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Minnier credits FFA with giving him tools to lead his community

By Jean Caspers-Simmet

Date Modified: 02/02/2012 9:10 AM

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Aredale, Iowa — Jeremy Minnier presided over his first council meeting as Aredale mayor on Jan. 16.

Prior to the meeting, the 18-year-old sent out post cards inviting people to participate and telling them when and where the city council meets. Twenty 20 people were at the meeting compared to the six that typically show up.

Minnier loves landscaping, something he learned through his summer job at North Country Landscaping. He has 35 ewes, three Holstein steers and some ducks on acreage his family owns southeast of Aredale. He built one of the two buildings on the site and did the landscaping including building a fountain. He also manages a 4,500-head hog confinement site southwest of Aredale.

He mows a few lawns in Aredale, has laying hens and brings eggs to his teachers. He shows sheep at the county and state fair. He also races homing pigeons and tends a vegetable and flower garden.

He wants to study landscaping after high school graduation. He'll start at North Iowa Area Community College because he wants to live in Aredale.

Minnier and FFA advisor Dave Bowman agree that one of the things that sparked an interest in his civic duty was attending the FFA Washington Leadership Conference as a sophomore.

On the way to the conference, they stopped at the Shanksville, Penn., Flight 93 crash site, spent a day and a half at Gettysburg, toured Hersey's, spent time in New York City and visited George Washington's estate.

"In Gettysburg so many people died for our freedom," Bowman said. "Hershey was a servant leader building homes for his workers and to this day there are orphanages there that he started. In New York City we saw Ground Zero, the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. George Washington set the foundation for this country."

From there they spent five days at the Washington conference.

"We talked about civic responsibility, learned about people who made a difference and looked at what we could to do to make our home towns better," Minnier said.

Minnier will attend the conference again this summer.

When he was a youngster, Minnier spent his time talking to his neighbors and helping them rake yards, weed flowers and clean gutters instead of sitting in the house playing video games.

"If someone needed something, he'd help them," Bowman said. "Jeremy was elected mayor because he is a great young man who takes an interest in people. He really loves his town."

Minnier said he learned parliamentary procedure and how to run a meeting through FFA. He also gained leadership skills.

"My heart used to get going 100 mile per hour when I had to get up in front of people, and now I have no problem giving a speech," he said. "Now I can talk to anyone."

At a recent FFA meeting led by Minnier, the chapter talked about FFA Week activities, getting ready for contests, the FFA test plot and the FFA auction.

There are 77 members in the Hampton-Dumont FFA, just three more than the population of Aredale.

"I want all my students to find something they like to do and then go after it with their whole heart," Bowman said.

Minnier carries a little brown book in his pocket where he keeps all his notes. He's added several pages since his first council meeting.

Aredale needs to do something about its septic systems and wells. Some are not up to code, and Minnier is looking at how to fund improvements. He plans to attend a seminar by the Iowa DNR in Mason City to learn more about options for improving septic systems.

The city ordinances need to be updated, and he and some of the council members are thinking about taking a pay cut. He'd like to improve the overall appearance of the city and replace the weathered welcome signs. Landscaping around city hall and putting up a flag pole are also among his plans.

Bowman beams as Minnier talks about FFA, his various jobs and his new duties as mayor.

"You offer a hint here and a hint there, and then your heart just pitter patters because you're so proud," said Bowman.