Wisconsin FFA Foundation/Wisconsin FFA Alumni Association Special Edition Newsletter - Spring 2020

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Special Edition

Wisconsin FFA Foundation Wisconsin FFA Alumni & Supporters WI FFA Alumni Have 5 Important Roles

Message from Danielle Waterworth, Foundation Board President The definition of normal — can anyone help me with that one right now? What we used to find normal seems to shift every day as of late. While there is a lot of uncertainty and new norms, what is certain is the world still needs to eat and we still need to find ways to support those entering the agricultural workforce as best as we can! The Wisconsin FFA Foundation and the Wisconsin FFA Alumni & Supporters have joined forces to produce this Special Edition newsletter, showcasing Alumni members: their great work in their local chapters and for statewide partners. So much of what we learned of being a servant leader we learned through our years in FFA. The support that we, as a Foundation and Alumni members, give to our local communities and state are a vital part of providing for opportunities for others. Being a part of the Alumni organization allows us thoughts of hope, provides for moments of joy as students learn new skills, and provides for different opportunities to give back as we walk through this world. What a fitting time to share some good news!

Did you know there are five essential “roles” of an Alumni member? The National FFA Organization says our thousands of Alumni members fill vital functions as: Advocates, Donors, Fans, Mentors and/or Volunteers. There is no shortage of each of these personas in Wisconsin and we found some to talk to about why their Alumni role is important to them, and those they serve. In Wisconsin Dells, Ben Babcock has been advocating for his local chapter in major ways. He was instrumental in helping the Wisconsin Dells FFA Alumni Chapter reactivate, but also affiliate, to grow the membership without the barriers of dues. “It makes it easier to get people to join and help out,” he says of the affiliation, a newer push by National FFA to help Alumni chapters attract parents and volunteers that maybe aren’t directly involved in agriculture and/or weren’t FFA members themselves. Ben says his community is building a new high school, which has opened Amy Voigt and Nick Lowe show their Alumni opportunities to expand the spirit at the FFA Convention Expo. Dells' agriculture education program. “Through an Alumni chapter, I wanted to be able to give our ag teacher the resources he needs to take advantage of these changes,” he says. Ben advises other Alumni members not to feel obligated to do everything and become burnt out through volunteering but, instead, look for areas to help out where and when they can, and then encourage others to do the same. Julie Meixelsperger knows something about chapter reactivations, as hers, the River Valley FFA Alumni, went through the process two years ago. A farmer’s daughter and wife, Julie says she worked at the high school for 15 years before finding a special niche in helping those with learning disabilities, especially with their agriculture classes. “My practical knowledge in farming was very helpful to both students and our ag teacher/FFA advisor, Shari Graffunder,” Julie says. “I have

#1 Advocate




Alumni roles, cont.

seen on a daily basis the amount of time and energy Shari puts into her students. She is truly amazing!” Julie strongly believes the ag community needs to advocate for the state’s youth — encourage and support them. “Agriculture is not easy in this day and age of public skepticism,” she says. “River Valley FFA Alumni has given local scholarships to members, financially supported their competitions and worked countless hours to support the school fair each year.” Julie says she and a few others have been dedicated to reestablishing the local FFA Alumni, and hope to continue growing the chapter in numbers, providing even more support to River Valley’s teacher and students.

“As the definition of agriculture education is forever changing, so is the need to support our local and state programs."

Technical College in Appleton for many years, spending much of his time meeting with and advising young farmers. His strong passion for the state's agricultural education program has made Dave an active donor to the Wisconsin FFA, both financially and in time and talent. “I’m a big believer in the local economic development of a community and, a lot of times, that depends on how strong its local agriculture is,” he concludes. Jack Ellickson lives quite a ways south of Dave, in Stoughton, but truly believes in donating to FFA as much as his northern counterpart.

