Minnesota announces 2012-13 state officer team
By Janet Kubat Willette
Date Modified: 05/21/2012 1:24 PM
Minnesota's 2012-13 state officer team was announced on April 24 during the fourth and final session of the 83rd Minnesota FFA Convention.
Officers are Mic Skaar, sentinel, Albert Lea; Jared Luhman, Goodhue, reporter; Nathan Daninger, Forest Lake, treasurer; Sabrina Kieser, Howard Lake Waverly Winsted, secretary; Marjorie Schleper, Upsala, vice president, and Shawna Conrad, Goodhue, president.
Twenty-one people competed for state officer, an experience that changes a person no matter what the results, said Liz Rabbe, chairwoman of the nominating committee.
The selection process starts and finishes before convention begins. There are three rounds on Saturday prior to convention and two on Sunday.
The process includes one-on-one interviews with each of the nominating committee members, a stand and deliver speech and a round robin where they role play a situation, such as how to get students more involved in FFA.
The rounds begin at 8 a.m. Saturday and conclude at 9 p.m. and begin anew at 8 a.m. Sunday. They conclude at 6 p.m. Sunday, just as convention gets underway.
"It was the longest interview process I've been through in my life," said Shawna Conrad, Minnesota FFA president.
But through the process she bonded with the 20 other people vying to be a state officer. It was very emotional and they became family in those two days of shared experience.
The last step is a personal interview, where interviewers ask personal questions you don't want to talk about, said Jared Luhman, Minnesota FFA reporter. It was an intense couple days.
Then, it was about waiting.
The fourth and final session seems to stretch on forever as winning teams of career development events are called upon stage to receive awards.
"I was happy for every CDE group up there," Luhman said, but he admitted he wanted the process to go faster.
Conrad said the two and a half hour session felt like it lasted three years. It did help that she was busy back stage getting CDE teams lined up to go on stage. As Region 8 president, she spent the past year working with the six constitutional officers and her convention duties included helping backstage during sessions.
Schleper is studying animal science at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
She ran to give back to FFA. The organization instilled confidence in her, turning her from shy and insecure to someone who has enough confidence to run for state office.
It's hard to select just one reason she wanted to run, as there's so many people she's met and camps she's attended that have been stepping stones along the way. Perhaps the one event that persuaded her to go for it was a leadership camp she attended two years ago. The state officers she helped put in office as part of the nominating committee ran that camp. She saw their impact and realized she wanted to do that too.
That doesn't surprise her mother, Gretchen Schleper, who is also her FFA adviser and agricultural education teacher. Marjorie sought out kids who needed to find a niche and found a place for them in FFA, Gretchen said. She saw potential in younger students and nurtured them.
She'll be in her glory as state FFA officer, writing curriculum for workshops and conducting workshops for younger students. Marjorie enjoys being in the instructive mode, her mother said.
She and her mother are very close, Marjorie said. She always seems to know when she needs to call to help her work through a problem or to offer a word of advice.
"She always can offer that right piece of advice," Marjorie said.
Her younger sister, Audrey, is also heavily involved in FFA and her father, Mark, is always there to offer support. Last year, she served as Region 2 president and her father would shuttle her from River Falls to events in the region.
The Luhman family has been farming for as far back as Jared Luhman knows. His father, Jon, raises grass fed beef and organic crops. His mother, Holly Fifield, is a nurse at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
His father is a past FFA district officer. His cousin, Val Aarsvold, was Goodhue's most recent state officer before he and Shawna Conrad were selected this year. Aarsvold was a state officer in 1990-91.
FFA has changed his life in many ways over the past two to three years, Luhman said. A desire to give back propelled him to apply for state office.
A Goodhue senior, Luhman plans to attend the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in the fall and major in agricultural education. He plans to come back and farm with his father.
Conrad knows her mission in life is to serve people and she ran for state officer to serve the 9,000 plus FFA members in Minnesota. Her role models include her brother, Chris, her father, Ray, and her adviser, Lee Thompson. National FFA secretary Jason Troendle is another role model.
Conrad's cousin, Amber Hilleshiem introduced her to FFA. She took her to help unload watermelons for Goodhue's Volksfest.
Conrad found her place in FFA, serving as assistant officer, vice president, president, parliamentarian and secretary in her chapter and assistant officer and president in Region 8. She competed in Creed Speaking in ninth grade and in Prepared Public Speaking in grades 10 through 12. She won the competition this year and will compete at the National FFA Convention, in addition to her duties as a state FFA officer.
A Goodhue senior, Conrad plans to attend South Dakota State University in Brookings in the fall to study agricultural education leadership and communications. She plans to be an agricultural education teacher and maybe someday a faith-based motivational speaker.