National FFA Organization Names South Dakota Resident 2016 American Star in Agriscience Finalist


For as long as she can remember, Elizabeth Renner of Crooks, S.D., has been fascinated by the critters that inhabit aquatic areas. In fact, the West Central FFA member fondly recalls exploring the fields and streams in her area and examining all of the different insects and organisms.

Her love for scientific research continued to grow as she became older, and today, she has been named a 2016 finalist for the American Star in Agriscience, one of the most prestigious honors awarded to a student by the National FFA Organization.

Renner’s first opportunity to do scientific research on aquatic organisms came through her involvement in an FFA Agriscience Fair during her freshman year. Her scientific explorations continued through high school and even included an internship with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Following her freshman year in college, she conducted research with a professor on historic plant communities to see how ecosystems changed following the arrival of European settlers. During the summer of her sophomore year, she conducted stream surveys at bridge and box culvert construction sites for the South Dakota Department of Transportation.

She followed this experience by working in a stream ecology laboratory at an Alaskan nonprofit dedicated to protecting salmon streams within the Cook Inlet watershed. Today, the Augustana University senior plans to study how climate change influences stream organisms.

She plans to earn a doctorate in aquatic ecology and conduct research on aquatic ecosystems as an environmental consultant to federal agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Environmental Protection Agency. She also feels called to educate the general public about the importance of aquatic organisms and wetlands for the health of communities.

Each year at the National FFA Convention & Expo, four FFA members are honored with American Star Awards for outstanding accomplishments in FFA and agricultural education.

The American Star Awards, including American Star Farmer, American Star in Agribusiness, American Star in Agricultural Placement and American Star in Agriscience, are presented to FFA members who demonstrate outstanding agricultural skills and competencies through completion of a supervised agricultural experience. A required activity in FFA, an SAE allows students to learn by doing, either by owning and operating an agricultural business, working or serving an internship at an agriculture-based business or conducting an agriculture-based scientific experiment and reporting results.

Other requirements to achieve the award include demonstrating top management skills; completing key agricultural education, scholastic and leadership requirements; and earning an American FFA Degree, the organization’s highest level of student accomplishment.

Sixteen American Star Award finalists from throughout the U.S. are nominated by a panel of judges who then interview the finalists during the national convention and expo. Four are named winners and receive cash awards totaling $4,000. All American Star finalists receive a $2,000 cash award. The American Star Awards are sponsored by ADM Crop Risk Services, Case IH, Elanco Animal Health, Farm Credit and Syngenta as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.

Judging will occur in Indianapolis during the 89th National FFA Convention & Expo, Oct. 19-22, with the winners being announced during an onstage ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 20.

Renner is the daughter of Tim and Karin Renner. She is a member of the West Central FFA Chapter, led by advisor Linda Petersen.

The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 629,367 student members who belong to one of 7,757 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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Sixteen Earn Organizations Highest Award

Sixteen West Central FFA members will be awarded the American FFA Degree during the 89th National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, IN in October.  Earning the degree means they are among a select group of individuals to be recognized for years of academic and professional excellence!
The American FFA Degree is the highest award that can be bestowed upon an FFA member.  Roughly 3,500 of the current 629,367 members will be awarded the degree during the National FFA Convention.  This represents one half of one percent of all members.  The American FFA Degree recognizes demonstrated leadership ability and outstanding achievements in agricultural business, production, processing or service programs.  To be eligible, members must have earned and productively invested $7,500 through a Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) program in which they start, own, or hold a professional position in an existing agricultural enterprise.  Recipients must also make it their mission to demonstrate outstanding leadership abilities and community involvement.  West Central FFA members earning the American FFA Degree include Jake Anderson, Taylor Bergeson, Jared Blume, Tayt Boeckholt, Lauren Dolly, Cody Farmer, Kylie Hanisch, Ashlynn Henning, Dean Knuth, Layne Krier, Noah Larson, Josh Mettler, Liz Renner, Rachel Schartz, Sara Waldner, and Amber Weber.  
The American FFA Degree Recognition program is sponsored by ADM, Case IH, Elanco, Farm Credit Services, and Syngenta.  The West Central FFA is advised by Linda Petersen.
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Humboldt Threshing Show Scholarship

The Humboldt “Old Fashion Threshing Show” will be awarding two $1000 scholarships to West Central FFA members who have volunteered their time at the show for two or more years.  One scholarship will go to a boy and one to a girl.  The application is due postmarked October 1, 2016.  The application is below.

The Threshing Show is Friday through Sunday, August 12 – 14. The site is located 3 1/4 miles south of Humboldt on  Highway 19.

Hours for the Threshing Show are:

Friday – Tractors pull 4 p.m.
Saturday – 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Sunday – 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Be sure to sign in at the camper when you arrive and leave.

