MMCRU five earn degree

Thursday, June 23, 2022
MMCRU High School FFA members who received their FFA Iowa Degree at State Leadership Conference in April are, from left, Kaden Neddermeyer, Matthew Koalbaum, Sophie Hohbach, Carson Loutsch, and Gunnar Grage.
(Photo Contributed)

REMSEN/MARCUS — The MMCRU FFA Chapter has five new FFA Iowa Degree awardees.

Gunnar Grage, Sophie Hohbach, Matthew Kollbaum, Carson Loutsch and Kaden Neddermeyer were presented the honor during the Iowa FFA Leadership Conference in Ames.

Students are selected on the basis of an application process in which they describe in detail their SAE (supervised agricultural experience). FFA members who qualify for the Iowa Degree must meet the minimum involvement requirements in all components of the three-circle model: SAE, FFA and classroom/laboratory.

MMCRU AgEd Instructor/FFA Advisor Samantha Schroeder explained how the students decided their projects.

“Students will discuss with me what they are doing at home or are pursuing in their free time. I will work with them to put their ideas into a category that fits the SAE criteria. For example, Sophie wanted to build a Gravity Wagon basketball game with her dad just from a picture she had. She did that and was able to raise funds for our chapter during RAGBRAI with a stop along the road last summer. The category was entrepreneurship and the practice was power and tech technology,” Schroeder said.

“Kaden, Carson, and Matthew had livestock projects that are also entrepreneurship as they raised their own line of production animals. Kaden has a poultry operation I personally purchase eggs from and recommend. Carson learned how to efficiently feed his cattle and pick the closest weights from his feedlot. Matthew has managed his own herd of goats and continues to breed and maintain quality goats for show.

“I had one placement category that requires students to work under someone and Gunnar basically manages Beer City and has his own secret menu I would recommend asking for,” Schroeder continued.

Cattle It Is

For Loutsch, who is a junior, cattle were his project of choice.

“I grew four steers from 800 pounds to sell weight and tracked their feed records,” he said. “Then I presented them at the Cherokee County Fair.”

Loutsch serves as the chapter’s treasurer.

“FFA is fun and allows me to explore the agriculture field,” Loutsch said. He has already taken classes of Intro to Ag, Animal Science, Aquaponics and Ag Power and Tech.

“The Iowa Degree means that a lot of hard work from the SAE paid off,” he said.

Loutsch said he hopes FFA will open a door to his career following graduation.

A Love for All Things Ag

Kollbaum’s SAE project is a goat herd that he has been raising since his freshman year.

“I was this past year’s Sentinel at the MMCRU FFA chapter,” he said.

His classes have included Ag, Leadership, Animal Science, Aquaponics and Intro to Ag 1 and 2.

“I participate in the FFA because of my love for agriculture and the opportunities that it presents to me and the many people that you are able to meet,” Kollbaum said.

He said the award shows all the hard work that he has put into his goats.

Kollbaum plans to attend NCC for a degree in industrial instrumentation and control.

“I plan to get a job in the ag field. My FFA experiences will help me because of all the people that I have met,” he added.

The Competitive Spirit

Neddermeyer turned to chickens for his SAE project.

“For my project I did an entrepreneurial SAE by raising chickens and selling their eggs,” he said.

“I am involved with our FFA chapter through CTE competitions and will be our chapter secretary next year,” he said.

Through the Ag program he has taken an Intro to Ag Class, Agronomy, Animal Science, and Wildlife and Natural Resources classes.

“I participate in FFA to take part in competitions as a fun way to test what we’ve learned,” he said.

“This award is important to me as it is somewhat selective, and it is a good way of showing how successful my SAE has been,” he added.

His plans after graduation include earning a degree in Computer Science and hopefully find a job that incorporates agriculture into a tech environment.

An Active Member

Grage, a senior, started his SAE project when he was a sophomore in high school.

“I got a job at Beer City where I worked back in the kitchen preparing food. Within a couple of months of working there I added a new product to the menu. I’m currently the manager at Beer City where I help oversee the restaurant,” he said.

He has been an active member of the FFA Chapter for four years.

“In that time I have been the treasurer during my sophomore and junior years, and the vice president for my senior year,” he said.

“Throughout my four years in FFA, I have gotten to see our chapter grow tremendously from the number of members to the number of events that we organize. My freshman year I was the co-chair of a committee to help get an Animal Science Center up and going.

“I’ve also gotten the chance to start our own fundraiser which our chapter is really proud of. Our Caramel Apple fundraiser, this is where we make our very own caramel and hand dip all of our apples,” he said.

“I have gotten the chance to get to Nationals along with the State Convention. This year we made it to state in our Program of Activities,” he continued.

Each year he has taken ag-related courses. They include Intro to Ag, Natural Resources, Aquaponics and AG Power and Tech, and he is currently taking Leadership.

“I participate in FFA because I’ve always had a passion for ag and through FFA I can see that agriculture is more than just farming. It also teaches me a lot of life long skills that will be able to be put to use in the future,” Grage said.

He plans to attend Iowa Lakes Community College for aviation.

Not One, But Two

Hohbach, a junior, had two SAE projects which she used in her application for the FFA Iowa Degree.

“The first involved taking care of our chapter’s greenhouse and garden beds over the summer. I was in charge of watering plants, harvesting vegetables, and pulling weeds,” she explained. “For my second project, I took an old grain wagon and got it sandblasted and powder coated so I could make it into a basketball game. I added two backboards and hoops and created a ball return system that can be detached for travel.

“This award means a lot to me because of all the hard work and time I put into my projects,” she added.

Her involvement in her local chapter includes competing in many different contests, including meats judging, ag broadcasting, floriculture, and envirothon.

“I received the MVP award for attending the most events and I am also the chapter reporter for the 22-23 school year,” she said. “I participate in FFA because of the endless opportunities. I get to meet new people, grow my communication skills, and try many new things.”

Her ag-related classes have included Intro to Ag, Horticulture and Agronomy. She is currently taking Animal Science and Wildlife and Natural Resources.

“I’m not sure what exactly I want to do after graduation, but I plan on continuing my education within the agriculture field. FFA has helped me because I already have a head start in many different subjects. I am also going to work on applying for my American degree,” she said.

A Proud Sponsor

Schroeder was extremely pleased with the five students receiving the award.

“My first thought was ‘wow, this is my biggest group to get their Iowa Degree and I am so proud.’ Encouraging kids to get their Iowa Degree is like pulling teeth. I was so happy to have these five kids want to get their degree and have such neat projects to get them with,” Schroeder said.

She also credits them with a work ethic that will serve them well.

“This is a huge accomplishment and I have first hand seen or worked with the kids as they grew with their degrees. They have learned to be more organized and recognized that without this time of reflection, they would have never known that they did actually learn something on their own. The skills they attained is something they will not forget and will help them in their future,” Schroeder concluded.