Warren County FFA members win big at state

By Cindy Gladden, Correspondent
Posted 5/9/23

During the history of the organization, FFA meant Future Farmers of America. Today the organization has evolved to a student organization that welcomes members who may not plan to be production …

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Warren County FFA members win big at state


During the history of the organization, FFA meant Future Farmers of America. Today the organization has evolved to a student organization that welcomes members who may not plan to be production farmers, but seek careers as teachers, doctors, scientists or agricultural related business owners.

There are two very active and successful FFA Chapters in Warren County, one at Warrenton High School and the other at Wright City High School. Both groups just returned from their state convention, held April 20-21, with honors they earned through much preparation and hard work.

FFA advisors include Dan Burkemer and Diane Miederhoff at WHS and Kelsey Kemry at WCHS. All advisors are critical to the direction their students take, but they let the leadership skills their students learn in FFA speak for themselves.

The highest WHS achievement was earned by senior Kelsey Miller who received the Youth in Ag Scholarship and was installed at a 2023-24 Missouri FFA State Vice President. Miller will be attending University of Missouri in Columbia this fall and aspires to become a certified Ag Ed teacher.

Miller will travel to assigned area schools where she will meet with FFA chapters, working with their teams, and operating workshops. She feels it is the perfect way to prepare for her teaching career ahead.

The WHS Entomology Team placed fourth in the state. Members of the team are Leah Guss, Ben Flake, Grant Buehner and Gavin Wright. As part of their preparation, students memorized more than 100 insects native to Missouri. In addition to identification of species, students learned if those insects were beneficial or destructive and how to provide control strategies.

“A lot of damage can be done to the crops,” said Flake. “We learn to diagnose what’s wrong with the crops and how to fix it.” 

Buehner said they answered 75 general questions during the competition, including information about the insect’s scientific order, the nature of the insect’s mouth part and it’s life cycle.

Warrenton’s Floriculture team also placed at the state convention. Team members are Allison Duncan, Kelsey Miller, Autumn Bledsoe and Grace Schlansker 

The members learned to identify more than 130 flowers and bedding plants commonly grown in Missouri. They also learned to understand why plants become unhealthy and how to treat them. Propagation, growth requirements, growing techniques, harvesting, marketing and maintenance of the plants were all themes the team needed to understand 

Bailey Schneider placed fifth in Advanced Public Speaking.

“I had to write and present a six- to eight-minute speech of any agriculture topic,” she said. “I chose to speak on eminent domain because my family has been affected by it since 1940. My great-grandma was just married, had a new house and she lost it all when the towns of Howell and Hamburg were acquired near the Busch Wildlife Area.”

Nicole Benne was the Overall State Winner in Forest Management. Because of her family firewood company, she found the topic particularly interesting and helpful to the business.

Maddie Dent was the Overall State Winner in the Small Animal Production category. Dent is an employee at 4-W Country Aire Kennels, where she spends about 20 hours a week taking care of 40 female Westies, three males and their puppies. She will bring the knowledge learned in FFA to augment her job skills.

“I want people to know that breeding puppies is not a sin,” said Dent. “These puppies are very well taken care of.”

Other recognitions were given to Kelsey Miller as the Overall Second Place Winner in Agricultural Processing; to Dalton Williams and Doralynn Lee as chapter delegates; and to Doralynn Lee as she was selected to perform a saxophone solo with the State FFA Band 

WCHS also brought home awards. Corbin Schone earned the Missouri FFA State Degree. The last WCHS student to win that award was Todd Reckamp in 1997. The honor is the “highest recognition a state can award” according to FFA officials.

Schone said in order to qualify for the award, his work with cattle must be tracked for four years during his high school education. He tracked a variety of statistics on his cattle, including money spent, specific livestock information and profit earned.

The horse team placed eighth at state. Members are Charleigh Farrell, Reagan Vehige, Maddy Knopfel and Bailey Love. The highest score went to Farrell. All team members tackled a vast amount of information — colors, breeds, tack, styles of showing and performance. The members learn to analyze the horse and judge confirmation.

“I’ve been around horses since I was itty bitty,” said Farrell. “I own four horses of my own, with 12 total in my family.”

Farrell said she is a rodeo girl and enjoyed getting a better overall education the FFA experience gave her.

Vehige’s experience involves training horses in western pleasure riding. Knopfel has experience competing in dressage, hunter jumper, ranch riding and English pleasure. Love said her grandmother and mother were both horse judges.

All the members of the horse team said they have built their social skills, broadened their vocabulary and gained a lot of confidence during the FFA experience.

“I always saw myself being in FFA,” said Vehige. “My brother encouraged it. Now I’ve gained confidence in public speaking. You’ve always got to walk in with confidence.”

ffa, warren county, high school, wright city, warrenton


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