FFA is an organization offered to middle and high school agriculture students where they can be a part of something that gives back to the community, as well as work side by side with it. FFA members have the opportunity to take part in different leadership events where they also get to meet new people around the United States. Our advisors, Emma Huber and Nelda Bailey, work hard to help us gain new opportunities and help us be more prepared for the future. This year we have more than 150 members participating in FFA events, including Leadership Development Events, Career Development Events and different conventions. Below is a recap of most events Tomah FFA has completed since last year at this time.

Leadership development events: On Feb. 12, Tomah FFA attended a leadership development event in Holmen, where everyone competed in different speaking events such as prepared speaking, parliamentary procedure, discussion meet, employability skills, quiz bowl, creed speaking and extemporaneous speaking. The parliamentary procedures team placed second at District and moved on to the Sectional contest in Black River Falls.

Farm forum: On Feb. 17, two of our officers (Jacob Hall and Lyndsi Smith) attended the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Farm Forum conference, where they learned about different careers in agriculture and about the new technology businesses are introducing to farming.

Bucks Basketball Game: On March 11, 30 Tomah FFA members spent their St. Patrick’s Day touring the BMO Harris Bradley Center and attending the Milwaukee Bucks game!

EDGE Conference: On March 25, 16 middle school FFA members attended the EDGE FFA conference in Manitowoc for the weekend. Students discussed the endless opportunities available to them through FFA and developed leadership skills.

Career development events: On March 28, FFA members had the opportunity to participate in career development events. Some of the contests students can participate in are: agronomy, meat evaluation, dairy products, dairy cattle, dairy handler, poultry evaluation, horse evaluation, vet science and livestock evaluation. It is a great opportunity to learn more about these different categories and is always super fun!

Community Easter egg hunt: On March 25, Tomah FFA hosted a community Easter egg hunt. Over 75 kids attended! They were able to hunt for eggs, learn about animals, plant seeds to take home and meet the Easter Bunny.

Annual FFA Awards Banquet: On April 29, we held our FFA banquet, where we present awards to those who have participated in events throughout the year such as fruit sale, leadership development events, distinguished service award and proficiencies.

Save a Cow, Roast a Pig: June 7 was our Save a Cow, Roast a Pig at the Timberwood Bank in Tomah collaborated with other local businesses to provide food and drinks. The FFA members served the food to anyone who attened. All proceeds go back to the Tomah FFA chapter, and we really appreciated everyone who came down to have lunch with us. Timberwood Bank is a great supporter of the Tomah FFA.

State FFA convention: The Wisconsin FFA state convention takes place every June at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison. State convention consists of sessions, workshops and other events. This event allows FFA members to learn more about FFA as well as meet other members from around the state. We had four Gold Ranking Proficiency awards awarded to Mark Kortbein, who received gold in wildlife management and was state winner in grain production.

Colby Von Haden received gold in swine production, and Jordan Kuehl received gold in vegetable production.

Travis Von Haden received the Three Star Leader Award. Colby Von Haden received a Washington Leadership Conference scholarship and has traveled to Washington D.C., for a weeklong FFA leadership conference.

Carisa Cleven, Trenda Conant, Kayla Stott, Travis Von Haden and Kaylee Salzwedel received their Wisconsin FFA Degree, which is the highest degree the Wisconsin Association of FFA can bestow upon a member.

Agriscience Fair—Hannah Walters and Sierra Steele received first place and were nominated to nationals for their agriscience fair project on horsetail growth using various products. Travis Von Haden and Carisa Cleven also placed first and were nominated to nationals for their agriscience fair project on radish growth with varying climates.

Tomah FFA also received a three-star ranking for our National Chapter Award. This award application ranks chapters based on their activities meeting the national FFA Vision Statement of Building Communities, Strengthening Agriculture and Growing Leaders. Only the top 25 chapters receive a three-star ranking. and our application was sent on to nationals to be ranked on the national level.

