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Wisconsin FFA Alumni holds 40th annual convention

More than 300 Wisconsin FFA Alumni members and supporters traveled to Waukesha for the 40th Wisconsin FFA Alumni Convention. The theme was “Vision + Leadership + Reality” and the group had plenty to celebrate. Award winners, educational workshops and tours, and the updates from National FFA Alumni encouraged the members that their role in supporting agricultural education, the FFA, and local agriculture education instructors has been instrumental in the success of FFA members and the agricultural industry and is critical in the future of agriculture.

A highlight to start the weekend was a tour and fish fry dinner at Milwaukee Vincent High School’s agriculture education department. Members toured the department and then enjoyed the meal featuring fish and other food grown by the students and prepared by the culinary department. An online auction, raffle for sportsmen items or cash, live auction, silent auction, dessert dash and basket sales helped raise funds for the organization and its FFA support at this biggest fundraiser of the year for the Wisconsin FFA Alumni. The group also celebrated the 40th anniversary with a display and presentation featuring past Wisconsin FFA Alumni Presidents.

A workshop was given by the Wisconsin FFA State Officers on saving money on communications with social media use. Other workshops included Vincent HS Agriculture Department, Strengthening your Local FFA Program by coaching CDE’s/LED’s, How far can ag education take you? FFA Resources online at the state and national level, Working with your local FFA Advisors, How to be an effective local leader, Recruiting young, active members and Teaming up for Trivia! Speakers included Shelley Jurewicz, FaB Wisconsin Executive Director and Allie Ellis, National FFA Alumni Development Specialist. The event concluded with entertainment by SongBlast Dueling Guitars.

The business session included bylaw changes and resolutions, approving new council members and a moment of silence for those departed members. The financial health of the organization is strong. Team Ag Ed reports all expressed their appreciation of local, state and national FFA Alumni support of the Wisconsin FFA Center and FFA Association, FFA Foundation, Wisconsin Association of Agriculture Educators, Wisconsin Ag Education and Workforce Development Council and Department of Public Instruction. The Wisconsin FFA Officers participated in all aspects of the convention including a Reflection Program, hosting workshops, and assisting in many volunteer roles.

The delegates elected Terri Wilfert as vice president. All other Executive Committee members were moved up to their next positions. The 2020 Executive Committee includes President-Rudy Kaderly; President Elect-Nate Zimdars; Vice President-Terri Wilfert; Past President-Cari Sabel; and Executive Director Cheryl Steinbach. Retiring FFA Alumni Council members Mark Ladsten, Amy Penterman and Jacob Stukenberg were recognized for their service. Gary Eibergen and Joseph Lyne were installed as new council members.

Award winners included: National Outstanding Chapter Award: Stoughton FFA Alumni State Winner and Denmark FFA Alumni, 2nd. Both will advance to national level competition.

State Level Outstanding Chapter Award Winners: -- Small Chapter - Weyauwega-Fremont FFA Alumni -- Medium Chapter - Waupaca FFA Alumni -- Large Chapter - Pulaski FFA Alumni Newsletter Award Winner: Pulaski FFA Alumni Agriculture Instructor Recognition Program: Five Wisconsin instructors were recognized. They include: -- Lucas VanEgtern - Dodgeland -- Walter Taylor - Oconto Falls -- Daniel Robinson - Lomira -- Mariah Markhardt - Oconto Falls Mary Handrich - Denmark, who was also named the state winner.

Outstanding Achievement Award: Candie Lehto, Oconto Falls was named the state winner and national nominee. Mark Nelsen, Denmark was also honored.

Team Ag Ed-Distinguished Contributor Award: Jon Anderson, Vice President-Filament Wisconsin FFA Alumni Chapter Support Grants were awarded to: -- Brillion FFA Alumni -- Lakeside Lutheran FFA Alumni New Chapter Charters were presented to: -- Beaver Dam FFA Alumni & Supporters -- Wisconsin Dells FFA Alumni & Supporters -- UW Madison Collegiate FFA Alumni & Supporters Reactivated Chapters recognized were: -- Coleman FFA Alumni -- Hillsboro FFA Alumni Chapters recognized as National FFA Alumni Local Program Grants recipients were: -- Ellsworth FFA Alumni -- Badger FFA Alumni -- Randolph FFA Alumni -- Sauk Prairie FFA Alumni -- Lodi FFA Alumni -- Adams-Friendship FFA Alumni Dr. V.O. Martinson Award: Lakeside Lutheran FFA Alumni Ann Martinson Award: Janesville FFA Alumni Eagle Award: Argyle FFA Alumni