Fairmont FFA students qualify for state convention

FAIRMONT – After placing in the top bracket at regional competition, 13 Fairmont Junior/Senior High School students earned the right to vie for honors at the state Future Farmers of America competition April 27-29 at the University of Minnesota. This is the second year of the ag program at the school.

Amber Seibert, Fairmont agricultural instructor and FFA advisor, said the students will be competing in four different categories: parliamentary procedure, dairy cattle evaluation, general livestock evaluation and forestry.

Derek Mielke, a junior, and Luke Becker, a senior, are members of the four-person team that took fifth place in regional competition for evaluating sheep, pigs, goats and cows.

“It’s fun,” Becker said about FFA and the competitions. Due to a conflict, he will be unable to participate in the state contest.

“I’m involved with ag every day, but being involved with friends is an additive,” he said, noting that he has learned a lot as vice president of the Fairmont FFA chapter.

“It (FFA) doesn’t have to be just for kids on a farm. We’re trying to advocate that,” said senior Mackenzie Betts. “You learn things you can take with you your whole life.”

She and sophomore Brice Bonin are part of a six-member team that took top honors and regional competition and will face off against 18 other teams in St. Paul.

“For me, FFA has helped me learn to relate better to people,” Bonin said.

Mielke, who plans to study agribusiness and economics in college, hopes to farm someday.

“My dad was in FFA and wanted me to see what it’s like,” he said.

Seibert said about 150 students in the eighth grade and high school currently are enrolled in the various ag courses she teaches, which automatically make them FFA members. She estimates about 40 students are “real active” in the FFA program.

Steven Bulfer will represent Fairmont FFA in the forestry category at state, after qualifying as an individual. He will identify various trees and demonstrate knowledge of basic forestry principles and skill, such as forest disorders, management, inventory and common industry practices.

In the general livestock evaluation category, contestants will evaluate beef cattle, sheep, swing and goats on physical characteristics and records for market and breeding usage. Team members are Luke Becker, Larissa Becker, Joe Weber, Derek Mielke and Hannah Olson.

The dairy evaluation team, which placed seventh at the regional level, will evaluate dairy cattle on physical characteristics using linear classification and pedigrees, and complete a team practicum on dairy management practices. Team members are Brice Bonin, Macy Petrowiak and Andrea Thate.

By conducting a mock meeting, according to parliamentary law, members will demonstrate their ability to use correct parliamentary procedure in that category. The team, which placed first at regionals, includes Nick Roggow, Luke Becker, Mackenzie Betts, Pauline Anderson, Brice Bonin, Joe Weber and Rachael Mielke.