Budweiser Dairyland Super National Truck and Tractor Pull: Many alumni and FFA members sold 50/50 raffle tickets during the tractor pull sessions. In addition, Monroe County FFA chapters were recognized in the truck parade before the session on Friday night. This was a great way to display agriculture to the community and spectators of the tractor pull.

Tomah FFA officer retreat: The 2018-2019 officer team met for two days to plan the upcoming year of FFA activities. The 2018-2019 officers are president Jacob Hall, vice-president Colby Von Haden, secretary Jordy Steinhoff, treasurer Cody Hall, reporter Lyndsi Smith, sentinel Whitney Kuehl and parliamentarian Jordan Kuehl. The officer team developed an outline of events for the year and set the goals they wanted to accomplish. They also chose the theme, “Inspire Today, Influence Tomorrow.” which demonstrates the legacy associated with FFA.

Monroe County Fair: This year the fair was July 24-28. A lot of work was put in to prepare the fairgrounds for this year’s fair. FFA members displayed a wide variety of projects that displayed their hard work over the past year. Projects ranged from plants and art to sewing and animal exhibits. Members showed goats, sheep, swine, beef, dairy, chickens, rabbits, llamas and horses. Our theme for this year’s fair was “Embrace Your Roots Dare to Inspire,” so the display boards and stalls were decorated to represent the theme. The fair was a great success this year, and everybody involved had a great time and gained invaluable experience.

Other summer trips included a Milwaukee Brewers game, the Wisconsin State Fair, National Night Out, Wisconsin Farm Technology Days, canoeing down the Kickapoo River and Monroe County Extension Crop Field Day.

Sectional leadership workshop: Eighteen middle and high school FFA members attended the sectional Leadership Workshop in Arcadia. This event consists of workshops hosted by the Wisconsin state officer team. We learned how to communicate more effectively, build leadership skills and serve others. Overall, we learned many new abilities that will help us make our FFA chapter better, and it was a very beneficial experience for everyone who attended.

Tomah Lumber open house: On Sept. 14, a couple of our FFA members went down to Tomah Lumber and served food at the Tomah Lumber open house. Tomah Lumber is one of our great partnerships within our community.

World Dairy Expo: World Dairy Expo is held every year in Madison. This event displays dairy production around the world and helps the community learn more about Wisconsin’s leading industry. People from around the world travel to Madison for this educational event to show their cattle and learn about new technology coming to the industry. Twelve FFA members participated in judging events from forages to dairy cattle. Kendyl Hericks placed first in showmanship. This event allowed us to learn more about the dairy industry and how it influences not only our home state, but the rest of the world as well.

FIRE Conference: On October 13, 10 FFA members went to Fox Valley Technical College, where they had the opportunity to learn about beginning FFA careers. This conference is designed specifically for 7-9 grade students to get them excited about the opportunities available through FFA.

Fall potluck: On Oct. 14, we held a fall potluck at the Tomah High School, where we served food to FFA members and their family members. The officers also talked about their supervised agriculture experiences and how our agricultural department is looking to include them for every student. We had plans to go Hidden Trails Corn Maze, but the weather kept us back at school, where parents and members played board games.

National convention: This year, 10 FFA members (Jordyn Steinhoff, Cody Hall, Whitney Kuehl, Jordan Kuehl, Colby Von Haden, Ellie Krause, Hannah Walters, Sierra Steele, Kendyl Hericks and Skylar Pierce) attended the national FFA convention in Indianapolis. On our way to Indianapolis, we had the opportunity to visit the John Deere plant, Feline Cat Rescue, and Heartland Growers. While at national convention, we had the opportunity to attend sessions led by the national officer team as well as hear motivational speakers. We were able to meet FFA members from all over the nation, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Sierra Steele and Hannah Walters competed in the National FFA agriscience fair and received sixth-place gold on their project. The convention also featured a career show that housed many agricultural businesses and colleges. This was a great way to network with other members and different agricultural businesses around the nation. It was a great experience for the members and showed them the impact of FFA across America.

