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UW-River Falls students attend national convention

November 13, 2021

After a virtual convention in 2020, many eager UWRF students were excited to travel to Indianapolis, Indiana once again for the annual convention and expo. The event brought in over 60,000 FFA members, guests, and alumni and supporter members. UWRF students were not only accepting awards, receiving their American FFA Degree, and volunteering, but the UWRF Agricultural Education Society and Alpha Tau Alpha (ATA) competed and recruited potential students.

UWRF students spoke with countless FFA members about the campus community. Professor of Agricultural Education, Tim Buttles, said “The in-person interaction was much better than the virtual Expo experience last year.” He adds, “While students were the main audience, the Expo also provided a change to connect with UWRF alumni who stopped at the booth to find out what was happening on campus and teachers from across the country asking for materials to use in a college display in their classroom.” 

Students found great success in the collegiate contests hosted by ATA, the national honorary professional organization for agricultural education majors. Lindsey Augustine and Noah Bestul took home the first-place essay contest in the team author category. The topic this year was, “What are the opportunities and challenges that would arise with a nationwide licensure process for School Based Agriculture Education teachers?” Their award-winning essay began with, “There were a total of 801 agricultural education positions not filled nationwide in 2020. With 661 agricultural education majors entering teaching, we still have 140 vacancies, excluding certified and non-licensed teachers” from the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE). Bestul is helping fill the gap with pursing an agricultural education degree and plans to stay involved within the career. 

The Parliamentary Procedure team included Jared Mack (Chair), Katrina Hoesly (Secretary), Carisa Cleven, Megan Hand, and Joe Schlies respectfully receiving top team for combined score on the written test and second place overall. There were three parts the team was evaluated on including a written test, a timed demonstration of new business at a meeting, and meeting minutes. 

Brooks Lueck, Jessica Magdanz, Jackie Rosenbush and Adam Strassburg won the debate competition. They addressed the chosen topic of, “In order to help address the current lack of School Based Agricultural Education teachers nationwide, there should be nationwide licensure policy to increase opportunities for alternatively certified teachers and synchronize requirements to be certified across state lines.”

UWRF was also awarded the top campus in the Professional Development Category in the Program of Excellence. This award recognizes the activities the agricultural education student organizations on each campus completed during the prior academic year. The UWRF presentation by Rhiannon Grenier and Jared Mack featured virtual teacher panels, 2020 National Teach Ag Day Celebration, and judging virtual FFA parliamentary procedure contests as the professional development activities. 

Every year the Nolan Award-Platinum has been honored, UWRF has received. This award recognizes campuses for their overall involvement in the collegiate contests. Moving forward to future years, UWRF is honored to serve as the host chapter for the 2022 Alpha Tau Alpha Conclave which will be held in Indianapolis, Indiana during the 2022 National FFA Convention and Expo. 

In or out of the blue corduroy jacket within the National FFA Organization, UWRF was well represented in ATA contests, the Expo, and on the big state during sessions at the 94th National FFA Convention and Expo.