WI FFA Alumni urges everyone to “Renew their Purpose”

Wisconsin State Farmer
Gathered at the annual meeting of the Wisconsin FFA Alumni Association are Council members, (front row from left,) Cari Sabel, Vice-President; Dan Follendorf, President; Mark Landston, President-Elect; Cheryl Steinbach Executive Director as of March 1, 2017
Second row from left, Brenda Franklin, Kim Scholz, Gwen Dado, Ellen Cary, Terri Wilfert and Ann and Bob Keough
Third row from left, Bobbie Jo Kuntz, Amy Penterman, Amy Voigt, Candie Lehto, Herman Seebandt, Ken Natzke
Fourth row from left, Nick Lowe, Brian Buchholz, Bill Lien, Rudy Kaderly, Matt Damm. Not pictured Tim and Julie Spoke, Past-President.

GREEN LAKE -  Outgoing Wisconsin FFA Alumni President Julie Spoke compared the FFA Alumni to the honey bee.

"Just like the honey bee in their colony, the Alumni members help build, protect, and maintain the FFA," Spoke to those gathered at the Wisconsin FFA Alumni Association annual meeting in Green Lake on Feb. 3-4. "Like the honey bee, the alumni have unique skills with talents that are sustenance needed to support the FFA youth. They have the organizational tools and skills to assist the FFA and help them thrive."

Over 300 FFA Alumni members and guests joined forces to celebrate another successful year supporting agriculture education in their respective school districts and on the state level.

Affiliates from all over the state were recognized for the exceptional support for their local FFA chapters.

Eight FFA Alumni Chapters were recognized for either activating or reactivating their local FFA Alumni Chapters during the 2016-17 membership years. hey include Unity Area FFA Alumni, Laconia FFA Alumni, De Soto FFA Alumni, Badger FFA Alumni, Hudson FFA Alumni, Lakeside Lutheran FFA Alumni, Poynette FFA Alumni, and the Wrightstown FFA Alumni.

The National FFA Alumni presented two Wisconsin FFA Chapters with $1000 grants. Those two FFA Alumni Affiliates were Denmark FFA Alumni for their Edible Learning Lab project and the New Auburn FFA Alumni for their New Auburn FFA Heartwalk.

The Kiel FFA Alumni won the website and newsletter contests which are both designed to evaluate the local affiliate’s communication ability with their membership and the community through both mediums. The Stoughton FFA Alumni and the Sauk Prairie FFA Alumni also received Gold Ratings in the newsletter category.

The scrapbook contest rewards those affiliates who take the extra time to record all of the events and their affiliate history. The gold and overall winner in the small Scrapbook contest was the Unity FFA Alumni. In the large Scrapbook contest the gold and overall winner was awarded to the Thorp FFA Alumni.

For only the third time FFA affiliates were able to apply for the state level Outstanding Affiliate Award. The goal is to encourage all affiliates to engage in a state level competition. This year all competing chapters were in the large (81+ members) category. First place went to Clinton FFA Alumni, second place to Sauk Prairie and third place to the Kiel FFA Alumni.

Stoughton FFA Alumni and Marshfield FFA Alumni both received Gold Ratings for the National Outstanding Affiliate Award and both will advance to the National FFA competition. Winning affiliates must provide detailed information on their affiliate’s instructional activities conducted for the agricultural education and/or SAEs of students, activities conducted in cooperation with the FFA Chapter, conducted to finance FFA or FFA Alumni, at other local events, of a social or fellowship nature and recruitment activities for alumni membership.

Achievement awards

Agriculture instructors are the most valuable part of the FFA members’ agriculture education experience and the keystone to the success of the FFA Alumni working with the agriculture program. Agriculture instructors recognized for their dedication were Troy Talford, Sauk Prairie and the overall winner Jamie Propson, Mishicot FFA.

Kathy Hartmann-Breunig of the Sauk Prairie FFA Alumni was presented with the outstanding Achievement Award. This year’s bronze recipient is lifetime member Harley Stokstad of the Stoughton FFA Alumni.  Kathy and Harley participated in FFA Alumni activities on the local, state and national level. The Outstanding Achievement Award is given in recognition of FFA Alumni members for outstanding leadership and service to agricultural education, FFA and FFA Alumni.

In 2014 the Alumni Council voted to create a grant program to help support our FFA Alumni Chapters. The purpose of the program is to provide financial assistance to established Wisconsin FFA Alumni Chapters. The 2017 recipients are the Menomonie FFA Alumni who is restructuring and will be organizing a Pancake Breakfast to help raise funds to support the students and to establish their existence in the community, the New Auburn FFA Alumni who will be creating a “To Believe is to Achieve” sign linking the New Auburn FFA Alumni, Agriscience Department and FFA Chapter and hoping to eliminate the 36 year stagnate membership level.

The Weyauwega -Fremont FFA Alumni who is working at re-energizing the local chapter after a 10-year lull with a raffle to help raise funds for student leadership expenses and FFA jackets and the Wisconsin Heights FFA Alumni where the majority of their membership is under 25 and are working to acquire all age groups and backgrounds by hosting a 5K for the Wisconsin Heights students and community members.”

Membership Awards

The Membership Award is given to affiliates that have maintained 100% of last year’s membership and have been able to add new members this year. Those affiliates increasing their membership 7 to 14 members (Bronze Award); Bay Port FFA Alumni, Clinton FFA Alumni, Edgerton FFA Alumni, Lancaster FFA Alumni, Markesan FFA Alumni, Milton FFA Alumni, Montello/Westfield FFA Alumni, Oconto Falls FFA Alumni, Palmyra FFA Alumni, Sparta FFA Alumni and Tomah FFA Alumni.

Affiliates increasing their membership 15 to 24 members (Silver Award);  Jefferson FFA Alumni, Marathon FFA Alumni, New Holstein FFA Alumni, Rosholt FFA Alumni and the Sauk Prairie FFA Alumni.

Affiliates increasing their membership 25+ members (Gold Award); Amery FFA Alumni, Blair FFA Alumni, Campbellsport FFA Alumni, Elkhart Lake – Glenbeulah FFA Alumni, Juda FFA Alumni, Lomira FFA Alumni, New Richmond FFA Alumni, Plymouth FFA Alumni, Pulaski FFA Alumni, Thorp FFA Alumni and the Waupaca FFA Alumni.

The Thorp FFA Alumni Affiliate received the Dr. V.O. Martinson Award with the greatest increase in annual membership percentage with 166 members. The Ann Martinson Award is presented to the affiliate with the greatest increase in lifetime members. Bloomer FFA Alumni received that honor with 9 new lifetime members.

The New Richmond FFA Alumni Chapter received the Eagle award with a 451.9% growth in membership.

Individual honors

Tim Onsager and Badgerland Financial represented by John Goode were presented with a Distinguished Contributor Award. This is a state level award that recognizes an individual, a group/organization or a company for their contributions towards the Team Ag Ed.

Executive Director, Regina Oldendorf was recognized for her time with the Wisconsin FFA Alumni. She will be leaving, for other endeavors, the end of February. Retiring State Council members were Mike Lewien, Greg Lincicum and Executive Board member Janet Schneider.