Humboldt Threshing Show Scholarship Application

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State CDE Results

Twenty-four CDEs (Career Development Events) cover job skills in everything from communications to mechanics. Some events allow students to compete as individuals, while others allow them to compete in teams.   State winning teams and individuals earn a berth in their respective national CDE during the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, IN in October.  Members prepared well and spent a great deal of time studying.  Students competed in three preliminary CDE competitions in preparation for the state level event. West Central had three teams who excelled on the state level.  The Nursery Landscape team placed third. The CDE tests students skills in aspects of maintaining landscape plants and related products, evaluating equipment and services, and landscape design.Nursery Landscape Team

Nursery Landscape CDE Team – Linda Petersen – FFA Advisor, Quinn Hanisch, Benjamin Miles, Cory Smith, and Austin Ideker

The Environmental Natural Resources CDE Team placed 2nd, the CDE challenges students abilities in environmental and natural resources problem solving; soil tests and profiles; air and water analysis; GPS use; waste management; and more.

ENR Team

ENR Team members: Linda Petersen – FFA Advisor, Ryan Titus, Andrew Jungles, Kyle Vockrodt, and Matt Dellman.

In the Horse Evaluation CDE, students evaluate and rank horses based on breed characteristics, conformation and performance. As a team, students cooperatively solve problems related to equine selection, management, nutrition and production. The Horse Evaluation team earned the state title and will compete on the national level in Indianapolis, IN this October.  Team members include Braden Pirrung, Blair Lammers, Reece Ullerich, and Lauryn Riepma.  Devin DeMent will serve as an alternate replacing Blair Lammers for the National contest.

Horse Team

State winning Horse Evaluation Team: Linda Petersen – FFA Advisor, Braden Pirrung, Blair Lammers, Reece Ullerich, and Lauryn Riepma.

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Members Earn Proficiency Awards

During the annual State FFA Convention members were recognized for their achievement in experiential learning through their SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experiences). Through their involvement in the SAE program, students are able to consider multiple careers and occupations, learn expected workplace behavior, develop specific skills within an industry, and are given opportunities to apply academic and occupational skills in the workplace or a simulated workplace environment. Through these strategies, students learn how to apply what they are learning in the classroom as they prepare to transition into the world of college and career opportunities. On the state level, finalists earn award money provided through the South Dakota FFA Foundation.  First place receives $250, second place – $100, and third place $50. State winning applications advance to national competition where four “National Finalists” are selected for each of the award areas and will go on to compete for a national proficiency award. Each national finalist receives $500 cash award and a plaque. National winners receive an additional $500 award and a plaque.  National finalists also compete for a reward trip to Costa Rica during the summer of 2017. WCFFA proficiency applications advancing to national competition include Weston Hanisch – Wildlife Management, Kyle Vockrodt – Sheep Production, Jordan Lueth – Ag Mechanics Design and Fabrication, Cory Smith – Outdoor Recreation, Alex Klein – Agricultural Processing,  Joseph Hanisch – Poultry Production, and Ellie Krizan – Agricultural Communications.  National finalists will be announced in early August.

Proficiency finalists

State Proficiency Finalists – Matt Dellman, Weston Hanisch, Kyle Vockrodt, Erica Lorang, Jordan Lueth, Ellie Krizan, Cory Smith, Alex Klein, Quinn Hanisch, Braden Pirrung, Benjamin Miles, Ryan Titus.

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Ulrich Advances to National Competition

West Central FFA members celebrated a very successful year and advanced several members to national competition.  Carson Ulrich won the State Job Interview  CDE (Career Development Event) and is currently preparing to compete in the national event in Indianapolis, Indiana in October. CarsonUlrich

Carson Ulrich pictured with Lucas Lentsch – South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture

Participants in the Job Interview CDE submit a resume, complete job applications and participate in mock job interviews with a panel of possible employers.

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State Convention Results

The South Dakota State FFA Convention was held April 12-14, 2015 on the Campus of South Dakota State University.  57 West Central FFA members represented the Chapter in various capacities during the three day event.  Members were engaged in Career Development Events (CDE), Leadership Workshops, attended the Ag Career Carnival, toured the campus, and listened to numerous speakers.

Results from the State FFA Convention Production CDES are as follows:

Ag Mechanics – Dalton Larson – Silver, Jared Miller – Silver
Vet Science – Josh Mettler – Bronze
Livestock – Trey Struck – Bronze
Natural Resources – Austin Ideker – Silver, Benjamin Miles – Gold, Weston Hanisch – 6th place individual – Gold medal, Quinn Hanisch – 3rd place individual – Gold  medal.
Nursery Landscape – Erica Lorang – Bronze, Austin Woodard – Silver, Cory Smith – Silver
Meats – Jordan Lueth – Bronze, Kyle Vockrodt – Silver, Alex Klein – Silver
Dairy Cattle – 9th place individual – Konrad Kontz – Silver medal
Milk Quality and Products – Jill Even – Bronze
Farm Business Management – Rachel Schartz – Bronze, Jared Blume – Bronze, Sara Waldner – Bronze
Food Science – Molly McMahon – Bronze
Horse Evaluation – Blair Lammers – Silver, Lauryn Riepma – Silver

Team placings are as follows:

Vet Science Team – Bronze Award
Ag Business Management – Bronze Award
Nursery Landscape – 5th place, Silver Team Award
Meats Evaluation – 6th place, Silver Team Award
Food Science – 6th place Bronze Team Award
Ag Mechanics – Bronze Team Award
Horse Judging – Silver Team Award
Dairy Cattle – 9th place – Silver Team Award

The Natural Resources team of Quinn Hanisch, Weston Hanisch, Benjamin Miles and Austin Ideker earned a Gold Team Award and placed first in the state event.  They will now represent the state of South Dakota in the National Environment and Natural Resources CDE in October in Louisville, KY along with our Ag Issues and Ag Communications CDE Teams.


