Isabella Portner named national winner; Harley Braun is a runner up; more honors bestowed on SE FFA!

More than 64,000 student leaders swarmed Indianapolis, Ind. at the 90th National FFA Convention Oct. 24 to 27. The streets were flooded with blue jackets as students spread the message of agriculture, learned about leadership and service, competed in rigorous career development events and met fellow FFA members from across the nation.

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.

Twenty-six Sleepy Eye FFA members and four adult chaperones attended the national convention.

The Sleepy Eye FFA chapter had two national proficiency finalists—Isabella Portner and Harley Braun. Portner was named the national winner for the Dairy Production Entrepreneurship Proficiency Award. She earned two plaques and $1,000 in prize money. Braun was named runner up for the National Ag. Education Proficiency Award and was awarded with a plaque and $500.

Portner and Braun were each one of only four people chosen to compete for their specific award areas in national competition. Proficiency awards recognize outstanding student achievement in agriculture. Portner and Braun became eligible for the national award after winning the Minnesota State FFA competition earlier this year. During the national convention, each presented a two-minute opening statement and then were asked numerous questions in a 15-minute interview. On Oct. 27, the winners were announced on stage at the Sixth Session of the National FFA Convention.

Two Sleepy Eye FFA Career Development Event (CDE) teams—Milk Quality & Products and Poultry—also got to compete at the national level. The Milk Quality team placed 12th in the nation earning silver. Sarah Rossbach placed gold individually and Isabella Portner, Courtney Sellner and Lauren Klein placed silver individually. The Poultry team placed 17th, also earning silver. McKenzie Cselovszki placed gold individually and Trey Heiderscheidt, Crystal Portner and Parker Neid placed silver individually.

Fourteen Sleepy Eye FFA members competed in the National Quiz Bowl Contest during National Convention week. The Quiz Bowl Contest consists of taking a 100-question knowledge test on history and current information of FFA.

Sleepy Eye’s National Quiz Bowl Team #1—Cali Rossbach, Martina Nienhaus, Abby Hoffmann and Emma Fischer, placed 10th out of 43 teams. Rossbach was the team’s high scorer, earning 21st out of 145 individuals.

National Quiz Bowl Team #2—Brittney Dittbenner, Kathryn Schroepfer, Edwin Flores, and McKenna Dockter, placed 28th out of 43 teams and Dittbenner was the team’s top scorer.

National Quiz Bowl Team #3—Kalli Christensen, Crystal Hecht and Isabel Martinez, placed 24th out of 43 teams. The top scorer on Team #3 was Christensen.

The Sr. National Quiz Bowl Team—Paige Romberg, Morgan Hoffmann and Maranda Braulick—placed 20th out of 41 teams. Romberg was the high scorer, placing 24th out of 142 individuals.

Isabel Martinez, Edwin Flores and Brittney Dittbenner participated in a National FFA Focus Group on diversity while attending national convention.

The Sleepy Eye FFA chapter was one of only four Minnesota chapters named a Three Star National Chapter. The Star ranking—one, two or three, with three being the highest rank—recognizes chapters for growing leaders, building communities, and strengthening agriculture activities as highlighted in their National Chapter Award application. Officers Maranda Braulick and Macy Schenk accepted this award on behalf of the chapter.

Sleepy Eye FFA advisor, Mary Hoffmann, received her Honorary American Degree at the 90th National Convention. The award is for teachers who have created high-quality agricultural education programs which inspire and motivate their students to strive for success. State FFA Associations submit nominations for this national honor. Qualifications include that 85 percent of the teacher’s agriculture students must have been in FFA in the last year and the teacher must have been teaching agriculture for at least ten years.

Finally, the Sleepy Eye FFA Chapter had seven American FFA Degree Recipients. They include Harley Braun, Kacie Goblirsch, Austin Fischer, Ashley Johnson, Justin Kotten, Matthew Miller, Bethany Seifert.

In addition to attending the convention, FFA members also had the opportunity to attend several tours, including: Ozark Fisheries, Not Just Popcorn, and Broken Wagon Bison Farms. Members learned about various aspects of agriculture, from traditional to nontraditional, while on these tours. The convention also featured a country music concert by Runaway June and the Rascal Flats, as well as a hypnotist show.

While at the national convention, several Sleepy Eye FFA members took time to work behind the scenes at the KNUJ Media Booth. They assisted Jim Bartels in interviewing different FFA chapters from around the state of Minnesota about their convention experiences and FFA activities. Members who volunteered included Kelsie Domeier, Hannah Schroepfer, Morgan Hoffmann, Paige Romberg, McKenna Dockter, Martina Nienhaus, Maranda Braulick, Emma Fischer, Kathryn Schroepfer and Macy Schenk. Twelve Sleepy Eye members were also interviewed on the radio about their own FFA experiences and activities.

“I am so very proud of all of my students who attended and competed at nationals,” said FFA Advisor Mary Hoffmann. “They worked very hard to achieve their level of success and it was extremely exciting to see them do so well. Less than one percent of FFA members in the nation earn the opportunity to compete at the national level and we had over 13 percent of our Sleepy Eye members competing this year. What an elite group to be a part of!”

“We also want to acknowledege our Sleepy Eye Ag. Boosters, local businesses and the Sleepy Eye school district for supporting our national competitors and convention delegates,” said Advisor Nathan McMullen. “Without their support many of our members would not have had the funds to attend the convention which helps them learn about career opportunities, leadership and service.”