their ag instructors, then grow into mentors themselves,” Jack says. “I feel happy if I help one student develop skills to have a successful and rewarding career.” He says his time in the FFA Alumni has helped him develop lifelong friendships but, most importantly, a sense of accomplishment in working toward a common goal — the strength of the FFA members in Wisconsin. Every great organization needs great “fans” and FFA is Dave no different! Venture north Weiland of Freedom says that again and it’s not hard to spot he and his wife, Jackie, are a top FFA Fan, Candie Lehto proud donors of Wisconsin of the Section 8 Oconto Falls FFA — as Alumni and through FFA Alumni Chapter, who says the Foundation. It’s important she’s been an active and vocal to this couple that students advocate for the Wisconsin have access to a variety of FFA Alumni program as it hands-on learning experiences supports the state’s teachers and FFA activities. and students. “Learning to work on a One of her favorite activities Jack Ellickson of the Stoughton FFA Alumni is class project or activity with a proud donor of Wisconsin FFA! has been accompanying fellow students helps build a local FFA members to state strong work ethic, character and Jack donates much time serving and national conventions. “Their cooperation for FFA members,” at the local FFA Alumni food excitement is contagious and Dave says. “They also then learn stand, among dozens of other their dedication to the FFA and ag leadership lessons at the same hours throughout the summer ed program is awesome,” Candie time. Skills like that eventually at various events. For more than says. build strong families, communities two decades he has served the When asked by a friend about and local businesses.” Stoughton FFA Alumni board in a chapter fundraising activity A saying he believes strongly in different roles. and how the money was used, is: “If you think education is costly, He is active on the state level she told her the Alumni paid for try ignorance.” as well, currently serving on jackets, in addition to conference Dave says he was never an FFA the Wisconsin FFA Alumni and convention registrations for member, but his parents were Council and volunteering for members and teachers, hotel farmers. His high school teacher the Foundation at the WPS Farm rooms, agriculture classroom impressed upon him the impact Show Auction. supplies, scholarships and buses. a teaching profession has on “We sent area students to “It’s enjoyable to watch students youth. Dave taught at Fox Valley learning from older members and the Washington Leadership

#3 Fan

#2 Donor

www.WisconsinAgEd.org .org



Conference through our two or by helping them review annual Section 8 banquets and other SAE opportunities. auctions,” Candie adds. “All of “Being there to encourage these fundraising activities them along the way, help them directly support our current when they fall down and give FFA members and encourage tips to make it better next time others to participate. My is the biggest impact I feel I’ve friend responded with a single, had,” she says. “If you can take simple word: ‘Wow.’” time to review applications, be Candie believes that FFA is a a guest speaker, cook a meal, total educational program that or teach a kid how to tie a tie, supports academics, arts and you are making a difference.” career paths for all levels of A little further north at the Ben Babcock builds a chicken tractor for the learning, and that the payback Waupaca and Weyauwegalocal agricultural education program. of belonging and participating Fremont FFA chapters, Bobbie to the Alumni is priceless. Alumni. While encouragement Jo Montgomery provides “I see hope for the future comes in many forms, Nick says mentorship through proofing and catch the enthusiasm and he chooses to lead by example degree and award paperwork, excitement of dedicated students and impact the FFA and classroom writing letters of recommendation as they explore their futures,” this as an FFA fan and volunteer. and sharing feedback prior to top fan says. “There’s nothing “As the definition of agriculture speaking contests. better!” education is forever changing, so “I want to give back to an Another top fan in the state is is the need to support our local organization that has made a Nick Lowe, who serves on the and state programs,” he says. significant impact on me,” she State Alumni Council and hails “Right now we need to support says. “I hope that by taking time to from the Stoughton FFA Alumni. the students that will be tending proof an application or listen to a He says he “bleeds blue and gold” to our fields, putting food on our student speak helps to build their and being a fan is more than just tables, looking after our natural confidence and leadership skills.” wearing the FFA jacket. resources, and acting as our Bobbie Jo says being a mentor “I’m a fan of my chapter by always leaders in the future.” shows FFA members that what promoting any upcoming event, they are passionate about is In important to her and their greater knowing Alumni members by first and last name and something Mishicot, Alyssa Neff-Miller is Alumni chapter. personal about them,” he says. “I a mentor in a variety of ways, She believes "Living to Serve" cheer them on by being an active encouraging FFA Alumni to step is the most important part of the out of their comfort zone and get FFA Motto, and that it’s okay to and positive president myself.” He says that attending local involved with the organization. be an alumni member who helps FFA chapter meetings builds the “You don’t have to do everything once a year with an event, or bridge between the FFA and its or even something big,” she says. makes a donation and isn’t able to “I love being an FFA attend anything. “No matter your Alumni member because level of involvement, you make an I can see the positive impact!” difference FFA makes in students,” she adds. “Seeing a shy freshman Audra Kearn loves flowers, and develop into a responsible, has become an essential volunteer hard-working, outgoing for the Parkview FFA Chapter. senior is an amazing She helps their Floriculture CDE transformation.” team prepare for contests, judges As a mentor, Alyssa LDE competitions, spends time wants to help students at events such as the mum and become more confident at spring plant sales, annual Alumni whatever they are doing, convention, and spends time Candie Lehto of the Oconto Falls FFA Alumni whether it’s trap shooting coordinating volunteers for the

