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Park Rapids FFA wins trophy at first state convention

The forestry team took home state champion honors and four individual gold rankings.

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The Park Rapids forestry team earned first place honors at the 93rd Minnesota FFA Convention April 24-26, 2022 at the University of Minnesota. Team members are, from left, Kelsey Berghuis (2nd individual), Hailey Kimball (7th individual), Sean Ward (15th individual) and Allison Offerdahl (3rd individual).
Contributed / Stephen Funk
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Forty-two members of the Park Rapids FFA chapter attended the 93rd Minnesota FFA Convention April 24-26 at the University of Minnesota.

Besides being officially recognized for rechartering the chapter, chapter members brought home a first-place trophy, as well as other honors in competition across a wide range of career and leadership contests and supervised agricultural experience (SAE) proficiencies.

“I am most impressed with the way our students conducted themselves throughout the convention,” said chapter co-advisor Amber Seibert. “Both in the spotlight and out of it, they were professional, enthusiastic, and incredibly supportive of one another, which made for a great convention experience for all of us.”

Chapter members Quinn Hoscheid and Aaliyah Preston served as convention delegates. Allison Offerdahl and Isaac Knapp carried the chapter’s official charter document across the stage at 3M Arena at Mariucchi as Park Rapids was recognized in front of more than 4,700 attendees.

The charter was signed last year during a ceremony at Park Rapids Area High School with local FFA members, Minnesota FFA staff and both state and national FFA representatives.

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The Park Rapids FFA, with 42 members attending, was recognized onstage as a newly chartered chapter during the first session of the 93rd Minnesota FFA Convention, April 24-26, 2022 at the University of Minnesota.
Contributed / Stephen Funk

The Park Rapids forestry team brought home state champion honors in their contest, in which 41 teams and 149 individuals competed. All the team members earned gold rankings, with Kelsey Berghuis placing second individually, Allison Offerdahl third, Hailey Kimball seventh and Sean Ward 15th. They will advance to represent Minnesota in the national forestry career development event (CDE) at this fall’s national FFA convention in Indianapolis.

Park Rapids students also earned recognition for their proficiencies in SAE projects, with Autumn Kietzman placing second in outdoor recreation and Hailey Kimball placing second in forest products.

Bringing home gold

In other CDE events:

  • The ag sales team placed 3rd out of 16 teams and was recognized on the big stage during the convention’s fourth general session. Among 64 individual competitors, Holly Johnson placed 5th and was ranked gold; Emma Vrieze, 8th and gold; Jaime Brann, 9th and gold; and Alexis Usher went bronze.
  • The floriculture team placed 6th out of 47 teams. Among 168 competitors, Maria Wagner placed 18th and went gold; Jillian Neubauer, 20th and gold; Keely Peterson, 37th and gold; and Hailee Heltemes went bronze.
  • The meats team placed 9th out of 34 teams. Out of 117 competitors, Isaac Knapp went gold and placed 9th, Levi Trygstad gold and 30th, Mackenzie Laferriere silver and Sophie Guida bronze.
  • The nursery landscape team placed 13th and went gold out of 44 teams. Among 160 competitors, Allie Rowland went gold at 25th place, Kilea Persons gold at 53rd, Lizzie Seifert silver and Amelia Bagstad bronze.
  • Park Rapids’ fish and wildlife team placed 20th out of 55 teams, earning a silver ranking. Out of 209 individuals competing, Eli DeVore went gold in 22nd place; Tyler Hillukka, gold in 65th; Naomi Knaack, silver; and Bianca DeRosa, bronze. 
  • The horse judging team placed 22nd out of 57 teams, a silver rating. Individually, Sarah Kurth went gold, placing 40th out of 200 competitors; Coley Girtz placed 54th; Ashley Stopka went silver; and Dawn Sharp went bronze.
  • The small animals veterinary science team placed 32nd of 55 teams, a silver rating. Individually, Emma Berghuis and Natalie Berghuis went silver, and Rachel and Ulvin and Isabel Nevala went bronze.
  • The crops team placed 20th out of 41 teams, earning a silver ranking. Out of 149 individuals, Anna Eckman placed 39th and Noah Huot 48th, both going gold, while Madysen Maninga and Eli Burton went bronze.
  • In the best informed greenhand competition, Aracely Gutierrez went gold, Brooke Kritzeck silver and Lydia Leacox bronze.
  • Autumn Kietzman earned a silver ranking in the employment skills contest.

“This was such an amazing convention for our FFA members,” said chapter co-advisor Stephen Funk. “It was extremely rewarding to see their hard work pay off.”
Funk acknowledged the support of Park Rapids businesses and individual sponsors, providing instruction and other resources to prepare for their contests.

“These kids worked so hard to achieve the results that they earned, but their success is very closely tied to the support that our entire school and community has shown to our FFA chapter,” he said.

Life-changing experiences

In an interview on FFA Live during the pre-session broadcast for the fourth general session, chapter member Allison Offerdahl said, “The first time that I zipped up that blue corduroy jacket, I never realized how much of an impact it would have on my life. That jacket has carried me through some of the most joyous times in my life, and it has supported me in some of the worst. It gave me the confidence to try new things, to lead a chapter, and to be a part of something bigger than myself.

“FFA hasn’t just taught me how to tell the difference between a maple tree and an oak tree, it has taught me that it is okay to make mistakes, it is okay to make a fool out of myself trying something new; but that it is never okay to give up.

“It is nearing the end for my FFA career, when I will unzip my jacket for the last time, which is something that I am not looking forward to, but I will never forget the memories that lie deep beneath that corduroy.”

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