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Apr 26 2021

Find Your Best Self

Former FFA member Rhonda Ludwig blazes a trail for women in Missouri FFA.

In the early 1980s, Rhonda (Scheulen) Ludwig was just another Missouri farm kid. Growing up in what she calls “salt of the earth farming,” Ludwig worked in pig pens and hauled hay. The former Fatima FFA member embraced public speaking opportunities, showed hogs at county and state fairs and built her supervised agricultural experience project in swine production.

 

Little did she know, though, she would help pave the way for other Missouri farm girls as Missouri’s first female state FFA president.

 

“I credit FFA with everything, every bit of success I’ve had,” Ludwig explains.

 

An FFA member who could both walk-the-walk and talk-the-talk, Ludwig says at the time she was elected to lead Missouri’s largest youth organization she only felt blessed to serve the membership.

 

“At the time, I was very accepted and was just grateful to have the opportunity,” Ludwig says.

 

While women were first able to join the National FFA Organization in 1969, Ludwig became Missouri’s first female state president in 1981. She went on in 1983 to become the state’s first and only female national officer.

 

As men dominated the agricultural landscape in the 1980s, Ludwig says she might have received additional recognition as a female officer but never considered herself any different than her peers. She remembers as a Greenhand aspiring to become a state officer, but never the first female state president.

 

“I was a farm kid who had a great opportunity, who was blessed with skills primarily in public speaking,” she explains. “I tell kids all the time, whatever God gave you as a talent, use it. For me, that was public speaking.”

After graduating high school, Ludwig attended the University of Missouri-Columbia where she majored in agricultural journalism. She says the communications skills she honed through FFA helped her discover her niche in that career path.

 

“(Developing) those communications skills — the ability to write and speak — in FFA were the biggest things that led me to agricultural journalism,” Ludwig says.

 

There, Ludwig found her comfort zone, which led her to a more than 30-year-career in agricultural media sales.

 

“Had it not been for those communication and speaking opportunities through FFA, I’m not sure I would have found it,” she says.

 

Ludwig’s career path includes 12 years of agricultural radio advertising sales with the Brownfield Network in Jefferson City as well as 12-plus years with Farm Progress where she sold print advertising and another six years with RFD-TV as a Midwest account manager. Today, the former FFA member lives on a farm near Linn, Missouri, with husband, Dale. The couple has three children — Trent, Claire and Troy.

 

“FFA has been a huge part of my entire career,” Ludwig explains. “My first job out of college, I got because of the contacts I made through FFA. Then each one you make more contacts, and it eventually leads to another opportunity down the road.”

 

As a National FFA Officer, Ludwig says she was afforded many travel opportunities that helped her meet people all across the country.

 

“FFA gave me a leg up, a great start and a great opportunity,” she says.

 

Ludwig encourages FFA members to embrace moments when they can make a positive impression and put forth extra effort.

 

“Always take every opportunity to put forth your best self,” Ludwig says. “You can’t win a public speaking contest without doing what every great athlete has to do. You have to work at it. If you work at it and practice, you develop those skills. Then it pays off.”

 

Agriculture has changed much since Ludwig’s days in the blue corduroy. Industry pathways now include a vast array of opportunities from beyond traditional production agriculture, and Ludwig says that alone underscores the connections FFA brings to its members.

 

Quick to point out that her experiences in the organization were life changing, Ludwig says the work ethic she learned at home on the farm combined with her FFA involvement and learning to set goals helped her find success.

 

“There are no limits to what anybody can do, but it doesn’t just happen,” she advises. “You have to work hard; you have to earn it. “You have to put in the time, and you have to figure out what you want, what your goals are. Everyone’s goals are different.”

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2021 MO FFA Convention Theme
Apr 26 2021

Missouri FFA Convention Kicks Off This Week

93rd Annual event slated for April 30, May 1 in Sedalia

2021 MO FFA Convention Theme

Missouri FFA is gearing up for its 93rd Annual State FFA Convention to be held later this week in Sedalia, Missouri. In the effort to hold an in-person event celebrating accomplishments of FFA members across the state while being responsible with current Covid-19-related health concerns, the event is set for April 30 and May 1 at the Mathewson Exhibition Center on the Missouri State Fairgrounds. The recognition-only event will be limited to award winners and two advisor/chaperones per school. Guest speakers, including National FFA Central Region Vice President and Missouri native Paxton Dahmer, will highlight the sessions, which will be live streamed for those unable to attend in person.

