minnesota. Another eight chapters will be honored as two-star chapters. All are taking part in the National Chapter Awards Program.

To earn the distinction, each chapter completed an application that included highlights from community service, chapter development and student development.

For community service, KMS conducts a "Trick or Treat for Hunger" campaign. Members place a plastic bag at each home asking residents to fill them with cans of food. They pick the bags up a few days later and take the donations to the Benson Food Shelf. Last year they brought 950 pounds of food, said Jared Kreiger, KMS chapter and regional FFA treasurer.

Students can order flowers for Valentines Day through the FFA with proceeds committed to the food shelf. A father-daughter dinner is prepared and served by FFA members with games, activities and pictures part of the evening's fun. Eighty people attended last year's event, said chapter secretary Kelly Holt.

Chapter development projects include a community crop show where members, their parents and resdents can exhibit crop samples. The event takes place Nov. 20 at the KMS school in Kerkhoven. This marks the third year for the event, which has grown to 75 to 80 crop samples.

The chapter is involved in a community Easter egg hunt. Chapter members fill 2,000 plastic eggs with candy and place them in a Kerkhoven park. Before the hunt begins, FFA members, working with the Early Childhood Initiative, read to youngsters and give away books, according to KMS Chapter president Brett Petersen.

The chapter offers Friday Fun Activities. Chapter members place fun ag facts throughout the school. The activities are spread throughout the three towns that comprise KMS.

"It's crazy to see how many activities we are doing in a year," Krieger said.

Guiding the students is ag instructor and FFA advisor Christa Williamson, who's been with the ag program full-time since 2005. When she interviewed for the position, KMS was in a joint FFA chapter with Maccray Public School students, a consolidated district including the towns of Raymond, Clara City and Maynard. But Williamson thought KMS was large enough to sustain its own chapter. Over the past seven to eight years, the program has grown. Around 30 chapter members have received their degrees during that time. Several have competed at the national level.

When she became the advisor, there were two students whose efforts underclassmen followed. Brianna Jahn was active in 4-H public speaking contests. She used her abilities for FFA contests. Nick Lundberg was another student who excelled at school and who worked hard for the chapter. Together they laid the groundwork for the program and prompted other students to excel.

Many of those underclassmen were young junior high students who now are upperclassmen and mentoring young FFA'ers like they experienced from Jahn and Lundberg years ago.

The hard work has helped build KMS' ag program and its community and chapter efforts evident through its three star chapter honor.

Other three star chapters include Cedar Mountain FFA; Dassel-Cokato FFA; Forest Lake FFA; Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted FFA; Hutchinson FFA; Morris Area FFA; Princeton FFA; Red Wing FFA; and Sleepy Eye FFA.

Two star chapters are Academy for Sciences and Agriculture FFA; Belle Plaine FFA; Foley FFA; Perham FFA; Plainview-Elgin-Millville FFA; Redwood Valley FFA; Stillwater FFA; and Winona FFA.