Words, deeds earn Vander Wal family ‘FFA Family of the Year’ Award

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Farm Forum

BROOKINGS – The SD FFA Foundation awarded the first ever “FFA Family-of-the-Year” award, honoring a family’s long term involvement in the SD FFA/Agriculture Education program, on February 9, during half time of the SDSU/FFA Corduroy Classic women’s basketball game. The 2013 recipient of this award is the AJ and Mary Vander Wal family, including Lawrence, Dale, Kent, Dean, Paul, Kelly, Jeff, Londa and their spouses, as well as current FFA members Ethan, Baillie, Carter, Micheala, Riley, Katie, Dayton, Mariah.

“The purpose of this award is to recognize a FFA family that has gone the extra-mile for the SD FFA at the local and state levels through their words and deeds. The actions of the entire Vander Wal family through multiple generations have modeled the FFA mission … developing premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agriculture education. We are glad we could recognize them with this special award,” said Gerri Ann Eide, SD FFA Foundation Executive Director.

The Vander Wals have been very active at the chapter, state, and national levels of FFA. They have 3- third generation state degree recipients and will continue to have more. “FFA is an asset and we believe it is an important part of who we are, who we have become, and what we have accomplished,” wrote Bailley Vander Wal. The Vander Wal family continues to promote FFA through their actions, participating in chapter and state activities, and supporting great grandchildren, grandchildren, children, brothers, sisters and cousins. They show leadership by staying active in their local chapters; coaching judging teams, providing livestock judging schools, and always being there to answer a question, help with a project, or fill out an application. They are role models that everyone can all look up to, and inspire the younger family members to become more active. They not only support FFA by attending events, but also promote and financially support the organization.

Vander Wal family members include 11 state degree recipients, 14 chapter officers, a national Proficiency winner, a member of the National Champion Dairy Foods team, a state officer, 2 Star State Farmers, a Star State in Agri-Business, the State FFA Foundation board Treasurer, a member of the FFA Costa Rica Travel Seminar, several state proficiency award winners and numerous individuals who placed in the top 10 at state in livestock, Ag Mechanics, dairy foods, parliamentary procedure, ag sales and other career development events. Every family member has filled out at least one or more state proficiency applications and almost all of the family members have represented South Dakota at the National FFA Convention.

The Vander Wals have been involved in many community activities through the Sioux Valley and Milbank FFA chapters including: making picnic tables in both communities, building baskets for a Frisbee golf course in the Volga City Park, hosting soup suppers and cheeseburger feeds, and building floats for homecoming parades. They have also brought in animals to a petting zoo, educating elementary students about the livestock industry. Several family members have been top salesmen in the annual fruit sales fundraiser.

The SD FFA Foundation presented each Vander Wal family group with an “FFA Family of the Year” photo frame and thank you for your tremendous impact on agriculture education and FFA in SD. The FFA Family of the year award is sponsored by FMC, as a special project of the SD FFA Foundation.