FFA members bask in honors from nationals

FFA members bask in

honors from nationals

Ray Scherer

It's a very proud moment for the Hermann Future Farmers of America, which recently returned from Indianapolis, Indiana, with two national plaques in tow for special achievements.

The members and one of the programs teachers, Doug Ridder, told the Advertiser-Courier about the honors: second in agricultural mechanics and technical systems and sixth in farm and agribusiness management. Those finishes -- at the 94th Annual National FFA Convention -- followed first-place accomplishments for both teams in their specialties at the state level. Matt Lampkin, a member of the ag mechanics and technical systems team, placed first in the nation in that field.

The ag mechanics and technical systems team was comprised of Lampkin, Lance Bader, Brady Vedder, and Chantz Koelling. The farm and agribusiness management team was composed of Alli Boedges, Samantha Boedges, Lucas Eldringhoff, and Ben Engemann.

Ridder said the competition was divided into in-person and virtual modes, with the preliminary round held virtually and with the top placing teams competing in person.

The farm management team members said they didn't really believe their good fortune. Samantha Boedges said the team won by just seven points, with events held in career development. There were 23 other teams competing in farm management at the state level, with 21 teams involved in the state-level ag mechanics contest.

Farm management teams had to demonstrate written knowledge individually before competing together as a group to show their analysis of business records and profit and loss, along with improving business plans.

"We studied a lot," said Boedges, adding the team was "nervous" at the national event. "We were really just excited," said her younger sister, Alli.

Koelling said the ag mechanics team was impressed by the preparation of the other schools, and that Hermann regarded itself as the underdog -- yet still possessing a chance for greatness. Those competitors hailed from such states as Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Idaho.

The ag mechanics members had a written component and had to exhibit their proficiency in such areas as electrical wiring, small gas engines, welding/fabrication, hydraulics, environmental resource systems, and ag structures and buildings. There was also a problem-solving component to the program. 

Of what the winning might mean long term, Samantha Boedges said scholarships could be in the offing. Alli said the victory could help the team make decisions about their futures.

"I liked seeing all the people," she said.

Eldringhoff said Hermann's performance actually translates into a sort of ability to have bragging rights.

"This will set a whole new standard, going forward," said Ridder.

"We thought it was pretty cool to be Number One in the state," said Koelling.

Vedder called the contest a good learning experience that involved highly competitive schools, and said the intense studying paid off, along with "hard work and determination".

He and the ag mechanics team have the ability to do minor repairs, and believe they have better definitions for their chosen careers. For example, Vedder said he's learning to be a heavy equipment technician.

Lampkin also said the nationals were a good experience, and noted the team felt it had a good chance at success due to winning at state.

"It kind of helped open up (career opportunities)," he said. "Employers will come after you."

Bader said learning utilities work has been valuable for his career pursuit, based on the practical experiences he had with the team in such areas as electricity and fabrication.

"It's a great time," he said of the competition.