Elgin FFA celebrates past, present & future at annual banquet

Elgin FFA’s past, present and future came together Friday night as a banquet celebrating the golden anniversary of FFA was held.
Current FFA members were joined by officers from 50 years ago when FFA was started at the school. They, along with parents and supporters of the program, celebrated a year of achievement and success. Awards were handed out and new officers for the 2017/2018 school year were announced. Before any of that happened, guest speaker Matt Dolch gave a speech challenging FFA members to answer the challenges that await the nation in the coming years. Calling himself “a proud Nebraska resident with Iowa roots, Dolch spoke for over 30 minutes about the past, present and future of FFA and how Elgin FFA members today can be part of the solution to the problems facing agriculture in future years.
Having previously served as Iowa FFA President , Dolch today works for Syngenta. managing a $56 million seed business. Yet, it’s clear that FFA remains a very important part of his life.
On Friday night, he spoke of FFA’s past, how it has played a big part in his life and that of the Dolch family.
During the time his father was a chapter officer, there was a headline in his father’s scrapbook which said “One day we hope women will join the FFA”. Women first joined FFA in 1969 and the numbers have grown. “That is especially hard to believe when you look at the fact that several of our past Nebraska FFA presidents and National FFA officers are women,” he said.
His experiences on the farm differ from many today. He spoke of cultivating corn and soybeans before Roundup, delivering cattle to the Omaha Stockyards, providing weed control with a bean hook, and planting with markers.
Speaking of past generations of farmers, Dolch said, “These type of people figured out a way, and got things done. Not too different from the 33 students that gathered in Kansas City in 1928 to form this very organization, built on the idea of ‘greater opportunity for self-expression and development of leadership.’”
Agriculture today, he said, is “us in this room. We are molding our past experiences into today and generating a future.” FFA members today have two options, one to follow the same old path or, two, seek new opportunities.
“We have and will continue to grow more with less. The biggest concern I have and missing piece to the puzzle is sitting in this gym … it’s the people … at the end of the day we need talented young students to make decisions.
“We do have an extraordi-nary task in agriculture in the coming years. Feeding nine billion people across the world by 2050, conserving three percent of the fresh water supply on earth to live and produce food with, finding talented people to lead our industry. Where will this innovation come from?”
The answer? Dolch said Elgin is a piece to that puzzle.
“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but a lack of will, in other words, hard work,” he said.
In his closing remarks, Dolch said, “There is more to that blue corduroy FFA jacket we are wearing tonight than what meets the eye. It represents more than just farm kids, more than just some organization. it stands for leadership, character, commitment and a desire in today’s youth to promote agriculture.”
Dolch reiterated his philosophy for success. It’s summed up in four keys. They are:
1) Build a personal profile (who you are and what you want to strive for)
2) Make the best better
3) Grow your network
4) Uphold integrity (yourself and your team)
New officers, awards
FFA members applying to become officers were interviewed approximately two weeks ago by a committee composed of members of the community. The results were announced towards the end of the meeting.
Marie Meis was re-elected to a second term as FFA president. She may be one of a few, or possibly the only person in the history of Elgin FFA to serve two terms as president.
Other officers announced were:
Vice president — Lydia Behnk
Secretary — Allyson Wemhoff
Treasurer — Calli Krebs (second year)
Reporter — Kira Widger
Sentinel — Hunter Reestman
Parliamentarian — Adam Dreger
It was also announced that Taralyn Baum will serve as Junior Advisor.
Numerous other awards were presented.
Freshman earning Greenhand degrees were Austin Bauer, Lane Bartak, Adam Dreger, Cade Heithoff, Blake Hupp, Tyler Iburg, Kayce Kallhoff, Faith Kinney, Olivia Lindgren, Araceli Palmer, Cory Romej, Talena Woodard and Haley Zegers.
Recipient of the coveted Star Greenhand was Adam Dreger.
Chapter Degrees were awarded to Breanna Carr, Ervin Dohmen, Kaylee Martinsen, Hunter Reestman, R.J. Lierman, Leslie Nichols, Lauren Seier, Kyle Schumacher, Allyson Wemhoff and Kira Widger.
Chapter Star Farmer award was presented to Justin Funk.
Honorary chapter degrees were awarded to Dwight & Ester Bush, Ron & Angela Funk, Shelley & Charley Bode, Alan & Lisa Welding,  Byron & Lori Bergman as well as Dennis & Lynell Morgan.
Retiring senior officers Kenny Bush, Elianne Heil-hecker, Kelsey Welding and Elizabeth Selting stood behind the podium and shared FFA moments not to be forgotten, poignant and humorous.