LCS takes home nine FFA Degrees

Wednesday, June 15, 2022
(Photo Contributed) Le Mars Community High School FFA members who received their FFA Iowa Degree at State Leadership Conference are front from left, Bailey Brady, Calla Langel, Sophie Beitelspacher, and Larissa Sitzmann. Back row, Juan Sanchez, Jacob Harms, Ethan Lee, Jamison Marienau, and Wade Fisher.

LE MARS — Nine Le Mars Community High School FFA members were honored with the FFA Iowa Degree award during the Iowa FFA Leadership Conference in Ames.

Students honored were Calla Langel, Ethan Lee, Jacob Harms, Wade Fisher, Larissa Sitzmann, Jamison Marienau, Bailey Brady, Sophie Beitelspacher and Juan Sanchez.

“This is an outstanding number and is an accurate representation of how involved and driven for success the students are within the Le Mars Agricultural Program and FFA Chapter,” said Danielle Heying, LCS agriculture education instructor/FFA advisor.

Amongst the Elite

“Receiving the Iowa FFA Degree is the highest achievement that an FFA member can be bestowed with at the state level. It is definitely a standard in the chapter among our students to achieve this honor during their junior or senior year. In addition, I believe that the higher number shows an accurate depiction of how much our program is continuing to grow and excel.”

Students submit an application for the award, and must meet the minimum involvement requirements in all components of the three-circle model: SAE, FFA and classroom/laboratory.

“An SAE is a Supervised Agricultural Experience that every student is encouraged to have within our agricultural program. Students learn about different SAE opportunities during the first agriculture class they take at LCHS and are given time in class to brainstorm potential areas of interest,” Heying explained.

Vast Experiences

“We have a very unique array of students at LCHS — some with very strong agricultural backgrounds that have traditional SAEs of working with livestock or grain operations. On the other hand, we also have students without any agricultural background that have an SAE related to food handling and safety at a local restaurant/coffee shop in town or helping with our ag program hydroponics, test plot, or animal learning center. The options are truly endless. Once a student has decided upon an SAE, they spend the duration of the year keeping accurate records and goals related to their project of interest,” she continued.

Several of the students shared about their SAEs and their involvement in FFA.

Working Alongside Her Dad

Langel’s SAE is a cattle and grain operation.

“I help my dad with the cattle we have and help haul grain during the fall. I currently feed two heifers on my own to help get my cattle operation going,” she said.

Her classes have included Ag 1 & 2, the Business and Marketing class and Survey to the Animals.

A junior, Langel currently serves as the 2021-2022 chapter reporter and in 2022-2023 will serve as president.

Langel said, “This award means a lot. It shows all my work is paying off and that I am learning alongside my dad. This is just one step to showing what I am passionate about.”

“I participate in FFA because I have a passion for agriculture. I grew up on a farm and have always been interested in what all has to offer. I would like to pursue a job somewhere in the ag field,” Langel continued.

While she is unsure about where she will attend college, Langel said she is very interested in the ag marketing/business side of things as well as working with animals.

Down on the Farm

Harms worked as a farmhand on his neighbor’s farm for his SAE.

“I would spend weekends and summer days fixing fence, washing equipment, cleaning up downed trees, bailing hay, and other odds and ends around the farm,” he said.

A senior, Harms has been a member of FFA for four years and volunteers for many of the events put on by the chapter.

“I participate in FFA because I grew up around agriculture and think it is very important to continue educating people about the agriculture industry,” Harms said.

He said he has taken many ag classes throughout high school, but his favorites were Survey of the Animal Industry and Ag Leadership.

Harms plans to attend South Dakota State University to major in agriculture and biosystems engineering.

More than Farming

Marienau focused his SAE on swine science placement.

The junior has taken the classes of Ag 1, Ag 2, Horticulture, and Ag Construction.

“This award means to me how far I have come from my freshman year to my junior year,” Marienau said.

Marienau plans to attend Iowa Lakes Community College to study ag production and ag tech, and also take a welding class.

“The FFA experience will help me by meeting new people and know that ag is not just a farming job,” he said.

Community Involvement Inspired

Sitzmann’s SAE was preparing her show steers for jackpots and the fair starting in October and ending around August-September.

“I participate in FFA because I wanted to become more involved within the community and meet new people,” Sitzmann said. “I am involved with many committees. I enjoy attending meetings, participating in many community events, as well as the kiddie barn at Plymouth County Fair.”

Her ag classes have included Ag Science 2, Agronomy and Survey of Animal Science.

A senior, Sitzmann plans to attend SDSU and study animal science.

“FFA fits into these plans because I want to be an advocate and make sure that people know that you do not need to be involved in agriculture to be involved in FFA,” she said.

Sitzmann added, “This award is quite important to me because it shows me that hard work and dedication pays off.”

Focusing on Food Safety

Brady explained her SAE involved working at the bowling alley, Sweet 16 Lanes, as a cook where she worked on her food safety skills.

“I try to stay as active as I can by attending meetings and events among our chapter,” Brady said of her FFA involvement.

“FFA is a great way to meet new people and it has helped me learn how to publicly speak more proficiently,” she continued.

Brady has taken Ag Leadership and Survery of the Animal Industry classes, as well as Ag Business and Marketing, Principles of Agronomy, Ag Science 1, and Ag Science 2.

The FFA Iowa Degree means a lot to Brady.

“It is a high achievement and makes me feel very accomplished. This award shows me why all of my hard work has paid off,” she said.

A Nod to Horticulture

Sanchez’s SAE centered on plant science.

“For my SAE I worked at Holzman Lawn Care, increasing my knowledge in plants, and landscaping design/skills. I helped mowing, moving rock, moving plants, planting trees, trimming trees, running equipment, as well putting in retaining walls. This experience has led me to starting my own company someday,” Sanchez said.

He calls his involvement in FFA “a little bit of everything.”

“I am always trying to get my hands on something to do, when I have time,” he said.

Sanchez is a junior and has already taken Ag Science I and Ag Science 2, as well as horticulture.

“After I graduate I plan on going to Iowa Central Community College for turf management and landscaping design. I also plan on traveling thru the U.S. Army and exploring new places. The life of a soldier is the best,” he said.

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