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Contest win changes Park Rapids FFA member’s career plans

Allison Offerdahl, who placed first nationally in the FFA's forestry competition, told the school board on Nov. 7 that she is changing her major to agricultural education.

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The Park Rapids FFA forestry team brought home second place honors at the 95th National FFA Convention on Oct. 28, 2022. Team members also earned gold individually, with Allison Offerdahl, at left, placing first, Hailey Kimball fourth, Kelsey Berghuis fifth and Sean Ward 43rd.
Contributed / Stephen Funk
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The Park Rapids School Board heard Nov. 7 that placing first in the national FFA forestry contest has helped change an Area High School graduate’s plans for her future.

Park Rapids FFA co-advisor Stephen Funk and club members Hailey Kimball and Allison Offerdahl reported on the forestry team’s success at the national FFA convention last month in Indianapolis.

They placed second as a team, while Offerdahl placed first as an individual, Kimball fourth and Kelsey Berghuis fifth after achieving the highest written exam score in the history of the contest.

Offerdahl, who graduated this spring after the team placed first at state, announced she has decided to transfer from a nursing program to the agricultural education program at the University of Minnesota Crookston, with a minor in forestry.

“FFA really helped guide me to what I want to do with the rest of my life,” said Offerdahl.

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Funk noted that Offerdahl will be the second graduate of the high school’s two-year-old agricultural program to go on to a career in ag education.

Funk also reported that members of the forestry team have already been offered forestry internships as a result of their performance at nationals.

“As a brand-new program, it’s pretty cool to see Minnesota FFA send out their ‘Highlights of Convention,’ and Park Rapids FFA was the headline of what Minnesota was able to accomplish at convention,” said Funk. “They’re making it look way too easy, way too soon, because they’re working really hard. But I think that the Park Rapids model is a pretty good model for other ag programs as well. It’s kind of amazing what you can do when administration and the board and the community get behind a program and they push. We’re achieving some pretty cool things.”

School board business in brief

In consent items and general business, the school board:

  • Supported an application to the Minnesota State High School League Foundation for a Form A grant to offset student activity fees.
  • Approved a cooperative agreement for boys hockey with Walker-Hackensack-Akeley.
  • Approved offering free school meals in December for families who submit an Application for Educational Benefits by Dec. 1 or who qualify for free and reduced lunch for the 2022-23 school year.
  • Rescinded the hiring of Lisa Turek as an elementary paraprofessional.
  • Hired Erin Gonska and Sara Carroll as middle school paras, McKenna Thiele as an elementary para, Robert Pretzer as a high school para, Tammy Pacheco as a part-time cook’s helper and Paul Oudekerk as a custodian.
  • Approved the resignations of Jasmine Williams as a high school custodian and Sheila Koch as a special education/virtual academy secretary. 
  • Approved a second reading of a Type III driver job description.
  • Acknowledged donations totaling $7,535 from Itasca-Mantrap Electrical Co-op, including $1,550 to the Alternative Learning Center (ALC), $1,200 to the band program, $1,000 to high school teacher Tanya Miller, $600 to the Indian Education department and $500 each to elementary teacher Kristen Poehler and the high school Business Professionals of America club.
  • Acknowledged donations totaling $3,560 to the FFA national forestry team, including $750 from the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and $500 each from JAYMAR LLC, Kimball’s Logging Inc. and Kuschel Cattle LLC. 
  • Acknowledged further donations to the schools, including a sewing machine from Sally Wizik Wills to the Indian Education department; a bench from the high school class of 1972; $1,000 from Peace Lutheran Church to the food service program; and a gift from Riverside United Methodist Church Women to the ALC.
  • Scheduled a special meeting for 7:45 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16 to canvass election results for the school board election ending Nov. 8. Board secretary Kim Splett explained that the canvass must take place between Nov. 12 and 18.
  • Had a closed session for a performance review of Superintendent Lance Bagstad and a board self-review. 

The school board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 21 at the Frank White Education Center.

MORE RELATED COVERAGE:
The school board learned Jan. 23 that the district is part of a group of districts partnering in a $3.8 million DHS grant to increase mental health services in the schools.

Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at rfish@parkrapidsenterprise.com or 218-252-3053.
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