 

Morning and afternoon convention sessions are scheduled for Friday, April 30 and Saturday, May 1 with a goal of recognizing chapter activity awards, honorary state degree recipients, new FFA chapters, career development and leadership development event (CDE and LDE) winners, proficiency awards, star state degrees and state degree recipients. Other scholarship and essay winners will also be honored at the convention. CDEs and LDEs are currently planned during April at various times and locations in Columbia to accommodate social distancing protocols.

 

The sessions can be viewed via livestream at: https://livestream.com/modese/moffa

 

Student Workshops

Student workshops will be available the week of April 26 on missouriffa.org, highlighting 12 presentations from Dahmer, current state FFA officers, as well as Teach Ag Ambassadors and Post-Secondary Student organization officers, and can be viewed via a password-protected verification system for members.

 

Media Coverage

Missouri FFA will have a limited press room and have a new convention media website, which can be found at: www.convention.missouriffa.org. Four marked areas are available to media for interviews. These, along with our photographer and press room, will be in the Lowell Mohler Assembly Hall.  In the meantime, if we can help you find information you are used to having let us know.

 

Sponsors

As we work to recognize our sponsors, we have developed session sponsor videos.  We will play these at the beginning of each session and then share on social media.  Even though we are limiting attendance, we want to recognize our sponsors.  The success of Missouri FFA members is directly related to the support our sponsors provide.  We cannot thank you enough.

 

Covid Response

There is no higher priority of the Missouri FFA Association than the health, safety and well- being of our members, staff, volunteers and community partners. As we continue to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to make decisions with this in mind. As part of the Missouri FFA Association community, we all have a responsibility to help protect each other at all times. In compliance with current CDC recommendations, local mandates and/or statewide protocol, all attendees of the annual state FFA convention are asked to adhere to the following guidelines:

 

  • In an effort to provide our award winning FFA members an in-person experience, attendance will be limited to award winners, 2 advisor/chaperones per chapter and a few special guests.

 

  • Convention attendees are expected to wear face protection/face coverings in all indoor areas at all times.

 

  • Social distancing is expected at all times while attending convention.

 

  • Floor seating will be reserved for award winners only. Seating in the bowl area of Mathewson Exhibition Center will be limited to every other row. Some seating areas in the bowl area will be reserved.

 

  • Convention attendees are strongly encouraged to practice good hygiene, wash hands frequently, not touch their face, and cover coughs and sneezes with the inside of their elbow or upper arm. Please stay home if you have a fever, cough or other COVID symptoms.

 

  • Hand sanitizer stations will be placed throughout the convention meeting space.

 

  • COVID-19 protocol signage will be posted in highly visible locations that promote everyday protective measures.

 

  • Temperatures of convention staff will be taken daily. All individuals with a temperature of 100 degrees or higher will be isolated and sent home immediately.

 

  • Daily temperature screenings are the responsibility of the Ag Instructor for their chapter attendees. Missouri FFA has implemented preventative measures to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. However, Missouri FFA cannot guarantee that members and attendees will not be exposed or infected.

For complete convention coverage follow @MissouriFFA on Facebook and visit missouriffa.org.

 

 

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Mar 25 2021

Driving Home FFA

Governor Parson proclaims National FFA Week in Missouri.

Governor Mike Parson proclaimed February 20-27, 2021, as National FFA Week in Missouri on behalf of nearly 26,000 members of Missouri FFA. Missouri FFA President Justin Eddy of Columbia received the proclamation on behalf of the 2020-2021 Missouri FFA State Officer team.

“Missouri agriculture has a bright future, and you can see that in action through our FFA members,” Governor Parson said. “Living and working on a farm is one of my greatest honors, and the First Lady and I continue to look to these young leaders to move the agriculture industry forward for generations to come.”

