Future Farmers of America makes a comeback at Moorhead High

Eight members of the new Moorhead FFA chapter received its charter at the Minnesota FFA Convention April 21. (Back row, from left) Owen Borud, Ethan Hilden, Hayden Stulz, and Hayden Larson. (Front row) Advisor John Schmidt, Bridger Mongeau, Jeffrey Muehler, Croix Mongeau, and Beau Hoherz. (Photo/MNFFA.)Nancy Edmonds Hanson

After 43 years without a local presence, Future Farmers of America is officially back at Moorhead High School.
Eight student members and advisor John Schmidt were presented with the club’s charter at the state organization’s convention at the University of Minnesota and State Fairgrounds, ending a long absence from the local campus. It was one of five new chapters returning to schools around the state. They were among more than 6,000 students from all over the state who attended the convention April 21-23.
Advisor Schmidt, who teaches the four ag classes taught this year at the MHS Career Academy, reports that the moment the local group was presented with its charter was “amazing.” As part of the ceremony during the first convention local members attended, they were presented with a boxful of the regalia and documents that signal membership – jackets bearing a big FFA logo, placards and display materials.
The box of official materials was delivered by Steve Olson of Moorhead, perhaps the chapter’s most enthusiastic booster. He was a member of the original MHS chapter in the final days in 1981, when it was disbanded after Moorhead High lost its long-time ag teacher and thus stopped offering agriculture classes. According to Schmidt, “Steve lobbied hard back then when he was a student to keep the chapter going, but it was dropped anyway. Now, he has been a terrific mentor for our students in getting FFA going again.”
According to Future Farmers rules, student members must be enrolled in a class taught by a licensed agriculture teacher to be eligible for membership. That groundwork was laid when Schmidt joined the Career Academy in late August 2022. At the time, he listed reviving the chapter as one of his main goals. Initial meetings were held during that school year.
When regular weekly sessions began last September, he says, interest was much stronger. He credits potential members’ heightened enthusiasm to the strong enrollment in the four classes he is teaching for the second year. A total of 114 are enrolled across two sessions of Introduction to Agricultural Construction and one each of Advanced Ag Construction and Introduction to Agriculture. He notes that male students dominate in the construction classes, but females make up the majority inf Intro to Ag: “Overall, our enrollment is about one-third female and two-thirds men.”
Schmidt says his students come from a variety of backgrounds. Some have grown up on Clay County farms, many with experience in 4-H. Others have come along with friends. Their interests, too, may involve natural resources, crops, livestock or various kinds entrepreneurship, from growing flowers to selling objects they manufacture.
“We had more than 20 at our first meetings,” he reports. “It’s way bigger than last year. It was a challenge to recruit enough kids to run for the offices the first time. This year, we even had competition.” Current officers include president Bridger Mongeau, vice president Jeff Muehler, secretary Hayden Stulz,treasurer Hayden Larson, and sentinel (greeter) Ethan Hilden.
As a chartered chapter of FFA, the new local group will participate in a broad-based program that reaches beyond crops, livestock, natural resources and soils to the many careers that spring from the same roots – from agriculture broadcasters, grain buyers and marketing specialists to agriculture educators, crop and animal scientists, ag pilots (aerial applicators) and digital farming specialists.
The organization also offers strong opportunities to develop leadership and public speaking skills. Members can compete in knowledge-based contests at the local, regional, state and national levels. “It’s a real resumé builder,” the teacher notes. “You can develop your own resumé relating to the career field that interests you. So many industries network at the FFA conventions and competitions.
“FFA is a great way to get a better idea of what you will do after graduating and to prepare for it.”

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