Forest Lake FFA receives national recognition

The Forest Lake National FFA Convention delegation toured Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, while in Louisville. From left: Advisor Veronica Ward, Amanda Stafford, Ben Plautz, Kyle Winberg, Randy Rehbein, Madelyn Smith, Kyra Quillen, Madison Anderson, Anna Waddel, Olivia Taylor and Luke Niemczyk.

The Forest Lake National FFA Convention delegation toured Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, while in Louisville. From left: Advisor Veronica Ward, Amanda Stafford, Ben Plautz, Kyle Winberg, Randy Rehbein, Madelyn Smith, Kyra Quillen, Madison Anderson, Anna Waddel, Olivia Taylor and Luke Niemczyk.

The national FFA organization selected the Forest Lake FFA as a Three Star National Chapter, placing it among the top tier of chapters nationwide.

Ten chapter members, with agriculture teacher Veronica Ward, attended the 86th National FFA Convention & Expo in Louisville, Ky., from Oct. 29 to Nov. 2.

The chapter was recognized on the national stage for this honor.

The convention is known as the largest student gathering in the United States, with this year’s event hosting over 60,000 members.

The National Chapter award program, sponsored by John Deere as a special project of the National FFA Foundation, recognized FFA chapters for developing and conducting a detailed program of activities. Each activity provides opportunities for members to excel in student, chapter, or community development. The Three Star rating is the highest level of accomplishment an FFA chapter can achieve.  The application was first evaluated by a state committee, where the Forest Lake FFA was named one of Minnesota’s Top Ten chapters, and then advanced to national competition.

“We are pleased to once again be honored among the top FFA chapters in the United States,” said Ward. “Our student leaders are dedicated to creating activities that serve our community and promote lifelong learning for future career success.”

Andrew Miron (2011 graduate) and Nathan Daninger (2012 graduate) received their American FFA degrees during the convention, recognizing them for demonstrated leadership ability and outstanding achievements in agricultural business, production, processing or service programs.

To be eligible, members must have earned and productively invested $7,500 through a supervised agricultural experience program in which they start, own or hold a professional position in an existing agriculture enterprise and serve 50 community service hours. Recipients must also make it their mission to demonstrate outstanding leadership abilities and community involvement.

The Forest Lake delegation attended leadership sessions and professional development workshops, participated in a college and career fair for youth and toured agricultural sites. They also visited Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, and learned about the importance of the equine industry.

Keynote speaker for this year’s event was Rick Pitino, head basketball coach of the Louisville Cardinals and author of the book “The One Day Contract.”

“The National FFA Convention was a great opportunity for me to explore college and career options,” stated chapter officer and delegate Luke Niemczyk. “I really enjoyed meeting FFA members from across the United States.”

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