For the third year in a row, Governor Parson drove a John Deere tractor to the State Capitol in honor of the FFA tradition of students driving their tractors to school during National FFA Week. Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe also joined in on the tradition again this year with the Governor, demonstrating their ties to agriculture and commitment to FFA students.

Listen to Gov. Parson as he leads other state leaders in delivering the FFA Creed and a heartfelt tribute to Missouri FFA. 

by Joann Pipkin

 

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Mar 25 2021

Do You Walk With Confidence?

Learn the Ins and Outs of the Employment Skills LDE and how it can prepare you for your first job interview.

Should you shake hands when introducing yourself? Do you need to ask to be seated? How might you answer the prompt, “Tell me about yourself?” Many high schoolers, college students and even young adults ask these questions and more before nervously walking into their first job interview. In fact, most feel unprepared. The National FFA Organization created a Leadership Development Event (LDE) to combat this stress and give FFA members the tools needed to walk in with confidence.

 

“The Employment Skills contest is the perfect preparation for real world job interviews and placement,” says Jessica Connelly, superintendent for the state Employment Skills LDE the past several years. “It’s designed to walk students through an application, interview and selection process. It’s one of the most practical professional development experiences available to students.”

 

Brooke Kreatz, a Chillicothe agricultural education instructor and FFA advisor, agrees the LDE equips students for their first job interview experience.

 

“Employment Skills prepares students for the process of applying for a job,” she says. “They have to be able to fill out a job application, prepare a cover letter and resume, as well as request and get a letter of recommendation in a timely manner. The overall mission is to produce a capable, contributing future employee through practicing these employment skills.”

 

As a human resources professional, Connelly encourages FFA members to exercise these skills in preparation for the future.

 

“Students can never be too prepared for what awaits them after walking the halls of their high school,” she says. “Whether it’s college, junior college, tech school or the work force, this LDE helps every student practice for the future.”

 

This preparation starts in high school through extracurricular activities like FFA, something Kreatz knows the impact of firsthand.

 

“Students who are involved in extracurricular activities are more confident and feel more comfortable when in front of future employers,” Kreatz says. “Marketing yourself is an important skill to have. The process of applying for a job can be stressful. If you already have the skills needed to go through the process it can ease that stress. I know from my own experiences that competing in LDEs and CDEs gave me an upper hand when interviewing because I knew what to expect, and I was able to walk in my interview rooms with confidence.”

 

In addition to confidence gained in extracurricular activities, employment skills are something all students benefit from learning.

 

“As part of the Agricultural Business Curriculum sponsored by FCS Financial, we are able to teach all students these skills in the classroom,” Kreatz says. “I am a firm believer that all students need to learn employment skills and build confidence, and this curriculum does just that. Students can learn so much from each other and it is important that they get a chance to interview in front of their peers.”

 

Connelly adds practice in and out of the classroom are critical in preparing for a future career.

 

“At some point, every student will experience the job interview and selection process,” Connelly says. “I always find myself performing best in those environments if I practice before. This contest is the practice and feedback to help all students perform well themselves.”

by Brandelyn Twellman

 

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Mar 25 2021

Greenhand Conferences Come to a Close

New look for the annual first-year-member event receives thumbs up.

Greenhand Motivational Conferences took on a new look this year. The annual conferences for first-year FFA members were offered during December and February as an in-chapter visit or as a video conference depending on the school school district’s health restrictions and protocols. State officers recorded an opening skit to kick off each conference, which centered around the theme of the program derived from the television sitcom The Office. Through this process the state officer team was able to present the 2021 GMC program to 238 (68% of the 351) FFA chapters all across Missouri.

 

Here’s what FFA advisors had to say about this year’s conferences:

 

“I just wanted to let you know that officer did a GREAT job today! She was with 21 freshmen for an hour and a half and kept them engaged the entire time. I really liked the curriculum for this year, it was relevant to the kids, and they really seemed to get into it. Thanks for all of your hard work, and please thank the state officers.” — Brian Gillen, Lockwood FFA Advisor

 

“Thank you for offering this! My students really enjoyed it, and the state officer did a great job!”