#4 Mentor

#5 Volunteer

was honored at the 2020 Alumni Convention.

www.WisconsinAgEd.org |


Alumni roles, cont.

Wisconsin Cattlemen’s having children. Trailer. “While he was on Audra says she’s always the board, we started had a passion for FFA and helping out more agriculture, and to be able with the events,” to share that with others has Missy says. “I loved been rewarding. working with students. “I felt it was important I love seeing them for students and FFA graduate, when they members to have handsask for scholarship and on learning opportunities resume references.” open to them through a Now, the ones she’s school greenhouse, so I seen grow up in FFA and other members of the Audra Kearns coaches the Parkview FFA Floriculture CDE are having families of Parkview FFA Alumni made team and helps with their greenhouse needs. their own, and talking great efforts to make that about their children happen,” she says. They joining FFA when they most important thing you can do.” secured funding and now, the Whether it’s a brat fry, a senior reach that age. Missy encourages students can “Learn by Doing” in citizen prom, the very popular Alumni to get to know the FFA a project the community further Annual New Holstein FFA Alumni members, work with the teacher/ supports through the plant sales. Toy Show, Missy Steffes is advisor and ask them what they Audra wants her fellow Alumni there. She says she first became need. members to know that no matter involved with FFA after marrying “As I write this out and think how big or small their chapter is, her dairy-farmer husband, Mark. of FFA, I always start to cry,” this whether the funds are deep or They attended events hosted by devoted volunteer says. “This is shallow, “being there to support the local Alumni chapter, and he how much FFA as made an impact the teacher and students is the joined the board when they began on my life.”

Golf Events Support Wisconsin FFA this Year! @ the 2020 Wisconsin FFA Foundation Golf Events (At the time of printing, our golf outings are planned as scheduled. Should this change due to COVID-19, we will keep you informed!)

Northwest: Monday, July 13 Wild Ridge Golf Course, Eau Claire Guest host: Bob Bosold

Northeast: Tuesday, July 14 Crystal Springs Golf Course, Seymour * NEW this year, a 9-hole event! Guest host: Travis Cleven

FFA Chapters and Alumni: This is a special offer for you!

Southern: Monday, July 27 Pleasant View Golf Course, Middleton Guest host: Pam Jahnke

Be an exclusive hole sponsor and register a foursome for only $500 (Northwest and Southern) and $400 at Northeast.

** This is a great way to say Thank You to Alumni volunteers, industry donors, parents, and others! **

Find details and registration online at: wisconsinaged.org/foundation/events www.WisconsinAgEd.org



Why I Serve... "The students are who inspire me to live a better tomorrow. Serving students as an Alumni leader is rewarding on many levels. Helping them to achieve their goals is heartwarming." ** Bobbi Jo Kunz, Alumni Council Section 6 "I serve to help the future generations of agriculturalists find their abilities to 'Rise Up and Stand Out' in their daily lives. FFA helps in reaching this goal by promoting premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through ag education." ** Caleb Green, Alumni Council Section 2

