FFA ‘exceptional year’

On Thursday, Wapakoneta FFA members and parents, numbering more than 400, honored Wapakoneta High School students  involved in the agricultural program at the high school during the organization’s annual banquet.

Wapakoneta FFA advisers Ron Brown and Chris Turner handed out awards in a number of different categories.

“This was an exceptional year,” Brown said. “I can remember when I first started, we had 32 people in FFA. This year, we are graduating 34 seniors alone. It shows the program is growing.”

Wapakoneta FFA President Joe Schneider, who is a senior at the high school, said he had enjoyed his experience with the organization.

“It has been a crazy four years,” Schneider said. “I thank you so much for the opportunity to do it all. This was a team effort and I couldn’t have done it without all of you. It was an amazing life experience I will never forget that had a large impact on my life.”

Schneider will be handing the reins of the program to Collin Schneider, who was announced as the new president as officers were named for the new year. Collin Schneider was unaware of his position until Thursday night.

“We will have a lot to work because we don’t have quite as big of a class as this year’s seniors did,” Collin Schneider said. “We will work on all the little things because that leads to bigger things. We will try and get everyone involved.”

Former National FFA President Levy Randolph, who hails from California and served as the guest speaker, talked to the FFA members and their parents about having dreams.

“Dreams are very, very important,” Randolph said. “When you were in kindergarten and someone would ask that question, you would get some crazy answers. Along the way, you start losing some of them and start going with the flow.”

Randolph said when he was in high school, for several weeks he pretended he was going to basketball practice, although he was really participating in FFA, a move that wasn’t accepted well at first by a family rich in athletic accomplishments.

“You get the most out of what you do when you start sharing your dreams with others,” Randolph said. “You truly start to share your passion for what you do when those around you start to see what you are getting out of it.”

Nate Hager and Johnny Zwiebel received the “Star Chapter Farmer” award, while Nicole Brown earned the “Star Agri-Business Person of the Year.” Joe Schneider earned the Blue and Gold Award, given to an FFA member who does extra things to represent the Wapakoneta FFA.

State degree recipeints included Collin Schneider, Aprille Stienke, Kerri Miller, Joe Schneider, Austin Fisher, Ryan O’Neill and Slade Oen. Drew Davis and Nick Fisher were American Degree winners. Several members placed high in district competition with two waiting to hear their placement as they were in the top four in the state.

Nate Hager placed in the top four in the state in Fiber and Oil Entrepreneurship category by producing 45 acres of soybeans. He also placed in the top four in grain production entrepreneurship in managing, planting, scouting, harvesting, and marketing 66.85 acres of corn and wheat.

Nicole Brown also placed in the top four for swine production entrepreneurship by taking care of a 21 sow herd, including maintaining, feeding, vaccinating, processing, selecting and exhibiting the offspring of the herd.