FFA state degrees 2017

From left, Litchfield FFA members Jordan Niece, Rachel Turck, Jayden Nelson and Jennah Anderson earned state degrees, the organization’s highest rank at the high school level.

Litchfield FFA’ers say “family” accurately describes their chapter.

The bond members of Litchfield High School FFA share signifies the chapter’s theme for the 2016-17 season: “Stay connected.”

This year, members displayed the words “Family. Friends. Agriculture.” on their shirts to convey the importance of forming friendships, maintaining strong family ties and connecting with the community and those who work in agriculture.

Members credited mutual support for competitive success.

Some chapter members have their sights set on the national convention this fall.

Last spring, 30 of the chapter’s 49 members competed in the state convention at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, with one team and one individual qualifying for the FFA National Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana.

In addition, four Litchfield FFA members — Jennah Anderson, Jayden Nelson, Jordan Niece and Rachel Turck — were awarded the FFA State Degree, the highest rank attainable in high school. Students who receive this degree must meet minimum requirements including participation in community service, Supervised Agricultural Experiences and agriculture classes, a process that requires a significant amount of work and an extensive amount of work, including detailed record keeping.

Kylee Kohls, a 2017 LHS grad, took first in Prepared Public Speaking at state this year, qualifying to compete at the national convention.

The Chapter Conduct of Meetings team also placed first, qualifying for the national convention. Members are Joey Carlson, Anna Euerle, Jacob Huhn, Miles Kerstein, Cole Lawrence, Dane Lewis and Logan Peterson.

The Parliamentary Procedure team — Natalie Barka, Courtney Carlson, Thomas Leyendecker, Laura Shoutz, Sara Shoutz and Turck — took sixth out of 18 teams at state, including six that made it to the final round.

In all, 10 Litchfield FFA teams competed at the state convention this year. Members qualified for state at a region contest at Ridgewater College last winter. First-place teams and individuals qualify for the national convention.

“It was fun. It was exciting being on stage,” said Kerstein, a first-timer to the state convention this year.

Laura Shoutz, the current chapter president, has attended the state convention since she was an eighth-grader. “I think it was a good experience, because we were a novice team last year,” she said of the parliamentary procedure group.

The parliamentary procedure and chapter conduct teams had several practices prior to competing. Both groups had to answer oral and written questions.

“When we found out both parli teams made the finals, it was pretty exciting,” Leyendecker said.

“Pretty good group of kids,” FFA advisor Rob Cole said. “We had a really remarkable group of seniors,” he said, noting that their strong leadership influenced the successes of all chapter members.

Underclassmen, Cole said, demonstrated growth and have great potential. “I’m looking forward to seeing what they do.”

Each October, nearly 63,000 FFA members and guests from across the country participate in general sessions, competitive events, educational tours, leadership workshops, an expo and volunteer activities at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis. It is one of the largest annual student conventions in the world.

“We’ve brought in a lot of new kids,” Laura Shoutz said of the Litchfield chapter. “Seeing them not know anything about FFA to being super involved and finding a passion for something and being able to grow, it’s pretty cool to see.”

Leyendecker enjoys being with friends most about participating in FFA. “It’s like your own secondary family.”

“I think that’s a pretty accurate description of this group,” Cole said in response to Leyendecker.

“They know how to do work when it’s time to do work, and they know how to play when it’s time to play ... And they’ve got each other’s back,” Cole said.

“There are a lot of times when someone needs some help, and it’s just a phone call away, and that is really just a neat thing,” Cole said. “That,” he added, “impresses me more than anything else that happened this year.”

Ellarry Prentice is editor of the Independent Review.

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