—Casteel Edwards – Skyline FFA Advisor

“Ricci amazed me today working with our underclassmen.  Virtual teaching is hard, she did a great job keeping them on task and interacting with them.  Kudos to the state officer team. The GMC program was great.” — Kendra Allen, Mexico FFA Advisor

by Joann Pipkin

 

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2021 MO FFA Convention Theme
Mar 25 2021

New Date, Location for State FFA Convention

93rd Annual event slated for April 30, May 1 in Sedalia

In the effort to hold an in-person event celebrating accomplishments of FFA members across the state while being responsible with current Covid-19-related health concerns, Missouri FFA plans to hold its 93rd Annual State FFA Convention April 30 and May 1 at the Mathewson Exhibition Center on the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia, Missouri. The recognition-only event will be limited to award winners and two advisor/chaperones per school. Guest speakers, including National FFA Central Region Vice President and Missouri native Paxton Dahmer, will highlight the sessions, which will be live streamed for those unable to attend in person.

 

“Our desire to hold an in-person event for our award winners has been the overarching goal in our decision to modify our normal convention location and protocol,” said Leon Busdieker, Missouri FFA state advisor. “FFA is hands-on. It’s a four-year program, and we think this year’s plan is the best way to recognize our students for their accomplishments while still being mindful of health-related concerns.”

 

Morning and afternoon convention sessions are scheduled for Friday, April 30 and Saturday, May 1 with a goal of recognizing chapter activity awards, honorary state degree recipients, new FFA chapters, career development and leadership development event (CDE and LDE) winners, proficiency awards, star state degrees and state degree recipients. Other scholarship and essay winners will also be honored at the convention. CDEs and LDEs are currently planned during April at various times and locations in Columbia to accommodate social distancing protocols.

 

Student workshops will be available the week of April 26 on missouriffa.org, highlighting 12 presentations from Dahmer, current state FFA officers, as well as Teach Ag Ambassadors and Post-Secondary Student organization officers, and can be viewed via a password-protected verification system for members.

 

Agricultural education joint staff committee, the 2020-21 Missouri State FFA Officers, Missouri Vocational Agriculture Teacher Executive Committee and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education state staff played a role in guiding the decision to move both the date and location for this year’s state convention.

 

“While we shifted last year’s convention to a virtual format, we believe we can host an in-person event that will recognize student accomplishments in a safe manner,” Busdieker said.

 

For updated convention information follow @MissouriFFA on Facebook and visit missouriffa.org.

 

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Feb 18 2021

District Contests Adjust Schedules

Career and Leadership Development Event schedules adjust statewide due to Covid-19.

Prompted by Covid-19 guidelines in many areas of the state, district FFA career and leadership development event schedules are taking on new formats this spring. Below is a list of the current schedule as of Feb. 15. Check out  Missouri FFA.org for up-to-date information.

 

Central District
CDEs – March 29 & 30
LDEs – April 1

Northwest District
CDEs – March 10, 17, 24 and 27
LDEs – March 22

Southwest District
CDEs & LDEs – March 25, 26, 27

South Central District
CDE/LDE – March 29
CDE – March 30 and April 01

Southeast District
CDE – March 23
CDE/LDE – March 24 and 27

Northeast District
CDE – March 9, 16, 20, 22, 23, 24, 31
LDEs – March 22

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Feb 18 2021

Settling in with CDEs

Preparing for spring career development events begins in the classroom.

Commonly known as contests in the FFA community, Career Development Events (CDEs) require more than luck or good timing. From skill to dedication and much preparation,  oftentimes, the road to success in CDEs starts with a foundation of knowledge built in classroom education.

 

“At the Cass Career Center, we prepare students for Career Development Events by teaching all students a foundational level of knowledge and skills of the CDE in the course where the curriculum is aligned,” says Jason Dieckhoff, one of the agricultural education teachers and FFA advisors at Cass Career Center. “For example, we teach the content knowledge and performance skills of the Forestry CDE in our Conservation course, starting six weeks prior to the start of CDE events. In our Veterinary & Equine Science course, we train students for the Equine CDE.  We feel all students benefit from the training, not just students who will be on the team.”

 

CDEs aim to give students an outlet to apply knowledge from the classroom to the field. Amanda Haeberlin, agricultural education teacher and FFA advisor at Palmyra High School, says agricultural curriculum’s focus on career exploration pairs well with preparation for CDEs. Students’ interest in what they’re learning lends well to them joining a team in the spring.