Farm visits: Every year, elementary students are invited to participate in a farm visit at the Bailey Cherry Valley Dairy Farm. This gives elementary school kids the chance to be see how modern agriculture works and how it influences their local community. High school agriculture students were able to be involved in teaching the elementary students about the different aspects of a dairy farm. High school students earned valuable speaking experience that they will use in their future as well as educating the elementary school kids about agriculture.

212/360 conference: On Nov. 10, 12 of our FFA members attended 212/360 Leadership Conference in Stevens Point. Six of them attended the 212 conference where they learned how to become a leader and what the next step is to becoming a better leader and how leadership works. The other six members who attended the 360 part learned about chapter leadership development.

Holiday cookie baking workshop: Dec. 18, the FFA members put together a cookie baking workshop at Tomah High School. where we invited kids from our local elementary schools and all of our FFA members to bake cookies, taught kids about kitchen safety and played fun learning games with the kids. Everyone who attended was able to take cookies home with them, and the remainder were delivered to local assisted living centers and nursing homes.

Halftime leadership conference: Two FFA members (Jordan and Whitney Kuehl) attended Halftime Conference in Stevens Point. This two-day event was hosted by the state officer team and featured a variety of workshops. The workshops taught valuable leadership, communication and career skills and was a very valuable learning experience for both members.

UW-Madison collegiate FFA hockey extravaganza: Every year around the second weekend in February, our FFA chapter has the opportunity to attend a UW-Madison Wisconsin hockey game at the Kohl Center in Madison. When we arrive, we have dinner at Gordon’s Dining and a pep rally, where we get to meet Bucky Badger and then travel over to the Kohl Center to watch the UW men’s hockey team!

Monroe County Mobile Food Pantry: Once a quarter we go down to the Monroe County Fairgrounds to help with the Monroe County Mobile Food Pantry. Community members are able to stop by and pick up food for their families. Volunteers from all over Tomah come to help distribute food. It is a great way for FFA members to give back to their communities.

Culver’s tip night: Once every a quarter, we go to Culver’s in Tomah for a couple of hours and collect donations to help with funding for our activities. Local guests love seeing the FFA members getting out in the community and holding doors open for people, greeting them and showing off some of our FFA knowledge. Culver’s of Tomah is a huge supporter of our FFA chapter.

National FFA Week: This year, National FFA Week is Feb. 16-22. FFA week celebrates the FFA mission: premier leadership, personal growth and career success. This week is filled with various events such as agribusiness tours, FFA trivia and promotion, leadership activities and dress-up days. The week is a great way to promote FFA in our school and community. Monday Feb. 18, the FFA members are doing a donut delivery to our local farmers, alumni members and supporters as a thank you for all that they do for us. Tuesday is the Tomah FFA community pancake supper! Thursday Feb. 21, we will be holding a pie and ice cream social for our teachers and to show appreciation and them. Friday the 22, we will be having a blue and gold party for all of our FFA members. Please join us Tuesday, Feb. 19 from 4:30-7:30 p.m., for our all-you-can-eat pancake supper in the Tomah High School Cafeteria. The cost for the supper is $5, and a euchre card party in the high school math lab follows it. The cost for the card party and the supper is $6 or $2 for the card party only.

FFA is a great opportunity for all students, not just students who are interested in agriculture. There are opportunities to volunteer in the community, develop leadership and speaking skills and create great friendships with members from across the nation. If you are interested in helping or joining FFA or the FFA alumni, contact Nelda Bailey at 608-372-7964 or Emma Huber at 608-374-7889. You DO NOT have to be a previous FFA member to be an alumni member, just an interest in helping kids in agricultural education and supporting our youth. All help is greatly appreciated.

On behalf of our advisors and officers, I would like to send out a huge THANK YOU to everyone who participated and supported our chapter in the past year. Thank you for all that you do, you helped make this last year successful, and we can’t wait to see what our next year brings.

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Tomah Journal editor

Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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