Three exemplarly leaders were inducted into the Wisconsin FFA Hall of Fame during the 87th Wisconsin FFA Convention, includding the first female member to receive the prestigious recognition.
The newest members of the Hall of Fame are Clara Hedrich, the late Robert G. Heebink and Pat Zimmer.
The Hall of Fame honor was started in 1995 to provide permanent and significant recognition to the special leaders who have impacted the State FFA Association and have set an example of service for all FFA members to follow. A maximum of three individuals can be inducted each year.
This year's inductees are:
Clara Hedrich grew up on a small dairy farm in Armstrong Creek, WI, and attended UW-River Falls and graduated with a degree in Agricultural Education in 1976 and received a masters degree from the UW-Madison in Continuing Adult Vocational Education in 1979.
Hedrich taught high school agriculture for 19 years at Chilton High School and 20 years at the West DePere High School. She was recognized for always working to be on the cutting edge of technology and focusing on hands-on learning within her classroom while continually being an active learner herself.
After 39 years of teaching, Hedrich retired on June 18, 2015. However, some would say she continues to teach as she provides tours at their family business. LaClare Farms is an 800 herd of milking goats, a retail store, a cafe and a creamery where they make about 35 different kinds of cheeses.
Hedrich and her husband Larry reside near Chilton. She was one of the first female agricultural education teachers in the State of Wisconsin and is the longest tenured female agriculture teacher within the state. In addition, Hedrich is the first female member of the Wisconsin FFA Hall of Fame.
The late Robert G. Heebink was raised on a farm near Baldwin, WI. He received his bachelors degree from the State Teachers College in River Falls in agricultural education in 1941. He taught agriculture and math at Roberts High School before entering the Army in 1942. Heebink served during World War II as a member of the 40th Combat Engineers in Africa, Sicily, Italy, France and Germany.
After being discharged from the Army, he worked briefly in agricultural extension and real estate. In September 1948 he began what became 52 years of service to the New Richmond School District as a farmer trainer, high school agriculture instructor, vocation coordinator and community education director.
Heebink was a member of the 'greatest generation,' one that survived the Great Depression, served his country with honor in World War II and spent 52 years in agriculture education. He passed away in February 2014. Jim Heebink, one of Heebink's three sons, accepted the honor on his behalf.
Pat Zimmer has been retired from teaching agriculture education for 18 years but still volunteers his time in assisting FFA members with contests and applications. He was an initiator during his tenure as he started the FFA chapter in Lowell-Reeseville High School in 1965, formed the Whitewater ag advisory committee in 1969 and the Whitewater FFA Alumni in 1976, and transitioned the traditional ag curriculum to agribusiness, environmental sciences, horticulture and small animal sciences.
Zimmer encouraged his FFA members to participate in FFA contests where they were successful in dairy, livestock, meats, equine and soil judging. He had one National Proficiency winner, eight American FFA Degrees, 86 State FFA Degrees, 10 State FFA Proficiency recipients and several state tractor driving contest winners. He encourages FFA members to never give up as you have more ability than you think. If you think big, you will achieve.
Zimmer and his wife of 51 years, Carol, reside in Lake Mills.