 

“I often mention why it’s part of the contest and how it applies to industry,” Haeberlin explains. “Plus, if you are teaching the curriculum, for a lot of them, it happens naturally.”

 

These teams are an essential addition to agricultural education, allowing students to apply content directly related to industry careers.

 

“They help students gain a number of skills,” Haeberlin says. “Job skills, speaking, work ethic. They give students a chance to excel outside of athletics. And they help them learn to deal with success and failure.”

 

Dieckhoff adds, “CDEs are also important because they are designed by a collaboration of industry representation and post-secondary colleges, so we keep training our students to the current industry demands and can adapt to new trends in the agriculture industry.”

 

Once they understand the significance of CDEs, it’s important to motivate students and sort out their intentions for the season ahead.

 

“Ag teachers have to rely on the personal relationships they have built with each student to see what will motivate them to do their best,” Dieckhoff explains. “Maybe that can be done through making practices fun or exciting, maybe it’s offering the only positive comments the student will hear in a day, and maybe it is convincing the student that they need this experience later on in their life.”

 

Haeberlin adds that it is important to find out the student’s end goal.  “Do they want to learn something new and have fun or do they want that and to be competitive and win,” she says. “If we all are not on the same page, we won’t enjoy contest season.”

 

Dieckhoff believes measuring the success of a CDE team looks different than one might expect.

 

“After 18 years of teaching, I have found students have success on a CDE when it significantly impacts their future,” he notes. “Having former students who took a job as a meat cutter after competing in the Meats CDE or get a job in a florist shop after doing the Floriculture CDE means more than any plaque on the wall.  Those former students are making a real difference in their communities, and it was inspired by their involvement in CDEs.”

by Brandelyn Twellman

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Feb 18 2021

Legislative Learners

State officers share ag education story with state lawmakers.

Missouri State FFA Officers met with state lawmakers Feb. 9, 2021, for a modified in-person Legislative Day. The group shared the story of agricultural education, agriculture and Missouri FFA on behalf of the 25,900 state FFA members.

Listen in on Missouri FFA State President Justin Eddy’s address to the Missouri House of Representatives. State FFA President Justin Eddy 2021 Legislative Day Address

 

by Joann Pipkin

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Jan 20 2021

GROWMARK Announces 2021 Missouri Essay Contest Winner

Press Release Compliments of GROWMARK

 

Madilynn Lippa of Montrose, Missouri, has been named the Missouri state winner of the 2021 GROWMARK essay contest for FFA members. The theme of this year’s contest was “If you could invent a new technology to improve agriculture, what would it be?” Students were encouraged to think creatively, not necessarily realistically, as they described their ideal invention.

In her contest entry, Lippa said: “The invention that is going to come into play is a food waste robot in every household. This robot takes food waste in and transports it to a local pig farm. Each robot will be set to recognize food from other foreign materials.”

Lippa is a student at Montrose R-XIV School District and a member of the Montrose FFA chapter. Her FFA advisor is Shayla Coale.

As the contest winner, Lippa will receive a $500 award from GROWMARK. The Montrose FFA chapter will also receive a $300 award in honor of her accomplishment.

Four state runners-up will each receive a $125 award. The runners-up and their FFA chapters are, in alphabetical order: Maggie Collins, Jefferson FFA, Ravenwood, Missouri; Emily Goetting, Carrollton ACC FFA, Norborne, Missouri; Ashland Higgins, Troy FFA, Moscow Mills, Missouri; and Abigail Miller, Eldon FFA, Olean, Missouri.

This is the 28th year for the program, sponsored by the GROWMARK System and FS member cooperatives, in conjunction with state FFA leaders, to help young people develop their writing skills, learn about current issues in agriculture, and understand the unique role of cooperatives.

GROWMARK is an agricultural cooperative providing agronomy, energy, facility planning, and logistics products and services, as well as grain marketing and risk management services throughout North America. Headquartered in Bloomington, Illinois, GROWMARK owns the FS trademark, which is used by affiliated member cooperatives. More information is available at www.growmark.com.

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