WAUKESHA, Wis. — The 43rd annual convention of the Wisconsin FFA Alumni & Supporters organization was held Feb. 3-4, 2023, at the Milwaukee Marriott West hotel and convention center in Waukesha. The theme of the convention, “Where We Need to Be in 2023,” focused on the four major roles of FFA Alumni membership: Advocate, Donor, Mentor and Volunteer.
About 280 FFA Alumni members and guests from across the state of Wisconsin attended this year’s event. The convention kicked off Friday afternoon with a state council meeting followed by Friday tours of American Family Field and the Mitchell Park Domes, a Friday evening dinner buffet and auction, and entertainment by singer/songwriter Tim O’Grady, Jr.
Saturday included business meetings, workshops and discussion of the 4 major roles noted above. Members heard from the various leaders of the other organizations, whom are part of Team Ag Ed, and were presented the annual financial report and budget during the annual business meeting. The election for Vice President was also conducted and Nick Lowe of the Stoughton FFA Alumni & Supporters chapter was elected. The remaining executive team was also forwarded to their new positions, electing Bobbie Jo Montgomery of Waupaca the new President, Grant Staszak from Bonduel as President-Elect and Terri Wilfert from Mishicot as, Past-President. There were a few bylaws changed adopted at the meeting and 5 different resolutions passed.
The 2022-23 Wisconsin FFA Officer Team played a vital role in the operation of the convention. They helped with section meeting delegate registration, auctions, business meeting and election processes and they presented a very moving reflections program. They also conducted two workshops, one on social media and the other on building leaders in the Alumni organization. The 2022-23 team was also recognized for all being lifetime members, of both the state and National FFA Alumni & Supporters and last year’s 2021-22 team was honored for being named a 100% State Lifetime Team at the national convention this past fall.
The annual awards banquet program included the retirement address of state association President Terri Wilfert, and the recognition of numerous award winners. The list of those recognized includes:
Several teachers were honored with Outstanding Agriculture Educator Awards, earning a cash prize. These included Jeanna Burgan of Chippewa Falls, Dan Robinson from Lomira, Sandra Dykes from Weyauwega-Fremont and Mariah Markhardt, Walter Taylor and Hallie Kopczynski all of Oconto Falls. Mary Handrich teacher from Denmark, was named the state winning educator.
Derrick Papcke from Elkhorn was presented the Outstanding Young Member Award for his exceptional leadership.
The Public Relations award recognizes the efforts of a chapter to promote their activities and mission, utilizing various forms of media. Granton FFA Alumni & Supporters was chosen as the state winner. Stoughton received second place and Elkhorn received third place honors.
Weyauwega-Fremont FFA Alumni & Supporters was named the Outstanding State Chapter in the small division. Winning the large division was the Waupaca FFA Alumni & Supporters.
Stoughton, Denmark, Elkhorn and Granton FFA Alumni & Supporters chapters all received gold ratings in the National Outstanding Chapter Awards and will have their applications submitted to the national level of competition. Elkhorn FFA Alumni & Supporters was also recognized as the overall winner in this area.
Outstanding Achievement awards were presented to Steve Vogel of Denmark and Wayne Ace of Oregon. Both gentlemen will be advancing to National competition.
The Dr. V.O. and Ann Martinson Award is given to the FFA Alumni who had the greatest increase in lifetime members. Denmark FFA Alumni & Supporters is this year’s recipient.
Roger Nitschke of Granton was presented the Team Ag Ed Contributor individual award and Schultz Trucking of Denmark was presented the Team Ag Ed Contributor Business award for their service, support and commitment to FFA, FFA Alumni and Agriculture Education.
Retiring council members were recognized. They are Nick Lowe from Stoughton, Bobbi Jo Kunz from Waupun, Mike Sabel from Auburndale, Amy Voigt from Lakeside Lutheran and Rudy Kaderly from Juda.
The 2023-2024 council section representatives were also introduced and they were installed into their position. They are:
- Section 1 – Dave Clausen, Amery & Jerry Larsen, Luck
- Section 2 – David Meyer, Hudson
- Section 3 – Derek Trescher & Chris Blank both from Cashton
- Section 4 – Rick Bockhop, Platteville & Nick Huffman, Hollandale
- Section 5 – Dan Ziegler, New Glarus
- Section 6 – Matt Damm, Columbus & Brooke Woodbury, Baraboo
- Section 7 – William Litzer, Edgar & Mason Gukenberger, Marshfield
- Section 8 – Renee Lehman, Waupaca
- Section 9 – Nicole Wallander, Kiel & Missy Steffes, New Holstein
- Section 10 – Gene Hetebrueg, Kewaskum & Jim Schneider, Campbellsport
Another auction Saturday night, as well as raffles during the weekend, resulted in a very successful fundraising program. Convention proceeds help support leadership development and educational programs and activities for FFA members throughout the state.
Next year’s convention has been set for February 9-10, 2024 in Oshkosh.
— Wisconsin FFA Alumni & Supporters Association