MY NIECE HILLARY KLETSCHER e-mailed me with exciting news from the Future Farmers of America national convention. Not news about her personally, but about Minnesota.
For the first time in 26 years, a Minnesota FFA Association member has been elected to office in the National FFA Organization. Jason Troendle, a May 2010 graduate of St. Charles High School and current Bethel University student, was elected secretary at the just-concluded national convention in Indianapolis.
And get this—this past Minnesota FFA president and now the current national secretary, is not even from a farm.
When I was a member of the Wabasso High School FFA Chapter in southwestern Minnesota in the early 1970s, I think all of us were farm kids. I was, in fact, the first female to join the WHS chapter back when the organization was mostly male dominated. Things have changed in the past 30 – 40 years. And that’s a good thing.
You don’t need to be from the farm or planning a career in agriculture to be involved in this ag-focused organization. The new national secretary is majoring in economics and environmental studies.
My niece grew up on a farm, although family has not farmed the land but rented it out for the past several years. Hillary’s not planning to become a farmer either. She’s studying biological systems engineering at Iowa State University.
According to the Minnesota FFA website, “FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of young people by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success!”
I’ve seen firsthand how Hillary has benefited from FFA membership. She’s risen through the organization from WHS chapter president and then a regional officer to become Minnesota’s current state FFA president, a position she will hold until next May. She’s a well-spoken, driven, talented, successful 18-year-old.
Currently Hillary’s juggling her college studies with her FFA responsibilities. Last week she attended the national FFA convention as a Minnesota delegate. She’s also traveled throughout Minnesota, speaking, leading workshops, meeting with high school students and doing more than I could possibly list here.
She’s gone to Washington D.C. and, in January, will travel to China for a leadership conference.
Can you imagine Hillary’s resume and networking by the time she completes her term as Minnesota FFA president and upon her graduation from college in several years?
Can you imagine Jason’s resume and networking by the time he completes college and his term as national FFA secretary next October?
But certainly, beyond those individual benefits are the benefits to agriculture through the positive voices, work, commitment and leadership of these young people, our future.
WERE YOU/ARE YOU a FFA member? How did you benefit from membership? Tell me about your involvement.
You can also connect with current and past FFA members and others interested in agriculture through FFA Connect! Click here for more information.
© Text copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
Hillary Kletscher photo by Matt Addington Photography