Sixteen members earned the State FFA Degree.  The recipients are: Noah Larson, Cody Farmer, Layne Krier, Jared Blume, Dean Knuth, Kylie Hanisch, Tayt Boeckholt, Jacob Anderson, Josh Mettler, Sara Waldner, Amber Weber, Rachel Schartz, Lauren Dolly, Ashlynn Henning, Brighton Edberg, and Taylor Bergeson.  The State Degree is the highest award that can be bestowed upon a member.


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Lennox CDE Results

Congratulations to the following FFA members who competed in the Lennox  CDEs yesterday.

The Ag Business Management team placed 2nd.  Team members Rachel Schartz 4th place, Jared Blume 12th place, Drue Miler 16th place, Lauren Dolly 22nd place.

Food Science Team of Nichole Axelson, Molly McMahon, Emma Habben and Emma Lewis placed 6th.  Nichole placed 15th high individual.

Horse team placed 2nd.  Team members Braden Pirrung, Layne Krier, Blair Lammers, and Lauryn Riepma.  Braden was 2nd place individual, Layne was 14th.

Meats Team placed 2nd Team members Alex Klein, Ryan Titus, Jordan Lueth, and Kyle Vockrodt.  Members placed 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th respectively.

Natural Resources Team placed 1st.  Team members Austin Ideker, Weston Hanisch, Quinn Hanisch, and Benjamin Miles.  Members placed 2nd, 4th, 8th and 13th respectively.

Nursery Landscape Team placed 3rd.  Team members Cory Smith, Erica Lorang, Austin Woodard, and Elijah Hanisch.  Cory placed 9th individual, Erica was 15th.

Teams now advance to the State CDEs April 12-14 during the State FFA Convention.  Winning teams will earn a berth to the national CDE in October.

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Tri Valley CDE Results

Congratulations to the following FFA members who competed in the TriValley CDEs recently.  There were 44 schools competing.

Ag Business Management – first place – Team of Rachel Schartz, Jared Blume, Drue Miller, and Sara Waldner.  Rachel was 5th place individual, Jared and Drue tied for 7th

In Food Science, Emma Habben was 5th place individual.

Horse Judging team placed 3rd.  Team members include Braden Pirrung, Lauryn Riepma, Blair Lammers, and Layne Krier.  Braden placed 7th and Lauryn placed 8th high individuals.

Meats Team placed 4th, team members Kyle Vockrodt, Alex Klein, and Jordan Lueth.  Kyle placed 7th high individual.

Natural Resources Team placed 2nd, team members Weston Hanisch, Quinn Hanisch, Benjamin Miles, and Andrew Jungels  Weston placed 3rd, Quinn placed 4th, Benjamin placed 10th.

Nursery Landscape Team placed 3rd.  Team members Cory Smith, Erica Lorang, Austin Woodard, and Elijah Hanisch.  Cory was 8th place individual.

The last competition prior to state will be March 31st  in Lennox.

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Members Compete at Flandreau CDEs

Sixty plus members of the West Central FFA Chapter traveled to Flandreau to take part in their first preliminary CDE (Career Development Event) of the year.  Competitions ranged from Floriculture to Livestock judging and Milk and Quality Foods to Agronomy.  Each CDE challenges members to apply concepts learned in the classroom to solve real agricultural problems.

Congratulations to the following FFA members who competed in the Flandreau CDEs.

Ag Business Management Team placed fifth.  Team members Jared Blume, Rachel Schartz, Drue Miller and Sara Waldner.

Horse Team placed fifth. Team members Braden Pirrung, Layne Krier, Blair Lammers, and Lauryn Riepma.

Meats Team placed second.  Team members Kyle Vockrodt, Ryan Titus, Alex Klein, and Jordan Lueth.

Natural Resources team placed first.  Team members Weston Hanisch, Benjamin Miles, Matt Dellman, and Quinn Hanisch.

Nursery Landscape team placed fourth.  Team members Cory Smith, Austin Woodard, Erica Lorang, and Eliijah Hanisch.

West Central also fielded teams in Agronomy, Dairy Cattle, Livestock, Vet Science, Floriculture, Food Science, Ag Mechanics, and Milk Quality and Foods.

Members will also compete at the Tri Valley and Lennox CDEs prior to State Convention in April.

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