The Midland FFA currently has 98 members who have worked diligently throughout the 2022-2023 school year on varying projects and events.
The Midland FFA has many opportunities and activities for our members to pursue including competitions, volunteering, as well as some purely for fun. Throughout the spring and summer of 2022, our members, numbering 45 in total, competed in many career development events, which allowed them to learn skills in a field of their choice. Ranging from floriculture and nursery landscape to ag mechanics. Our floriculture team was spearheaded by the participation of Hannah Fishwild, who placed first individually at districts and ninth at the state competition allowing the team to place fifth. Floriculture is based mainly on flowers, their arrangements, and identification while nursery landscape focuses on the maintenance and design of the landscape. Ag mechanics follows some of the skills that most agriculturists of our day use frequently. In this division, our team placed fifth also having the champion individual in Justin Agnitsch. Food science made and experimented with a muffin recipe and placed well with a second-place in product development. On the animal side of the spectrum, veterinary science had the champion written scenario and was the reserve champion. Our horse teams also performed to their peak potential landing a second at state as well with Karley Schaefer leading the team with a second individual. The summer was home to numerous fairs where our members showed their livestock and poultry and other things such as photography and even participation in the State Fair Queen competition.
While the summer is largely consumed by our members, it is also time for the Midland FFA officers to plan and welcome any new team members. For several days in June, our officers went on a retreat full of fun yet serious activities allowing the team to bond and grow accustomed to one another. Several of our officers went to the Northeast Chapter Officer Leadership Training, or COLT for short. Here, new officers learn what their position means and the duties that come with it. Older more experienced officers can also improve their game during the training.
When the school year draws nearer, we as a chapter try to start the year off with fun activities. Our annual Back to School Bonfire is one of these events and allows members to get to know the officers and have a little fun before the new school year starts. With these events, we try to get everyone excited for the next FFA school year. In October, eight lower classmen had the opportunity to practice the art of Livestock Judging at Kirkwood with their team finishing third. To further boost the participation of our younger members and bring something new to the table, the Midland FFA and the Monticello FFA cooperated to bring a new world to their members through M+M Ag Explore Day. There were stations such as floriculture, tractor driving and professional handshakes, to the judging and tasting of different foods. The event allowed the two schools to bring industry experts to the table to share careers in agriculture with our beginning ag students. It was also our year to educate some of the elementary kids in our district around farm safety, particularly safety around different types of equipment including PTOs, lawn maintenance devices, as well as chemical and gun safety.
Our chapter not only promotes participation in competitions and other fun stuff, but it gives back to our community. One of our biggest volunteering events is centered around feeding our local farmers. This year, 150 meals were made and delivered to the busy farmers during their harvest season. As a chapter, a two-mile portion of the ditches along Highway 64 are cleaned twice a year to make the community look better.
This year, we didn’t have any competitors on the national stage. That didn’t, however, prevent us from going, having fun, learning new things and most importantly cheering for Kole Michaud and Kirstin Schaefer, who had been granted the highest degree an FFA member can receive known as the American degree through their hard work and dedication.
Speaking of degrees, our fall degree banquet is used to honor the members among us who have gained their degrees. There are three degrees that the Midland FFA can bestow: the discovery degree, greenhand degree and chapter degrees. Recently, our chapter has allowed for members of the eighth grade to join and participate in our numerous activities. They receive the discovery degree, while older members who are just starting in their high school FFA careers receive the greenhand degree. The highest honor that the Midland FFA can give is the chapter degree, often given to second-year high school members. The 2022 degree banquet honored 24 discovery, 27 greenhand and 23 chapter degrees.
To fund many of these ventures throughout the year and the holiday season, our chapter makes and sells wreaths. This is usually one of our biggest fundraisers where we sold excess of 200 wreaths this year. We also help set up the iconic Christmas lights of Wyoming during Christmas City. Santa is one of the biggest attractions to the children of the region, and to keep them entertained while waiting in the busy line, we set up several stations ranging from coloring to crafts or even games such as Pin the Heart on the Grinch.
The future of the Midland FFA seems bright as we enter another round of competitions and honors. The state degree is the highest degree that our great state of Iowa can give, and five of our members will soon be receiving this award for their hard work and dedication. Logan Bicknese, Hannah Fishwild, Gracie Franzen, Karley Schaefer and Jayda Thomsen all received their state degrees. A few of our seniors have earned their proficiencies through their consistency and dedication to their own personalized SAE or supervised agricultural experience. Jayda Thomsen received hers through her food processing SAE, while Hannah Fishwild’s was based on beef entrepreneurship and Karley Schaefers was in equine placement.
Coming up soon on the agenda for this year is some completely different breeds of competitions from the late spring and summer. We have the privilege of hosting sub-districts this year before the best of the teams move to districts and finally state convention. Some of the teams we have competing this year are ag issues, experience the action, parliamentary procedure, conduct of meeting, creed speaking, poultry, ag communications, ag marketing, and our two eighth grade competitions of ag impact and ag CSI. The choices you make now make the biggest difference in your life down the road, don’t crash along the way.