The streets of Louisville, Ky. were flooded with blue jackets as more than 60,000 student leaders spread the message of agriculture, competed in rigorous career development events and met fellow FFA members from across the nation at the 86th Annual National FFA Convention held Oct. 30 through Nov. 2.
Students were exposed to an agricultural based career show, heard dynamic speakers and were inspired by energetic and motivating general sessions at the largest annual student convention in the country. Keynote speaker Rick Pitino, University of Louisville basketball coach, shared his 10-step process to success. Josh Sundquist inspired youth to take “falls” with stride and get back up again. Cancer survivor, Sundquist, encouraged students to try one more thing, one more time. The convention also featured a country music concert by Jana Kramer and Dierks Bentley.
Twenty-three Sleepy Eye FFA members attended the national convention including: Lauren Laffen, Natalie Stevens, Jeni Kotten, Josie Schieffert, Jacob Rossbach, Kolten Nienhaus, Matt Miller, Austin Trebesch, Jamie Fischer, Tia Cselovszki, Stephanie Hammerschmidt, Jordyn Domeier, Ashley Johnson, Kacie Goblirsch, Mary Rosenhammer, Ashley Helget, Cindy Hansen, Laura Rosenhammer, Elizabeth Johnson, Jessica Busch, Matt Pulley, Chris Seifert and Brandon Roiger, along with Mrs. Hoffmann and Ms. Brandt.
“I am very proud of all of my students who competed at nationals,” said FFA Advisor Mary Hoffmann. “They worked very hard to achieve success and it was extremely exciting to see them compete at such an esteemed level.”
The National Quiz Bowl Team comprised of Lauren Laffen, Natalie Stevens, Jeni Kotten, Kolten Nienhaus and Jacob Rossbach, received 13th place overall. Lauren Laffen was the top finisher on the team, finishing 33rd, followed by Natalie Stevens, who placed 37th. The Quiz Bowl Contest consists of taking a 100-question knowledge test on the history and current information of the FFA.
Also competing at the National FFA Convention was the National Poultry Team that included Brandon Roiger, Tia Cselovszki, Matt Miller and Jamie Fischer. The Poultry Team was recognized with a gold rating, earning 11th place in the nation. Brandon Roiger was the top finisher on the team, earning 24th place gold out of more than 150 individuals. Roiger was followed by Jamie Fischer, who received 33rd place gold. Miller and Cselovszki both earned a silver rating. The Poultry Competition is an event that covers many areas of producing and marketing poultry products. Members tested their knowledge of poultry, parts, carcasses, live birds, eggs and further processed products.
The Sleepy Eye FFA Chapter had two National Proficiency Finalists, Jessica Busch and Brandon Roiger. After first submitting their first place applications to Nationals this summer, they were chosen as two of the top four in the nation. Both received runner-up in the nation for their Proficiencies. Roiger was in the area of Home and/or Community Development and Busch competed in Ag.
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Communications. Both had interviews while in attendance at the National FFA Convention. The interviews contained a two minute introduction and 15 minutes of questions about Roiger and Busch’s Supervised Agricultural Experience Projects.
Josie Schieffert competed in the National FFA Creed Contest while attending convention. There were 48 competitors in this National Event out of 125,000 sophomores in the National FFA Organization. Schieffert had to deliver the creed and answer questions from the judges relating to the meaning of the FFA Creed. Schieffert received a bronze rating.
“I learned a great deal through the Creed Contest and the experience I had at Nationals. It was awesome to hear all of the different interpretations of the creed from students around the country,” Schieffert said.
Seven members of the Sleepy Eye FFA Chapter received their American FFA Degrees this year. The American FFA Degree is the highest degree attainable in the FFA and is achieved by less than one percent of the members.
Those receiving FFA Degrees included Josie Fischer, Jessica Busch, Cynthia Hansen, Elizabeth Johnson, Laura Rosenhammer and Christopher Seifert. Desirae Rose was unable to attend.
Representing the Sleepy Eye FFA Chapter, senior officers Jordyn Domeier and Stephanie Hammerschmidt, accepted the chapter’s 3 Star National Chapter Award for student, chapter and community development activities. They also worked behind the scenes at the KNUJ Media Booth on Thursday, where they assisted Larry Baumgardt and Jim Bartels in interviewing different FFA Chapters around the area. Laura Rosenhammer and Brandon Roiger also assisted in the News Room on Friday of convention.
In addition to attending the FFA Convention, members were also given the opportunity to tour the Louisville Slugger Museum, Churchill Downs and Glassworks. These were great experiences for the members to learn about three businesses that are important to the economy of Louisville, Ky.