"I have been fortunate to volunteer and work with some of the most dynamic, inspirational and motivational people, many of them that have an important thing in common: FFA. I want to do all within my means to continue to support and help provide great opportunities for the future of agriculture education in our state and nation." ** Janet Schneider, Foundation Vice President

"I truly enjoy working with the variety of people on the council, all with different ideas and ways, yet all committed to the same mission of supporting FFA students to make a difference and help them grow in leadership and life skills." ** Cindi Freidhof, Alumni Council Section 7

"Serving on the FFA Foundation Board is an investment in our future. The FFA members of today ARE our future. Helping them with the resources they need to learn and do should be a priority to us all." ** Tom Bressner, Foundation Director "It is an honor to serve on the Wisconsin FFA Foundation Board as I believe FFA will help ensure the longevity of our food supply and develop future leaders." ** Jessie Kreke, Foundation Director

Message from Rudy Kaderly, Alumni Council President Some of my fondest memories are exhibiting at the local dairy shows and competing in dairy judging. Much of my success was due to the help of my ag instructor and the many local dairymen who coached and invited us onto their farms: from someone who took a few seconds to show me how to correctly hold a show halter, to a clipping demonstration at an evening meeting. Many people donated money so that our judging team could compete at different contests. Other donations were given toward a scholarship so that I could attend college. Little did I realize the huge impact they would make in my life. As FFA did for me, FFA continues today to change the lives of the thousands of our many members throughout Wisconsin. Please enjoy these stories of our State FFA Alumni members showing the many ways there are to advocate for FFA. Thank you for your continuing support of the Wisconsin FFA. Stay Forever Blue!

Honors & Memorials

In Memory of John Anderson: Michael & Patricia Knoll In Memory of Floyd & Betty Doering: Barbara & George Groshek In Memory of Ruth Elmer: Philip & Carol Peterson In Memory of Erv Flesch: Brett & Natalie M. Killion In Memory of Lowell Gjermo: Philip & Carol Peterson In Memory of Tony Haen: Mariellen Haen In Memory of Victoria Harter: Kenneth Harter In Memory of Victoria Harter: Bonnie Jean Peterson In Honor of Jeff Hicken: BJ Chrisler In Memory of Nancy (Carroll) Maurina: William Maurina In Memory of Bethany Rieth: Section 8 FFA Alumni Affiliates www.WisconsinAgEd.org


Top Honors! Our very own Wisconsin FFA Alumni Association was the recipient of the Outstanding State Association Award at the National FFA Convention last fall — No. 1 in the country! 608-831-5058

Non-Traditional Alumni Chapters The 2019-20 Wisconsin FFA State Officer Team visited Alumni members at John Deere Financial earlier this year. Wisconsin currently has three non-traditional FFA Alumni groups which serve our state: CNH Industrial, Culver's and John Deere Financial. They are active in their communities and also at the state level, sharing industry knowledge and volunteering financial resources and time. We are grateful for these corporations who have stepped up as Alumni Chapters!

Alumni Highlights 2018-19 1. Sponsored 32 students for the National FFA 212 and 360 Leadership Conferences 2. Provided 15 scholarships to the National FFA Washington Leadership Conference 3. Sponsored lifetime Alumni membership scholarships for all 11 State Officers 4. Sponsored two agriculture instructors for WAAE’s Professional Development Conference

About your WI FFA Alumni Association 23,397 Members

—> 4,140 Annual —> 5,928 Lifetime —> 13,329 Associate

5. Served as chaperones and hosted games for FFA leadership conferences 6. Provided leadership workshops at State FFA Convention and Sectional Leadership Workshops 8. Foundation Donor as a Wisconsin FFA State Convention Gold Sponsor

Did you know?

WI FFA Alumni value and support our state's agriculture teachers and FFA advisors!

The WI FFA Alumni Association provides a lifetime National FFA Alumni membership to every state officer team. In the above picture, the 2019-20 team accepts this gift.

9. Judged district, sectional and state FFA Leadership Development Events 10. Coached and chaperoned local FFA teams and events

Alumni members are dedicated advocates of agriculture education and membership is open to anyone who believes in that mission.




