Contests and Awards at the Minnesota FFA Convention

SAINT PAUL — (April 24, 2017) FFA members began the second day of the Minnesota FFA Convention with contests, workshops and sessions at the University of Minnesota (UMN). 3,603 members had the opportunity to compete in Career Development Events (CDE) and attend leadership workshops on the UMN-St. Paul campus. Following the CDEs and workshops, members gathered at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis for the annual award ceremony.

Session Speakers

“When we seek out opportunities by uniting, we can start a revolution,” said Joe Ramstad State Sentinel, Joe Ramstad from the Forest Lake FFA Chapter, delivered during his retiring address, “jOURney”. United States Senator Al Franken provided remarks to session one attendees regarding the future of agriculture. Stating he looks forward to addressing the challenges in agriculture with you.

Mr. William Nelson, retired CHS Foundation executive director, received the National FFA VIP award during session one.“There are countless opportunities teaching or being involved in vocational agriculture,” said Nelson.  Nelson originally received this award at the 2016 National FFA Convention and Expo but was unable to attend.

“It is great to work in agriculture; a field that encourages people to grow, produce and provide food for others,” said Ms. Pakou Hang, co-founder of the Hmong American Farmers Association. As the keynote speaker at session two, Hang shared brief stories about Hmong farmers and their investment towards Minnesota agriculture.

State Treasurer, Clay Newton from the Lakeview FFA Chapter, delivered his retiring address, “Don’t Let Go”. Newton shared personal stories about growing up with cattle and traveling to South Africa.

“If we learn from mistakes and overcome any failure, we will make our dream a reality that we love,” he said.

Commissioner of Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Dave Fredrickson, welcomed attendees of the Annual Awards Ceremony. Commissioner Fredrickson stated he is “All In” to work with Minnesota FFA members, reminding them they have an important role in shaping the future of agriculture.

“You and I each own a road less traveled,” said State Reporter, Rebekka Paskewitz from the Staples Motley FFA Chapter. “The only way your road will ever be traveled, is if you choose to take it.” Paskewitz’s retiring address, “BeYOUtiful” gave an insight on her life and encourages members to proceed in any situation with a three step process: clear, elevate and build.


The following are the recipients of Proficiency Awards: 

Proficiency Award Area

Top Individuals



Agricultural Communications

Rebekka Paskewitz

Staples Motley

The Farmer

Agricultural Education

Harley Braun

Sleepy Eye

Jim Ertl Endowment

Agricultural Mechanics Fabrication and Design

Colton Ziegler

Maple River

John Deere Company

Agricultural Mechanics Repair and

Maintenance Entrepreneurship

Michael Kanne


Charles & Barb Melberg

Agricultural Mechanics Repair and Maintenance Placement

Alex Warmka

United South Central

MN SD Equipment Association

Agricultural Processing

Abby Hopp


CHS Foundation

Agricultural Sales Entrepreneurship

Ashley Hanson


West Central, Inc.

