Meet the 2020-21 Wisconsin State FFA officer team
The coming year's Wisconsin State FFA officers were announced earlier this month during the organization's online convention.
Each year, these state officers go through an intense application and interview process in order to represent their section in the world of agriculture. They learn leadership skills and achieve personal growth in their budding ag careers.
Here are the 2020-21 state FFA officers:
Joe Schlies, Denmark FFA, State FFA President
After a rewarding year as State FFA Parliamentarian, Joe wanted the opportunity to continue leading the Wisconsin Association of FFA with the incoming officer team. Knowing this will be a year of adjustments with the ever changing COVID requirements, he is up for the challenge. Since spring the Wisconsin FFA Association has been presented with challenges, yet they continue to find new ways to connect with FFA members.
"This next year will not be a traditional one but that is what will make it all the more special for our members,” he said, adding that "Our methods of connecting with members may change, but the mission of Wisconsin FFA is one thing that will always stay the same."
Among his goals, Joe hopes to target the highest membership the state association has ever reached. Last year, the association was 244 members shy of reaching that record. He feels this is the year to bring more youth into the ranks of FFA membership and involvement.
He also plans to travel to as many of the 253 chapters as he possibly can as he strongly believes having conversations with members and building that relationship makes the real impact on a person's life.
While school restrictions may temper this goal, the savvy use of social media, group online meetings, and the likes of Zoom can make connecting that much more possible.
His parents are Lester and Nancy Schlies.
Jackie Rosenbush, Spooner FFA, Section 1
Jackie is a student at UW-River Falls majoring in Agricultural Education with a minor in Animal Science. Jackie’s supervised agricultural experience is with sheep production, breeding Romney and Columbia sheep.
Through her leadership work in her FFA chapter, Jackie is ready to make a difference on the state level.
“I have learned how to work well with others, how to stay focused under pressure, how to delegate duties to chapter members, how to organize efficiently, and much more,” she said.
She is the daughter of Susie Olson-Rosenbush.
Benjamin Styer, Menomonie FFA, Section 2
Benjamin grew up on the family farm working with cows and pigs and says the primary focus of the family farm was to close the education gap between producers and consumers by regularly hosting farm tours, dairy breakfasts and other educational opportunities to bring people out to the farm.
During Benjamin’s year as a State FFA Officer one of his goals is “to help members strive for premier leadership and to experience personal growth in FFA, to equip themselves with the skills necessary for career success.
After Benjamin’s year of service he plans to pursue a major in Animal Science with an emphasis in Agricultural and Food Business Management.
His parents are David and Karen Styer.
Carisa Cleven, Tomah FFA, Section 3
As a young girl, Carisa remembers animal learning centers being hosted at their dairy and beef farm. Since then she has combined her passions in a supervised agricultural experience with her love of animals and teaching and now facilitates those animal learning centers.
Carisa is excited to become a state officer because she realizes “it is the small things, like a note, a smile, or an invite, that add up to make a huge difference in each of our lives” and she wants to be that difference in a youth’s life as a State Officer.
She is currently pursuing a degree in Agriculture Education at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and hopes to secure an agriscience teaching position.
Her parents are Conrad and Debra Cleven.
Kendra Jentz, River Ridge FFA, Section 4
Kendra grew up on a sheep farm and is now the primary caregiver of her family’s flock. In high school she also assisted in teaching the freshman agriculture class and also became a coach to the FFA chapter's meat judging team.
Kendra is eager to start her year as a state officer and wants to show members that she cares about them and wants to hel them succeed in their goals..."I want to bring new ideas about how to help connect our members.”
When Kendra finishes this year of service as a State Officer she will attend the University of Wisconsin River Falls majoring in Agriculture Education with a minor in Animal Science.
Her parents are Thomas and Julie Jentz.
