Members of Little Switzerland FFA Chapter experience successful State Convention

Waukon FFA Chapter members at State Convention ...
Waukon FFA Chapter members at State Convention ... Left to right - Front to back: Drew Weymiller, Owen Regan, Elizabeth Fossum, Caleb Helgerson, Tucker Burrichter, Wyatt Baxter, Trudy Baxter, Drake Hankes, Ethan Gibbs, Olivia Marti, John Marti, Mallory Berns, Alaina Gebel, Natalie Byrnes, Ryan Kolsrud, Gracelyn Donahue, Kendra Gibbs, Molly Peake, Cassidy Gibbs, Mercedes Wilkins, Sarah Stock, Kiersten Gibbs. Submitted photo.

FFA members from across the state of Iowa celebrated success when they gathered for the 95th Iowa FFA Leadership Conference April 16-18 this spring at Iowa State University’s Hilton Coliseum in Ames. The Iowa FFA State Leadership Conference is one the largest of its kind in the National FFA Organization. Various Little Switzerland FFA members from Waukon High School attended the annual conference to participate in a number of events and to also receive a variety of awards and recognition earned throughout the past year.

The 2023 Stars Over Iowa Winners were announced at the Conference April 18. A Star Over Iowa was selected in each of four different areas: Agricultural Placement, Agribusiness, Agriscience, and Agricultural Production. The 2023 Star in Ag Placement Winner is Natalie Byrnes, who has productively invested over 2,100 recorded hours milking and monitoring health of a dairy herd at Prairie Star Farms. Throughout the course of her Supervised Agricultural Education (SAE), she has grown in her communication and problem-solving skills that will greatly benefit her future personal and professional endeavors. She is the daughter of Dan and Traci Byrnes of rural Waukon.

All FFA members have proficiencies as part of the agricultural program and FFA. These proficiencies range in the areas of Agricultural Communications to Service Learning and from Diversified Agricultural Production to Swine Production. Proficiency Award winners have excelled in their SAE Programs. These awards encourage members to develop specialized skills that will apply toward a future career. State winners advance to the National FFA competition where they will compete against winners from the other State FFA Associations. The champion in the area of Dairy Production Placement was Kiersten Gibbs, daughter of Chris and Kerri Gibbs of Waterville.

The National Chapter Award program encourages participating chapters to plan activities and carry them out with a successful Program of Activities. Chapters are recognized for outstanding achievement in the areas of Growing Leaders, Building Communities, and Strengthening Agriculture. The Little Switzerland FFA Chapter was recognized as one of the top 26 chapters out of the 260 chapters across the state of Iowa. The chapter’s application moved on to the National competition in November.

Chapter Exhibit is an event that displays information on one chapter project or activity. The information had to include how this one feature of the annual program was organized, conducted and what results were accomplished. Team members Mercedes Wilkins, Sarah Stock and Molly Peake received a Gold rating.

FFA Chapter Website Leadership Development Event is designed to encourage development of a website to promote the local FFA chapter. It is designed to stimulate the technological implementation of computer skills and web page design. Any number of members are encouraged to develop and maintain the website, but one member is designated to present the features of each chapter’s website. Olivia Marti represented the Waukon FFA Chapter and received a Silver rating.

FFA teams from 86 chapters participated in this year’s Agricultural Sales Career Development Event (CDE) designed to provide the student an opportunity to display their agricultural knowledge and skills in the area of Agriculture Sales. The 340 individuals who participated in the event each completed an objective test, made a sales presentation, and performed a customer relations practicum. All team members worked together to prepare a marketing plan and make an oral presentation of the plan to the judges. Bringing home a Silver rating was the team of Tucker Burrichter, Trudy Baxter, Wyatt Baxter and Drew Weymiller.

The FFA Poultry Evaluation CDE provides an opportunity for FFA members to display their agricultural knowledge and skills in the area of Poultry Evaluation.  Activities included placing classes of live poultry, placing and grading classes of ready-to-cook poultry, grading classes of egg interiors and exteriors, identifying and grading further process poultry products, and a poultry production examination. There were 525 members participating from 140 chapters. Mallory Berns, Molly Peake, Sarah Stock and Mercedes Wilkins received a Gold rating at the event.

Members Kendra Gibbs and John Marti showcased their knowledge about the FFA during their greenhand quiz contest. The exam asked members to recall major events that occurred throughout the national and state FFA history, parliamentary procedure knowledge, general knowledge and questions about the  state officer team. Both members received Gold ratings.

The Iowa FFA Degree is the highest degree that can be bestowed upon an FFA member by the Iowa FFA Association each year. Only five percent of FFA members in Iowa receive the degree each year. To receive the Iowa FFA Degree, FFA members must meet the following standards: 1) Have been an active FFA member for at least 24 months; 2) Have completed at least two years of systematic instruction in agricultural education; 3) Have earned and productively invested at least $1,500 or worked at least 375 hours in a supervised agricultural experience program; 4) Have a satisfactory scholastic record; 5) Have demonstrated leadership abilities from a specific list of activities; 6) Have completed 25 hours of community service; and 7) Have participated in at least five different FFA activities above the local level. Waukon FFA members Natalie Byrnes, Alaina Gebel, Cassidy Gibbs and Kiersten Gibbs were all awarded their Iowa FFA Degree at the Leadership Conference April 18.

Molly Peake also participated in the Iowa FFA Chorus where she gathered with other FFA members across Iowa to showcase their musical talents. Ryan Kolsrud and Sarah Stock served as the Waukon FFA chapter delegates voting on items of business presented, as well as choosing the 2023-2024 State Officer Team.