Agricultural Sales Placement

Joelle Edwards


McDonald’s Twin Cities Co-op

Agricultural Services

Jordan Stahl

Martin County West

Rosen’s Diversified

Agriscience Research- Animal Systems

Heoneia Anufriev

Fertile Beltrami

Hormel Foods

Agriscience Research- Integrated Systems

Gunnar Frahm

Silver Bay

Minnesota Grain and Feed Association

Beef Production Entrepreneurship

Abby Penzenstadler

Chisago Lakes

Greg, Karen and Nick Gosen

Beef Production Placement

Katherine Moller


MN Veterinary Medical Foundation

Dairy Production Entrepreneurship

Isabella Portner

Sleepy Eye

MInnesota Select Sires Co-op

Dairy Production Placement

Dillon Gratz

Atwater Cosmos Grove City

Midwest Dairy Association

Diversified Agricultural Production

Jacob Ebeling

Martin County West

Minnesota Biofuels Association

Diversified Crop Production Entrepreneurship

Corey Ehlert

United South Central

CF Industries

Diversified Crop Production Placement

Brayden Schultz

United South Central


Diversified Horticulture

Josh Hengel

Maple River

AgStar Financial Services

Diversified Livestock Production

Derek Krieger

Kerkhoven Murdock Sunburg

MN Veterinary Medical Foundation

Environmental Science & Natural Resources Management

Daniel Williamson

Atwater Cosmos Grove City

Great River Energy

Equine Science Entrepreneurship

Eleora DeMuth

Grand Rapids

Zinpro Corporation

Equine Science Placement

Jackilyn Thayer


Central Farm Service

Fiber and/or Oil Crop Production

Hunter Petersen

Kerkhoven Murdock Sunburg

Minnesota Soybean Council

Food Science & Technology

Katie Krieger

Kerkhoven Murdock Sunburg

Midwest Dairy Association

Forage Production

Matthew Bauer

Kenyon Wanamingo

DuPont Pioneer

Forest Management and Products

Laura Shepersky


Vermeer Sales and Service

Fruit Production

Brandi Platz



Goat Production

Meghan Beckendorf

Renville County West


Grain Production Entrepreneurship

Cayden Buysse


Minnesota Corn Growers Association

Grain Production Placement

Matthew Collins

Kerkhoven Murdock Sunburg

DuPont Pioneer

Home and/or Community Development

Cassidy Hoffmann

Sleepy Eye


Landscape Management

Leah Meyer

United South Central

Wells Fargo

Outdoor Recreation

Camryn Larson

Fertile Beltrami

Johnson Outdoors

Poultry Production

Holly Larson


Minnesota Turkey Council

Sheep Production

Brady Carter


Dr. Curt Youngs

Small Animal Production and Care

Jazlyn Meyer


MN Veterinary Medical Foundation

Specialty Animal Production

Kayla Kutzke

Atwater Cosmos Grove City


Specialty Crop Production

Nick Wolleat

United South Central

Peterson Farms

Swine Production Entrepreneurship

Madeline Patterson

Kenyon Wanamingo

Christensen Farms

Swine Production Placement

Trent Stevermer

United South Central

Christensen Farms

Turf Grass Management

Dominic Nistler

Staples Motley

Northland Ford Dealers

Vegetable Production

Madeline Weninger

Howard Lake Waverly Winsted

United FCS

Veterinary Science

Rachel Ramacher


MN Veterinary Medical Foundation

Wildlife Management

Ryan Benson

Fertile Beltrami

George and Mary Peichel


Stars Over Minnesota
The Star Farmer award and Stars in Production Placement, Agribusiness and Agri-Science indicates students’ commitment to their Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) throughout the course of previous years. These projects, in conjunction with agriculture education courses, help increase student knowledge of agriculture. The Stars over Minnesota awards are sponsored by AgStar Financial Services.

Star in Production Placement

Samuel Moenning

Triton FFA

Star in Agribusiness

Logan Schoon

Meneahga FFA

Star in Agri-Science

Brandon Kasprick

Thief River Falls FFA

Star Farmer

Karla Nelson

Pipestone Area FFA


Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame
The Minnesota FFA Alumni Association recognized seven inductees to the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame. These inductees join more than 180 members that have been inducted into the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame in the past 13 years. The FFA Hall of Fame is a collaborative effort between the Minnesota FFA Association, Alumni and Foundation.

The 2017 Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame inductees include: Paul Aarsvold (Plainview Elgin Millville), Dave Frederickson (Minnesota Department of Agriculture commissioner), Blaine Larson (retired Battle Lake High School), Jurgen Peters (retired Waseca High School), Doug Peterson (retired Minnesota Farmers Union president), Christa Williamson (Kerkhoven Murdock Sunberg) and Al Withers (Retired Minnesota Ag in the Classroom).

Honorary State FFA Degree

Twenty-two outstanding teachers and business professionals received honorary degrees from the Minnesota FFA Association. These recipients demonstrate success and support of FFA and agricultural education. Each year, the Minnesota FFA Association recognizes the contributions of those who have made a significant impact towards the success of the membership and the organization. Many of these individuals have served in numerous leadership roles through career development events, the state officer team, the foundation or alumni events.

The 2017 recipients of the Honorary Minnesota FFA Degree are: Chad Giblin (University of Minnesota), Greg Harder (Minnesota State Fair) Steve Hinrichs (Plainview Elgin Millville), Tracy Huhn (Eden Valley Watkins), Sara Jensen (University of Minnesota), Jean Johnson (Minnesota FFA Foundation – Grand Forks ND), Patrick Kearney (Nicollet), Duane Lichy (Albany), Julie Mellum (Chisago Lakes), Dr. Sally Noll (University of Minnesota), Dale Nordquist (University of Minnesota), Arne Rauvola (Cannon Falls), Bob Rick (Central Lakes College), Dr. Eli Sagor (University of Minnesota), Abbie Savage (Ada Borup), Glen Schmidt (Minnesota Farmers Union – St. Paul), Jason Schwantz (Minnesota FFA Foundation), Dr. Rebecca Swenson (University of Minnesota), Katy Westrom (Maple Grove), Stephanie Wolhuter (Martin County West), Matt Wolle (MAELC), and Dr. David Wright (Buffalo).


State FFA Degree

341 Minnesota FFA members received the State FFA Degree at the 88th Minnesota FFA Awards Ceremony. To be eligible for the State FFA Degree, members must earn and invest at least $2,000 of his or her effort into their Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE). Candidates must complete a minimum of two years of classroom instruction in an agricultural, food and natural resources education program. The list of recipients by region and chapter can be viewed at


About Minnesota FFA

The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. More than 25,000 students in Minnesota are enrolled in agricultural education classes. Students who have taken three or more classes in career and technical education, including agricultural education have a graduation rate of 98.7 percent. Visit for more information. Follow the Minnesota FFA Convention on social media or watch the general sessions or awards ceremony at 



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