Nine Shelby FFA members traveled to Billings to attend the 88th annual Montana State FFA Convention.
The convention enables FFA members from across the state to compete in Career Development Event (CDE) competitions, be rewarded for their hard work in their Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE), show off their talents, meet many of the sponsors and supporters, explore careers in agriculture and related trades and celebrate the industry that so desperately needs them in the future.
Nearly 1300 FFA members, supporters, and guests packed into the Billings Convention Center to hear guest speakers and be led by the current State FFA Officer Team. Notable supporters included US Representative Greg Gianforte, US Senator Jon Tester, and countless representatives involved in the agricultural industry. Adding to the list of supporters, the convention was lucky to have the FFA National President, Breanna Holbert of California and the National FFA Advisor, Dr. Steve Brown at the prestigious event.
Shelby FFA members competed in multiple CDEs vying for the top position in each event. In order to participate at the state level, teams and individuals must qualify. In order to qualify, they must first compete at a district qualifying event and place at the event. The Shelby FFA did just that. Karra Lohr qualified by placing 2nd in the Senior Prepared Public Speaking CDE with her speech titled, “The Effects of Stress on Livestock and Meat Quality Before and During Slaughter”, a topic she is very passionate about. The Agricultural Technology and Mechanical Systems team placed 3rd in the Glacier District and the Farm Business Management team placed 2nd. In order for the Livestock Judging team to qualify, they had to participate in multiple events throughout the year. Haylee Nieman, the chapter’s Historian, compiled our FFA scrapbook for the first time since 1992 and entered it into the scrapbook judging competition.
At one point during the convention, the FFA and Montana National Guard recognized those that have served and those that plan on serving. Brenden Clark-Smith, the chapter’s Student Advisor got on stage and announced his plan to become a United States Marine. It was a proud moment for the chapter and for Brenden.
After three days of competition by the teams, the results were in. The Agricultural Technology and Mechanical Systems team consisting of Jonathan Henke, Ethan Schwenke, Brenden Clark-Smith and Curtis Conant placed 14th out of 72 teams. Jonathan Henke was the highest individual for Shelby placing 30th out of 267 participants. The Farm Business Management team consisting of Jonathan Henke, Curtis Conant, Dillon Luly and Karra Lohr placed 15th out of 64 teams. Jonathan Henke was once again the highest placing individual for Shelby placing 19th out of 246 participants. The Livestock Judging team consisting of Haylee Nieman, Justin Nieman, and Alex Stratton received an honorable mention for their efforts. Karra Lohr delivered her speech on the first day of competition but did not make it to the final four. To Karra’s credit, she placed 2nd at the district level to an FFA member from Choteau, Caroline Roeder, who eventually won top honors in the event at the state convention. The chapter’s scrapbook was judged but did not place in the top three.
The accolades continued in a pinnacle event; two of Shelby’s finest, Jonathan Henke and Ethan Schwenke, received their Montana State FFA Degrees at the state convention. They were recognized by the National FFA President and received by the National Advisor at a banquet held in conjunction with the state convention. Only a select few every year receive this prestigious recognition. In order to attain the degree, the students must meet the following qualifications: earned their Greenhand and Chapter degrees, maintain a 2.0 GPA, worked 300 hours or earned/invested $1000 into their SAE, donate 25 community service hours, participate in a public speaking activity and participate in five or more events above the chapter level. After high school, Ethan will be attending the Universal Technical Institute in Phoenix, Arizona to obtain a degree in Automotive Engineering specializing in General Motors products. Jonathan plans on attending the Montana State University in Bozeman majoring in engineering with an emphasis in business.
The process of preparing for and competing in many events throughout the year is part of the leadership building process. FFA not only supports and celebrates agriculture, it gives students the opportunity to network with others that have similar interests. There is something for everyone in FFA and our kids take full advantage of the opportunities that exist.
Advisor Thad White stated, “I am extremely proud of how well our kids ended up. They are great representatives of our chapter and school when we attend these events. Our upperclassmen have matured into leadership roles and will be positive contributors to our society. Creating good human beings and employable kids with a good work ethic is my number one priority at SHS. I believe we are on the right track.”
The Shelby FFA plans on finishing the year strong. They will have a Chicken BBQ on Tuesday, April 17, from 4-6 PM at the ag shop. Tickets are $10 and should be purchased in advance from any FFA member. A limited amount of extra dinners will be sold on the day of the event. Other future activities include: the FFA Banquet, the Montana Envirothon, Montana Range Days, MSU-Northern’s TekNoXpo, a spring plant sale and summer fairs.