Jillian Neubauer placed first in the Minnesota FFA convention on April 20.

Her win helped the Park Rapids FFA make a splash in their first state FFA convention in three decades, according to chapter adviser Stephen Funk.

Neubauer played Johann Sebastian Bach’s “March in E-flat Major” on the piano. Her performance was selected as one of 10 acts to be shared in a talent revue across the state, and she will be eligible to apply to be in the national FFA talent competition this October in Indianapolis.

“I am so proud of Jillian for putting herself out there and sharing her talents for others to see,” said Funk. “The Minnesota FFA convention theme this year is ‘Worth It,’ and i think it’s worth it to take some risks and take advantage of the opportunities that you are given in life. Jillian did a tremendous job of representing herself, our school and our community.”

Sarah Kaufenberg, Neubauer’s piano teacher, said, “Jillian is a dedicated student who has a love for the piano and music. She is a pleasure to teach. She has worked hard and is looking forward nationals.”

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"I am surprised that I won,” said Neubauer, “considering how small of a school we have compared to some of the other programs in the state, but I am happy that Mr. Funk encouraged me to submit an entry. It turned out to be an awesome experience, and I am excited about the possibility of National FFA talent."

Funk noted that the convention was held virtually due to COVID-19 concerns. In order to include the audience’s voice, the state FFA invited participants to vote online after watching each performance. Based on the votes and the judges’ evaluation, Neubauer was named the winner.

Other members of the Park Rapids chapter competed April 19-23 in various contests connected with the state convention. Hannah Morgan competed in employment skills. Allison Offerdahl participated in the Farm Bureau discussion meet. Annah Eckmann and Emily Knapp competed for Best Informed Greenhand, with Eckmann earning a gold ranking and placing sixth out of 149 students from across the state. Knapp earned a silver rating.

“A highlight of the first week of our virtual convention was a visit from the five Minnesota FFA officers and the national Southern Region vice president, Artha Jonassaint,” said Funk. “They stopped by Park Rapids High School to bring greetings, share reflections, and to conduct the signing ceremony to officially re-charter the Park Rapids FFA Chapter. It was an exciting week.”

Funk added that chapter members were to compete virtually in seven more career development events during the second week of the convention, through Thursday, April 29.