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Minnesota FFA Names Top Awards, Elects Leaders
Minnesota Ag Connection - 05/22/2020

The final session of the 91st Minnesota FFA Convention concluded with the election of the six-member state officer team during the third day of the 91st Minnesota State FFA Convention. The event is being held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic and included recognition presented by video on the Minnesota FFA YouTube page.

The 2020-2021 Minnesota FFA State Officer Team includes:

President: Ben Olander -- Staples Motley FFA;

Vice President: Emilee Xayanourom (see-ann-u-rome) -- Mountain Lake FFA;

Secretary: Mackenzie Craig -- Alexandria FFA;

Treasurer: Elaina Knott -- Thief River Falls FFA;

Reporter: Anna Euerle -- Litchfield FFA; and

Sentinel: Laney Swiers -- Mahnomen FFA.

The newly elected team will serve nearly 11,000 members in Minnesota for one year. They will also spend the next year representing Minnesota, agriculture and agricultural education at state and national levels. The state officer candidates were interviewed by a panel of FFA members, agricultural educators and representatives from partnering organizations earlier this month.

The convention included a first-ever Region president reflections program.

Each of the eight Region presidents highlighted a person or program from their area representing core FFA values of opportunity, supervised agricultural experiences, growth, character, communication, positivity, leadership and classroom experiences.

"[During this convention] we are rooted this year in the places where our stories begin," said Olivia Leslie, Region II president. "Exactly where you are, exactly who you are with ... these things are the heartbeat of our organization. You are the light reminding the world around you that WE, the future of agriculture and our communities, are here."

The Eden Valley Watkins FFA Chapter received top honors for the State FFA National Chapter Award, sponsored by the Minnesota FFA Foundation. FFA chapters apply for this honor by highlighting their activities in the categories of growing leaders, building communities and strengthening agriculture. Chapter applications are reviewed and scored by a series of judges who evaluate innovative ideas and accomplished goals. Other chapters advancing to national competition included: Chatfield, Howard Lake Waverly Winsted, South Central AgriScience Academy, Staples-Motley, Princeton, Sleepy Eye, Randolph, Plainview-Elgin-Millville, Forest Lake, Springfield, Academy for Sciences and Agriculture, Morris Area, Redwood Valley, Martin County West, Dassel-Cokato, Thief River Falls, Detroit Lakes and Tracy Area.

Nic Potthoff, Minnesota FFA state vice president, opened up, sharing about the moments in his life which have shaped him.

"Find your true self, and don't change it," he said, "Love yourself for who you truly are."

As an active theater student, Potthoff found himself adjusting to the roles of the character. He said it was an organization such as FFA that showed him to live his life, instead of someone else's.

Dr. Zane Sheehan, Minnesota FFA state advisor and Minnesota Department of Education supervisor, encouraged FFA members to continue to grow leaders through the FFA organization.

"FFA is a great organization and continues to make a big difference," said Dr. Sheehan. "There are 35,000 students who take classes in agriculture, food and natural resources, and 11,000 in FFA; that means one in every three agricultural education students get to participate [in FFA]. All of us probably had someone who influenced us in FFA ... we need to make sure everyone else has that experience because those leadership and communication skills are valuable."

"Let's make sure we spend time loving and supporting one another," said Dr Sheehan. "That is what this organization is about; to practice brotherhood, as our opening ceremony states."

Minnesota FFA State President Lafe Aarsvold provided the last retiring address of the 91st Minnesota FFA Convention. During the virtual address, Aarsvold spoke on the multiple meanings of love.

"Love is the greatest force on this Earth," said Aarsvold. " It's what gets us up in the morning and gives us energy throughout the days. It's what brings joy, laughter and friendship to our lives."

All of the 2019-2020 state officer retiring addresses can be found on the Minnesota FFA Association YouTube page.

More than 10,000 members of the Minnesota FFA Association and 35,000 agricultural education students were offered choices of 12 virtual workshops, panel discussions and tours on topics ranging from self-leadership to careers.

The convention's third day ended with an "After The Gavel" event hosted by the newly retired and elected Minnesota FFA State Officer teams.

Links to watch the virtual award ceremonies can be found on the Convention App at https://event.crowdcompass.com/mnffa2020 on desktop, or by searching Minnesota FFA on the Crowd Compass Attendee Hub app on mobile devices.

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