Sleepy Eye FFA Virtual Tour Day is success

Carmen Lendt
FFA Chapter Reporter
The FFA Tour Day this year was held socially distant and virtually, but members were able to learn from nine different presenters in five different agriculture career pathways.

On July 7, the Sleepy Eye FFA hosted a social distanced “Virtual Ag Tour Day.” Thirteen members attended the tour day in the Ag. rooms and learned about careers in five different Agriculture Pathways, including plant, animal, technology, education, and natural resources. Members who attended were Presley Bauer, Miah Brown, Katelyn Capacia, Morgan Hoffmann, Alex Joramo, Adam Johnson, Carmen Lendt, Nayzeth Luna, Leisha Martinez, Priscilla Martinez, Envy Morales, Sophie Portner, and Antonio Ruiz. The day started off with a pancake breakfast at 8:30 a.m., followed by seven tour stops.

The first presenter was Phil Schrock, an urban forester who owns the company “Enchanted Forests.” He talked to members about being an entrepreneur and about his business that involves tree trimming, pruning, and removal. Schrock said his favorite part about his job is getting to meet new people and being able to help them out with any tree situation.

The next presenters were Troy Stauffnecker, Carl Eittenburg, and Eleora DeMuth. They were from two companies that worked together in processing and marketing turkeys, Northern Pride and Protein Alliance. Northern Pride, Inc. is a grower-owned turkey processing facility located in Thief River Falls. Northern Pride helps northern US turkey farmers take pride in their efforts. The agricultural cooperative processes some 20,000 turkeys a day. They work exclusively with Protein Alliance for the marketing of their whole turkey product. Protein Alliance is a fully integrated, global meat brokerage and trading company, providing a diverse product line of proteins from all of the major processes in the United States. Their services also include turkey genetics, farm production, processing plant management, and domestic and international sales.

Then the members met with Marie Carity, the Miami East (Ohio) High School Ag. teacher, while she was at the Junior National Hog Show in Iowa. She gave a tour of the show in Des Moines where her children were showing. They raise hogs on their farm and Marie also teaches agriculture and advises FFA. Her students have been in an Ag. Exchange program with Sleepy Eye for the past four years.

Next, we heard from Natasha Mortensen who works for Riverview Dairy LLP, were they specialize in raising beef and dairy, as well as crop production and construction. She started the presentation with the company’s mission statement, “Providing a culture of opportunity for passionate people and innovative ideas.” What began as a family-owned crop and beef farm, in 1939 in Morris, has grown into a multi-faceted, ever-changing partnership that spans across the states of Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Arizona, and New Mexico. Mortensen also discussed the core values of the company including: Be Kind, Be Safe, Candor, Integrity, Keep it Simple, Spirit of Humility, and Strong Work Ethic.

Half way through the tour the members were given a nacho lunch, provided by the school. After that they met Ian Almquist who is a groundskeeper for the Minnesota Twins. He showed all of the different types of equipment they use to prepare the field. Almquist also gave a tour and discussed what a typical day is like for a groundskeeper, what he does to get the field ready for a game day, as well as what is done on a daily basis at the Twins stadium.

Next, the members heard from Leo Dunleavy in Wisconsin who told us about his experience as a mechanical engineer. He expressed how being open to many career options has led to different jobs throughout his life, including his current position. Dunleavy talked about how having relationships and listening to customers is the greatest way to improve company products and productivity. His advice was the quote, “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

To end the day, we heard about Eric Hoffmann, who teaches at the University of Montana Western and is the head instructor at La Cense Montana. He has taught the natural horsemanship classes at Montana Western since 2008. Hoffmann teaches students to learn the importance of getting their horses to work more willingly in order to accomplish a task or job. We also saw some videos and photos of Hoffmann working with beef cattle at the ranch. He was roping calves in order to vaccinate and tag them. Hoffmann shows that there are many avenues in life where you can use your passions to teach others.

All in all, everyone really enjoyed getting to know and learn about the wide variety of careers in agriculture through this virtual tour experience.