Brooks Lueck, Wisconsin Heights FFA, Section 5
Brooks supervised agricultural experience (SAE) program started well before joining FFA by helping his mom clean the flower beds around their home. Landscape management grew into revamping all the flower beds at his home, which is his proudest achievement.
In Brooks year of service he wants to “help members find their reason for being in FFA”. He wants to use social media to highlight FFA opportunities and to shine a spotlight on members and their accomplishments. He also wants to help chapters build their recruitment efforts to reach more students. Brooks feels “FFA should continue to be on the frontline of diversity and inclusion.”
Brooks is currently attending the University of Wisconsin – River Falls working on an degree in Agriculture Education.
His parents are Vicky and Joel Lueck.
Olivia Lulich, Mauston FFA, Section 6
Olivia's love of working with her sheep and beef animals ignited her passion to educate others about agriculture. Three years ago she partnered with the Wisconsin Agriculture in the classroom and became a volunteer educator. She works with area 4th graders to teach them about how their food is produced and insights into Wisconsin commodities.
As a state officer Olivia wants to motivate future FFA members. "It can be challenging to change, but it is through those experiences that I have found the most growth and improvement in myself," she said, adding that "I want FFA Members to see that State FFA Officers are just real people, who are still growing themselves.”
Olivia plans to attend Iowa State University to major in Agriculture Education and Agricultural Communications with a minor in Animal Science.
Her parents are Dave and Lori Lulich.
Cortney Zimmerman, Spencer FFA, Section 7
Cortney’s supervised agricultural experience revolves around beef production. Working with cattle has been a part of her whole life. She currently owns her own herd of Simmental cattle and is also the herd manager for her family’s beef herd.
Cortney remains positive “about wanting to help members across the state realize their purpose despite the [COVID-19] situation”. As this year unfolds Cortney wants to “reach out to members and help them know that there are people there for them — I am there for them”. She wants to remain a beacon of hope for all of those who proudly wear their FFA jackets in these uncertain times.
After serving as a state officer, Cortney plans to attend school at South Dakota State University to study Animal Science.
Her parents are Mark and Cheryl Zimmerman.
Katelyn Loehrke, Weyauwega-Fremont FFA, Section 8
Growing up on her family’s beef farm this was a natural connection to the beef industry for Katie, from caring and feeding her animals to keeping records and processing the animals.
As a state officer Katie “aims to give back to this community that gave me everything I am today”. She credits FFA with giving her valuable assets of leadership, time management, communication skills, and the ability to motivate yourself and others.
She is currently attending the University of Wisconsin River Falls majoring in Agriculture Education with a minor in Dairy Science.
Her parents are Keith and Rebecca Loehrke.
Katrina Hoesly, Denmark FFA, Section 9
As an officer in high school, Katrina's goal was to reach out to the younger students. As she took on more leadership responsibilities within her chapter, her recruitment of youth evolved to “finding the strengths members had to help them excel”.
During Katrina’s year as a State Officer she wants to share the value of agriculture across the state, while connecting and involving more youth in FFA to open as many doors as possible as to how agriculture positively impacts lives in Wisconsin.
She plans to attend the University of Wisconsin-Platteville majoring in Dairy Science and Ag Business with minors in Management and Pre-Vet.
Her parents are Carrie Pinchart and Seth Hoesly.
Melissa Konkel, Big Foot FFA, Section 10
When Melissa was eight her family moved to a hobby farm and she received two Holstein calves. Her knowledge and understanding of pedigrees and breeding has increased the quality of her self-owned herd of milking cattle. She also pushed academic boundaries in her agriscience SAE, starting in 7th grade that led to developing washes to decrease the amount of E-coli left on fruit to studying muscle cell growth in bovines and the absorption of protein in meat animals.
This year as a State Officer Melissa wants “to help make a member’s FFA experience something to remember and have it make a difference to themselves and those around them”.
She hopes to obtain a bachelor’s in microbiology and dairy science.
Her parents are Duane and Lisa Konkel.