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Sep 06 2021

Drive to Feed Kids Provides More than 2 Million Meals to Missourians in Need

Missouri Farmers Care Foundation proudly announced Saturday, Aug. 21, that resources were raised to provide 2,015,088 meals to help feed hungry children across our state through the 2021 Drive to Feed Kids.


“Over 10 years ago, the leadership of Missouri Farmers Care saw there was a gap between the hard work of our farmers and ranchers producing food year-round for consumers, and what ended up on Missourians’ dinner tables,” said Executive Director of Missouri Farmers Care Foundation Ashley McCarty. “They felt called to fill in that gap on behalf of those who couldn’t do anything to change their situation. Out of that effort evolved the Drive to Feed Kids.”


This year, Missouri’s agricultural youth programs partnered with the Drive to raise meals for communities across the state. Missouri 4-H members donated 356,665 meals during their 4-H Feeding Missouri campaign which ran January – April 2021 and packed an additional 500 meal boxes for veterans at the Missouri State Fair. On Aug. 17, more than 700 Missouri FFA Association members and agricultural leaders came together at the Missouri State Fair to pack 203,544 family meals for the Missouri FFA Food Insecurity Day.


The Drive to Feed Kids campaign continues to expand its partnerships and ways to donate. The Hogs for Hunger program, previously known as the Missouri Farmers Care Pork Partnership, connected Missouri pig farmers, 4-H and FFA exhibitors to meat processors and local food banks. More than 900 pounds of ground pork was provided by Missouri State Fair swine exhibitors and a partnership with Feeding Missouri has contributed an additional 205,883 pounds of high-quality protein to all six regional food banks. Missouri pig farmers can still donate to their local food bank through this program. Missouri Farmers Care Foundation will reimburse $1 per pound donated to cover processing fees.


Governor Mike Parson and First Lady Teresa Parson, along with Missouri elected officials and agricultural leaders, joined the cause on Thursday, Aug. 19. Together, they packed 500 share boxes that will provide nourishment to central Missouri families in need.


Fairgoers participated in the events by bringing non-perishable food items and monetary donations on Missouri Farmers Care Food Drive $2 Tuesday. Through these activities and a generous canned food donation by Woods Supermarket, more than 13,000 pounds of non-perishable food was donated to local pantries. In addition, Missouri FFA donated fresh produce from FFA student projects on display at the fair. The year-long campaign concluded Saturday, Aug. 21 at the Missouri State Fair.


“There are thousands of hard-working Missourians who can’t make ends meet and don’t have enough to feed their families. That’s just a reality in Missouri,” said State Director of Feeding Missouri Scott Baker. “However, another reality is the heart and commitment of Missouri’s farmers to do all they can to help neighbors in need. The impact of the Drive to Feed Kids campaign is substantial and we are truly grateful.”


To learn more about Drive to Feed Kids events and how you can get involved, Photos from this year’s Drive to Feed Kids’ events can also be found on the Missouri Farmers Care Flickr pageClick Here.


Sponsorship of Missouri Farmers Care Foundation’s Drive to Feed Kids was provided by: Bayer, Brownfield Ag News, Missouri Farmers Care, American Family Insurance, FCS Financial, MFA Incorporated, Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri Soybean Association, Missouri Corn Merchandising Council, Missouri Bicentennial Commission, NutraBlend, Allen P. & Josephine B. Green Foundation, Jerry Litton Family Memorial Foundation, American Family Dreams Foundation, Missouri Pork Association, Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, Forrest and Charlotte Lucas – Founders of Protect the Harvest, Missouri State Fair Foundation, Dr. and Mrs. Alan Wessler, Midwest Dairy, Sydenstricker Nobbe Partners John Deere, PFI Western Store, Citizens Electric Cooperative, Platte Clay Electric, Ricketts Farm Service, Inc., Robert Hertzog, DVM, Mid-Buchanan FFA Alumni Boosters, Missouri FFA Association, Missouri Department of Agriculture, Missouri State Fair, Missouri 4-H and the contributions of many Missouri farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses.

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Jun 30 2021

Missouri Corn and Missouri FFA Helping Build Future Leaders

Thirty incoming seniors from across the state participated in the Missouri FFA HYPE Academy, sponsored by the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council, June 22-24 in Jefferson City to sharpen their leadership and advocacy skills. Photo Credit: Missouri Corn Merchandising Council

Missouri’s top 30 FFA high school seniors completed the seventh annual Helping Youth Prepare for Excellence (HYPE) FFA Academy June 22-24, in Jefferson City, Mo. The three-day intensive program is designed to inform and empower students to effectively engage on pressing agriculture topics. Since 2015, the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council (MCMC) has sponsored and facilitated the academy in conjunction with Missouri FFA.


“Missouri Corn is proud to support the HYPE Academy and invest in the future of our industry,” said MCMC board member Jay Fischer of Jefferson City. “Having visited with the FFA students this week, I was impressed with their understanding of issues impacting agriculture and their passion for making a difference. It is clear the future is bright for these young adults, and we look forward to welcoming them to the agriculture industry after they complete their education.”


Over the three days, students participated in sessions promoting advocacy training, social media, communications, and stakeholder collaboration. In addition, discussions included overcoming adversity, developing a personal brand, and engaging those with opposing viewpoints. Students learned from farmers, industry representatives, social media experts, and others on effectively advocating on issues facing the industry. The group also explored the Missouri Soybean Center for Soy Innovation.


“HYPE is a great opportunity for students to engage in real-world agricultural issues and sharpen their leadership and advocacy skills,” noted Missouri FFA Advisor Leon Busdieker. “By sharing what they have learned when they return home, participants create a ripple effect within their chapter, strengthening the voice of members across the state.”


Capping off the three-day HYPE Academy, participants presented testimony to Missouri legislators during mock hearings on agricultural issues June 24 in the State Capitol. Photo Credit: Missouri Corn Merchandising Council

In culmination, participants testified on key issues during mock hearings with legislators at the Missouri State Capitol. This year’s topics included the federal Renewable Fuel Standard, estate taxes, waterway infrastructure, agriculture inspections, and eminent domain. Missouri Sens. Mike Bernskoetter (R-Jefferson City) and Barbara Washington (D-Kansas City), and State Reps. Rusty Black (R-Chillicothe), Kent Haden (R-Mexico), Greg Sharpe (R-Ewing), Sara Walsh (R-Ashland), Louis Riggs (R-Hannibal), and Tracy McCreery (D-St. Louis) interacted with and challenged the students. Missouri Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn concluded the academy by empowering participants to use their newfound skills as they continue to represent Missouri’s number one industry.


The Missouri Corn Merchandising Council is an organization of corn growers dedicated to developing and expanding corn markets, educating growers and customers, and exploring new research opportunities. The National FFA Organization makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education. Contact Missouri Corn Associate Director of Communications Hilary Black at (800) 827-4181 or for more information about HYPE Academy.

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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:


Student Workshops

Student workshops will be available the week of April 26 on, 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: 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.



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



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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, 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


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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 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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