It’s been a week or two since the schools around Carver County finished up their 2018-2019 year. Along with them, several school-sponsored organizations are also looking back on their year, such as NYA’s FFA.
Now in its 70th year, the FFA has evolved to go beyond “plows, sows, and cows”, according to Jim Mesik, agriculture education teacher for Central Schools and FFA advisor. Avid readers of the paper will know that while, yes, some students and are from dairy and farming families, there are just as many interested in subjects such as small animal care(dogs and cats), wildlife, and even mechanics. Back in 1949, this wasn’t the case as it was far more about farming.
“Basically, if it was a club run for future farmers, we’d have considerably fewer members,” said Mesik. “We just have less people who are farming, so it’s just been diversified. I have a ton of people that are never going to work in agriculture, and that’s okay.”
It doesn’t change its importance in the community, though. Students get to try their hands at a variety of topics, and even get various leadership opportunities. Sometimes it’s manning stations at fairs and events, and others it will be presenting at competitions around the state or receiving awards. No matter what the students choose to focus on and study, there’s a plethora of opportunities for each to have, no matter the age.
Because many of the activities involve being outdoors, this year’s winter was unfavorable to say the least and even the rainy spring has been giving most outdoor groups a challenge.
“From a weather perspective, we never really got a break on anything,” said Mesik. “FFA-wise, though, it was a good year.”
A large group of the current FFA students from this year are seniors, so they are actually graduating out of the program. While Mesik stated that this bittersweet, the next group of kids will have tons of opportunities to try out the program.
As for recent events, the FFA had an awards night to celebrate the accomplishment of various members. Most of the students at least lettered in the FFA for their participation, according to Mesik, and some even received FFA Degrees. The Discovery Degree is given to those transitioning from middle school to high school, and Jessica Tober -- who shows dairy cattle, judges dairy cattle, and works on the small animal team -- received the Star Discovery Degree. The Greenhand Degree is given to freshman moving into sophomore year, and the Star winner in this category was Hailey Buckentin, part of the poultry and wildlife teams. Dylan Zellmann earned the Chapter Degree, the highest possible degree an FFA member can receive, for his work as a dairy-handler and on the poultry team. Finally, Samantha Schoenbauer earned the DeKalb Ag Accomplishment Award from serving as an officer for three years, leading the chapter through many projects during her time.
Speaking of officers, there’s a whole new team this year. Abby Pysick will be serving as president, Malaya Weekley as VP, Audrey Kamps will be secretary, Dylan Zellmann the treasurer, Mya Perez the reporter, CJ Dietzel the sentinel, and Hailey Buckentin will serve as the historian. Emma Dettmann, Aurdrey Steinhagen, Madelyn Traver, and Samantha Schoenbauer have all been offered scholarships for their work in the FFA, and Mesik himself stated, “Being in the FFA looks good when applying for college.”
Just because the school year is over doesn’t mean the chapter has stopped working. In fact, the NYA FFA will be at events and festivals throughout the summer including the Carver County Fair. Mesik also would like to thank all the community for their support of the chapter for the year.