Foundation Donors Leave a Legacy for a Friend Elkhorn FFA graduate and Alumni member Emily Watson may not be close to home right now, but her work as an ag teacher in Clear Lake keeps her FFA roots vital to her everyday life. She served as a Wisconsin FFA State Officer in 2012-13, on a team that endured a tremendous loss of teammate Bethany Rieth just a few years later. At that time, a fund was set up to honor Bethany through the Wisconsin FFA Foundation, and Emily explains it quickly grew into enough donations from Bethany’s friends and family to form an official endowment. This investment has already begun supporting FFA chapters through community service project grants. “The goal is to show members how to 'live to serve' in their homes and beyond,” Emily says. “Our hope is that this endowment fund helps to create future adults who

“Bethany had a heart for helping others and her legacy is truly her heart for service.” are kind and willing to live with a servant’s heart, the way Bethany lived every day.” A younger donor of the Foundation’s demographic, Emily says she recognizes her peers may find it overwhelming to consider donating, perhaps feeling an insecurity that a monetary donation may not impact as equally as the large amounts shown on banners at FFA events. She encourages young people to redefine those thoughts and realize that every dollar counts. “Every dollar you give is one step closer to a student attending a leadership conference for the first time; every dollar is a chance for a shy freshman to participate in a leadership development event; every dollar opens a door for a student to find their purpose in feeding the world,” Emily says. “Every dollar counts, because we are not giving alone. The dollars you give today add up and together, we can ensure that future FFA members have all of the wonderful

opportunities we’ve had, and even more.” As an ag teacher herself now, she knows another way to leave a legacy is through volunteering at your local chapter. Emily says that a teacher is just one person, but community members, FFA Alumni and other supporters really make students’ experiences better. “The legacy of FFA continues not because of one person, but of everyone that sees the purpose and mission of FFA to make a positive difference in the lives of students,” she says. “You can make a difference.” Bethany’s legacy lives on through the Foundation endowment set up by those who loved her most, and saw the impact FFA had on her life. Emily believes leaving a legacy in Wisconsin FFA begins in a person's local chapter and local community, which is “exactly where Bethany found her passion of living to serve.”

What will be your legacy to Wisconsin FFA? You can make a lasting gift to Wisconsin FFA in a matter of minutes. To make a gift today, simply return the enclosed envelope. Or, to learn more about other giving options, contact John Hromyak, Executive Director, at jhromyak@wisconsinffafoundation.org or via phone at 608-831-5058 x3. www.WisconsinAgEd.org



WISCONSIN FFA FOUNDATION Invest in agriculture’s future. Support FFA.

1241 John Q. Hammons Dr, Ste 200 Madison, WI 53717

Thank you, WI FFA Foundation Industry Partners! Philanthropist CHS Foundation Compeer Financial Culver Franchising System Equity Cooperative Livestock Sales Association Patron AgCountry Farm Credit Services Filament Marketing GROWMARK Landmark Services Cooperative Kerry Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative Renk Seed Rural Mutual Insurance Co. Syngenta Wisconsin Public Service Benefactor Alliant Energy Foundation American Foods Group Andis Foundation Armor Animal Health Bio-Vet, Inc. Blain's Farm & Fleet Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin GreenStone Farm Credit Services Hansen Foods Investors Community Bank Land O'Lakes Foundation Minntex Citrus, Inc. - Iowa Russ Davis Wholesale/Crazy Fresh Produce Seneca Foods Corporation U.S. Army ROTC 3rd BDE Wisconsin Agri-Business Association Wisconsin Farm Bureau Foundation

Connect with Us The Wisconsin FFA Alumni Association wants to connect with you! We are updating records of members and want to make sure you are aware of upcoming events, achievements and service opportunities. Please email Executive Director Cheryl Steinbach at execdir@wisconsinffaalumni.org with updated contact information, or simply return the enclosed donation envelope to the Foundation office. We value your Alumni membership and know FFA means a lot to you! It means a lot to us too!


Thank you for doing your part to keep the Wisconsin FFA Alumni strong advocates for our more than 20,000 FFA members statewide. |


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