Natzke, Sherwin and Wendt inducted in FFA Hall of Fame

Wisconsin Ag Connection
Ken Natzke (seated from left), Jerry Sherwin and Jerry Wendt were inducted into the FFA Hall of Farm during the Wisconsin FFA Convention in Madison.

The Wisconsin FFA Hall of Fame 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 Ken Natzke, Jerry Sherwin and Jerry Wendt.

Ken Natzke has strong roots in agriculture and the FFA organization as a dairy farmer for nearly 50 years. He attended Bonduel and Seymour High School where he was first introduced to the FFA organization. And it is at Bonduel where he continues supporting the FFA members of today.

Natzke was a farm boy who did not attend college but rather he states, “I got my education out at the barn.”

His indoctrinated love for agriculture and the FFA often finds him encouraging teachers and advisors as well as pushing FFA parents and past FFA members to get involved in FFA Alumni activities. His passion for FFA helped lead the Bonduel FFA Alumni to become one of the top affiliates in the nation.

He also shared his enthusiasm of FFA by serving as the Wisconsin FFA Alumni Association President, the National FFA Alumni Association President, National FFA Sponsors Board Member, National FFA Alumni Scholarship Auction Chairman and chairman of the State FFA Alumni Convention Auction. Natzke initiated the Section 8 Banquet and helps raise approximately $10,000 each year for WLC scholarships.

He enjoys seeing youth develop into outstanding community leaders. He has been recognized by 4-H, FFA and conservation organizations for his outstanding service. 

Jerry W. Sherwin attended Platteville public schools and then went onto attend what was then called Wisconsin State University-Platteville receiving both a bachelor and masters degree in Agriculture Education. He taught for 34 years—3 years at Potosi High School and 31 years at Cuba City.

During his 34 years, Sherwin challenged his students to set lofty goals. His advice for today’s FFA members is, “An FFA opportunity you fail to take advantage of is a memory you never get to bank.”

Sherwin and the students he taught banked many memories during his tenure as he had numerous proficiency, speaking contest, band and chorus participants, and he coached 12 state winning judging teams including the National Champion Land Judging Team in 1986. He also received the National Land Judging Coach award in 1987.

Sherwin took great pride in his land judging teams and he gave back to others by revising the land judging scorecard and manual that is reference by many. He is proud that 33 of his high school land judgers went on to participate and have great success at the collegiate level.

Having formally retired from teaching in 1999, Sherwin has enjoyed several long term substitute positions yet more frequently enjoys bowling, hunting, fishing and being active in the Lions club.

Jerry Wendt grew up in Waukesha County on a dairy, vegetable and crop farm. In 1982 he graduated from UW – River Falls with a degree in Agriculture Education and completed a six month internship at the National FFA Center in the awards and contests department. For a total of 32 years he taught agriculture—9 years at Kiel and 23 years at Stoughton.

During his 32 years of teaching, Wendt challenged students to do their best, to participate in activities and apply what they learned toward their future success. Because of this attitude, he had numerous students recognized for their accomplishments and in addition he too was recognized at local, state and national levels.

He received the Kohl Fellowship Program Outstanding Teacher award for his teaching excellence and innovation and represented Wisconsin at the National Aquaculture Seminar, the National Entrepreneurial task force, and the National Local Program Success Conference.

Wendt was very involved on the local, state, and national level to support improvements in agriculture education programming. To further the mission of agriculture education, He supervised 9 student teachers and served as a WAAE officer for 10 years. Notable in his work over the years is doing his best to help students become successful. His curriculum, summer school program, and FFA and SAE program development all support that future success theme.