New Goodhue FFA Alumni Chapter Supports Busy Organization


The newly formed Goodhue FFA Alumni chapter held its first meeting and elected an officer team on November 21, 2023. This newly organized chapter, initiated by FFA advisor, Angela Nassif and the current officer team, is part of Minnesota FFA’s goal to organize support groups for Ag teachers and advisors. While it is a state and national requirement for students to be enrolled in an Ag class in order to be an FFA member, there is no requirement or previous FFA experience needed to join the alumni chapter.

Previously, the letters “FFA” stood for Future Farmers of America, but realizing that agriculture encompasses so much beyond production farming—including natural resources, science, communication, business, leadership, entrepreneurship, education, and more—the official name of the organization is now simply the National FFA Organization. The National FFA Organization says it is committed to the individual student, providing a path to achievement through education and hands-on experiences.

The Goodhue FFA chapter has grown from 42 members in 2019 to 98 members on the current roster. An increase in class sizes is a contributing factor but growth has also come from utilizing social media, promoting the organization and offering more opportunities. Nassif is in her third year of teaching in Goodhue and often reminds her students, “This chapter is what you make it”. She says she sees so much energy among the members, with most even showing up to early morning monthly meetings to plan events throughout the year. 9 Members attended the 2023 National FFA convention, where the chapter was recognized as a 2-Star National Chapter for their outstanding participation and events in the past year. Their goal for the 2024 national convention is to achieve a top ten placement and a gold ranking. They are on the way to reaching that goal after being named a top 20 Superior Chapter at this year’s Minnesota state convention and earning gold in the National Chapter competition, allowing them to move on to the National competition this Fall.

35 Goodhue FFA members recently returned from 3 very successful days at the Minnesota FFA convention. Goodhue received a Top Ten Chapter Award in Agricultural Literacy and gold placings by Lillian Von Knoblesdorf in the Horse project and the Livestock Evaluation team of Jaclyn Jenson, Caden Lodermeier, Hazel Volkmann and Laura Brinkman who placed 13th overall. Earning silver placings were the Floriculture team of Summer Scheele, Kyla Nardinger, Lillian Raasch, and Isabel German-Hutter along with Haley Betcher in creed speaking. Also earning silver was the Best Informed Greenhand team of Erin Beck, Maya Roschen, Hailey Dankers and Nathan Ballman. Leisel Vesieth earned bronze in Dairy Cattle Evaluation as did the Nursery and Landscape team of Taylor Thomforde, Greta Sloan, and Aubriel O’Reilly. The Milk Quality team of Sophia Huneke, Hannah O’Neill, Alyssa Luhman and Kailyn Pawlenty and the Fish and Wildlife team of Henry Ludwig, Sam Tipton, Micheal Roschen and Luke Roschen also attained bronze awards.

7 Goodhue members received their state degrees, the second highest award in the FFA organization. Those recipients were: Caden Lodermeier, Hannah O’Neill, Alyssa Luhman, Jenna O’Reilly, Jessica Hinsch, Jaclyn Jenson, and Sophia Huneke.

Students begin their journey to the state convention by choosing to participate in any number of career development programs that focus on specific areas of interest and then work toward earning that trip. These programs build on what is taught in the classroom and competitions that advance winners to the next level. Locally, there is a lot of interest in livestock evaluation events, as well as dairy, crop, and plant sciences. The plant science class operates the school’s greenhouse where they start seedlings in February and hold a plant sale in May. The plant sale has been extremely popular, selling out in just two hours in 2023. The plant sale, annual fruit sale and other fund-raising activities pay for chapter dues and allow participation in other events and trips.

Many FFA activities happen during school days because they are part of an integrated curriculum that Nassif describes as “gaining real life skills”. Ag Day is a popular event that promotes agriculture within the entire Goodhue school district from preschool to seniors. The younger students learn about the different animal species and basic farm safety. Upper grades can participate in workshops covering things such as livestock judging, and a career fair that includes trades like construction. The day also includes everyones’ favorite, “drive your tractor to school” parade. The new alumni chapter was on hand during the April 12th event to offer information on the organization and help with whatever was needed to make things run smoothly.

A mock crash simulation also ran successfully in April. This event works with local emergency services and enlists student actors to play roles in different traffic crash scenarios. FFA members pushed to host this safety reminder before prom, hoping it will leave an impact on students. (See related article.)

Having such an active chapter with diverse interests and activities requires a lot of time and knowledge. FFA advisors and members all across the country rely on volunteers and community support to help students by sharing gifts of time, talent and resources in order to give teachers more time and freedom to do what they do best – teach students. It is the vision of the Minnesota FFA Alumni and Supporters group to have an active and engaged FFA Alumni Chapter to help each local school chapter. The mission of Alumni chapters is to promote Agriculture Education and FFA in an environment where people and communities can develop their potential for leadership, personal growth and career success. Nassif concurs that starting an Alumni chapter is “All about connections—connections to the community”. She sees the need to “Continue to educate people on what we do, [and support] what we’re doing here”.

The alumni chapter will help local FFA members acquire more knowledge and experience and enhance what agriculture education already offers. Alumni members can assist the chapter with things like fund-raising, offering leadership opportunities, convention planning, and being a resource for special interests. A student who wishes to work with farmers with disabilities, or one interested in practicing law as it pertains to agriculture, may find a mentor among the alumni group. These are ways the added input and support of an alumni chapter can enhance students’ skills and make a positive difference for Minnesota agriculture.

The Goodhue Alumni Chapter supports the local student chapter but is its own entity. There was a good turnout for the charter meeting with Brian Sather representing the state Alumni association and Lorin Pohlman from the Kenyon-Wanamingo Alumni chapter on hand to help get the group organized. Those attending elected Josie Jenson, President; Ed McNamara, Vice President; Derek Stehr, Secretary; Jill Dicke, Treasurer; and Jared Brinkman, Member At Large. The group has been busy setting up the chapter, raising funds and planning events. The next meeting is being planned for June. Adult membership is open to anyone who is interested in supporting and promoting agriculture, agricultural education, and FFA at the local, state and national level. Check the Goodhue FFA Facebook page for updates or contact Josie Jenson at 651-764-0193 or