The Wisconsin FFA Alumni Association's annual convention, held Feb. 8-10 at Holiday Inn in Fond du Lac, included the annual business meeting and election of officers.
Following the convention Ricky Kreif, Kewaskum, took over as new state president. Janet Schneider, Campbellsport, was elected to the vice president's position. President elect is Kathy Bruenig, Sauk Prairie.
The convention began Friday with a dinner and tours of Kondex Corporation in Lomira. A Luau theme helped set the mood for the evening's bidding at a live auction back at the Holiday Inn at Fond du Lac.
The annual meeting was held on Saturday and was followed by tours of three Fond du lac area agri-businesses. Agromatic, Inc., Brenner Tank and Dairy Specialties Global all opened their doors to convention attendees, highlighting the hundreds of jobs that are created by businesses serving the agricultural industry.
Educational workshops with a focus on assisting the activities of local affiliates were held that afternoon.
The day concluded with an evening awards banquet followed by a basket auction and entertainment.
During his farewell speech as president, Jim Check, Milton, said during the last year Wisconsin FFA Alumni membership reached greater than 9,100 and the organization is still growing.
He said, "We have seen an increase in the reactivation of affiliates and that helps strengthen the agriculture education programs in our schools. Over the past year, we have developed ideas to help the local affiliates grow and you will start to see some of those ideas blossom in 2013."
Check also reminded attendees that in July the National Alumni Development Conference will be held in Green Bay. He said, "This opportunity does not come around a lot and you need to take full advantage of what it has to offer for you and your affiliate."
Check said he never had the privilege of wearing the FFA blue jacket but he credits his children for sparking his enthusiasm for the organization. His children were active in their FFA and went on to agricultural careers.
He also talked about change and the importance of embracing change while preserving tradition. He said school district budget struggles and crashing markets have presented challenges to the Alumni Association to assist agriculture departments.
Check said, "My message has been clear. We need to help our ag instructors. They are out there teaching our youth and fighting for funding. We need to reach out to them and say 'how can we help' and we need to thank them."
He adds, "We're coming to a time in the future when every school district will have to fight for their agriculture program."
Check said, "We need to accept change and we should serve as mentors to our young members, accept them and their ideas and sit back and enjoy what they do."
He concluded by challenging members to go out to find a young person in their community to join the Alumni Association.
The annual convention was hosted by Sections 6 and 10 and co-chaired by Nick and Janet Schneider and Ray and Rae Nell Halbur. The convention had support from many area businesses.
Next year's convention will be Feb. 7-9, 2014, at the Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake.