FFA partners with NDSU on annual state convention
Published July 5, 2012
NDSU has facilities and agricultural experts. FFA has students eager to learn.
That’s what has made the two organizations natural partners for the State FFA Convention.
The 2012 event, held in early June, marked the 83rd time FFA students gathered on the NDSU campus. They competed in events ranging from livestock evaluation to public speaking and horticulture. The winners of the 21 contests earned spots at the national FFA competition.
Bentson-Bunker Fieldhouse served as convention headquarters. Dairy cattle were evaluated at the dairy barns. Horses were evaluated at the equine center. Other competitions, written tests and meetings were held in labs, classrooms and conference rooms across campus. The 1,300 students who attended the convention slept in the residence halls and ate in the Residence Dining Center.
NDSU faculty and staff coordinated events, provided contest materials and judged events. “NDSU has the expertise and facilities that make our event possible,” said Aaron Anderson, North Dakota FFA executive secretary.
NDSU instructor and FFA alumnus Elton Solseng has worked on the agricultural mechanics competition for 40 years. He’s been in charge of it for 20 years.
This year, he had the seventh and eighth graders use simple tools to build wooden stools. The ninth and tenth graders got to weld. The older students worked on small engines and other hands-on problems as teams.
They all spread out in classrooms to take written tests. The spreading wasn’t necessary, Solseng said. They don’t cheat.
Solseng has been committed for 40 years because of the learning and community service FFA promotes.
Partnering with FFA on the convention is a good way to show North Dakota youth the campus, Solseng said. It’s a good way to support young people who want to learn and do well.
Future leaders and problem solvers
Once known as Future Farmers of America, the organization is now called the National FFA Organization. The name changed because the organization expanded its scope, Anderson said.
Twenty-first century FFA explores the gamut of what it takes to feed the world. Members are farm and city kids, boys and girls. They won’t all be farmers, but many will have careers with agricultural ties.
NDSU students Jodi Boe and Preston Gilderhus developed academic interests and leadership skills in FFA.
Boe was motivated, in part, to major in crop and weed sciences and agricultural economics through FFA. The NDSU sophomore grew up helping her mom raise vegetables and flowers on their family farm in Golden Valley, N.D. Boe’s gardening experience led her to pursue horticulture and nursery landscape in FFA, which led to her college studies.
Gilderhus turned his farming background and interest in sales into a sweet corn business. For an FFA project, he researched the mold he noticed on one of his crops. His research led him to grow a different variety of sweet corn in a different type of soil to eliminate the mold.
This fall he will be a sophomore majoring in industrial engineering at NDSU. His field of study involves improving procedures and systems for business and government.
Early on, Boe and Gilderhus were inspired by older FFA members. At her first state convention, Boe watched the state officers with awe. They were confident. Welcoming. Comfortable in their own skin. They were excellent public speakers. She thought, “I want to be just like them.”
Gilderhus had the same reaction at his first state convention. They worked to become like their role models and were elected state officers for 2011-2012. Boe was president. Gilderhus was secretary. Their objective as leaders was to motivate younger students as they had been motivated. “It’s not about climbing the ladder,” Gilderhus said. “It’s about helping the person next to you.”
The 2012 State FFA Convention was the largest ever, Anderson said. Approximately 1,300 students from 76 schools as well as 90 advisers and more than 200 sponsors and parents attended.