Forest Lake’s chapter in the Future Farmers of America earned several honors at the organization’s state convention, which was held online May 19-21.
One of those awards was the Gold Award, which indicates their status as a Top Ten Chapter in Minnesota.
“This was a great year for us,” said Ann Tauzell, who teaches several agriculture education classes at Forest Lake Area High School while serving as one of the advisers for the Forest Lake FFA chapter. “The kids worked very hard, and they take pride in the activities we do throughout the year. And we get incredible support from our parents, the school administration and the community. That all contributes to our success, and we really value that support.”
Forest Lake was a state finalist in the “Growing Leaders” category of Models of Innovation Awards for a project called “Cocoa ‘n Canvas/Juice ‘n Jigs.”
“It was a mental health, personal development activity the students planned,” Tauzell said. “We drank cocoa while creating a piece of art – that’s the ‘canvas’ – while people who didn’t want to paint created fishing lures, or jigs, while drinking juice.”
Forest Lake also was the state winner in Ag Literacy, which focuses on teaching the community about the different areas included in agribusiness.
“Throughout the year we do things like going to the elementary schools and teaching lessons such as ‘Where does food come from?’” Tauzell said. “Normally in the spring we try to hold an open house so people can come to our building and learn more from colleges and ag commodity groups – all of the groups involved in the business of agriculture. This year we reached more than 8,000 people with our literacy activities.”
Three Forest Lake seniors – Maria Anderson, Rebecca Anderson and Benjamin Desrosier – received State FFA Degrees. There are nine steps involved in earning a state degree, including classroom instruction, leadership and community service requirements.
“Every student in our agriculture classes completes a Supervised Agricultural Experience,” Tauzell said. “Essentially that is a project having to do with agriculture, perhaps exploring a job experience or researching a topic and conducting experiments, or perhaps creating their own business. … The kids who earn this award really work hard on these projects over a number of years.”
Tauzell also was pleased to note that three students – Gracie Gregory, Autumn Huddleston and Abby Youngman – have decided to pursue a career in agriculture education.
“That’s cool for me, because when you’re involved in FFA you see the highs and lows of the students,” she said. “And when they decide that teaching in this field is something they want to do as a career, that’s really special. There is a shortage of ag teachers around the nation, so knowing that we’re adding to the field is really rewarding.”
Tauzell said the Forest Lake FFA chapter is committed to teaching others that agribusiness is more than someone riding a tractor or tending to herd animals.
“That’s especially true in our area,” she said. “In school I first heard the saying, ‘Agriculture is not just cows and plows,’ it’s a broad spectrum of careers in agriculture. There are so many opportunities in this field.”