Students receive scholarships to attend FFA summer leadership retreats

Farm Forum

BATH — Agriculture education teachers/FFA advisors make a world of difference for the students they teach. This spring students put into words, as part of an FFA Advisor Tribute Scholarship application, how their ag teachers/FFA advisors have impacted their lives. Ten outstanding examples of amazing teachers impacting their students have been chosen and submitting students will each receive scholarships to attend a S.D. FFA Leadership Retreat this summer. Sydnie Peters, Winner; Kathryn McClure, Hoven; Caitlin Schlotte, Webster; Raechael Seidel, Lemmon; Carolyn Blatchford; Brookings; Cole Schneider, Brookings; Stacy Reynolds, Rapid City; Nate Rendon, Rapid City; Baylee Vollmer; Sturgis; and Elle Moon, Wall earned scholarships.

The ten students wrote essays about how their FFA advisors have made an impact on their lives. Each of these student’s thinks their advisor is one of the best there is, and is happy to say so!

• Baylee Vollmer, Sturgis, comments, “even when faced with adversity, Mr. Brett Monson seems to help us find the silver lining in every situation. This spring I competed in my first CDE event; dairy cattle evaluation. We quickly learned this CDE was full of information. I went to him with my concerns of time and lack of experience; his positive reassurance helped my team and I pull through. Even though we didn’t place; as a team we grew and learned a lot.”

• Kathryn McClure, Hoven junior, shares, “Miss Sarah Colombe was put in a stressful position as a brand new teacher, having to reorder everything for our program after the school fire, as well as teaching ag and advising FFA. Even though she was not here the year before when our school and Ag program burned, she worked with insurance companies to replace everything that was lost. She was positive and helpful, doing everything possible to make things as normal as possible for the students.”

• Sydnie Peters, Winner FFA senior, expresses her gratitude, “Mr. Wyatt DeJong has influenced my life greatly by always being there, opening doors to new experiences, and encouraging me to do and be the best I can be. He is always there if I need help or advice. We attended numerous events throughout the year that were all new to me and gave me wonderful lessons and memories … with him as my advisor I have realized just how much I love the agricultural field and want to make a career of it.”

• Cole Schneider, Brookings junior, says, “Mr. Josh Johnson encourages all members, including myself to strive that extra mile to try and get that district office, try a new CDE, or apply for proficiencies for our SAE projects. He has given his time to me every day, especially when I have questions or concerns.”

• Carolyn Blatchford, Brookings FFA freshman, says, “Mr. Josh Johnson has pushed me to believe in my abilities, to learn more, and succeed in FFA. He has instilled many life lessons I will use through my future, in and out of the blue jacket. Because of his enthusiasm, I’m just as excited about FFA and want to share that with others.”

• Caitlin Schlotte, Webster FFA junior, shares, “Mr. Fred Zenk has been the Webster Ag teacher and FFA advisor 19 years and taught agricultural since 1989. During that time he taught about 2,600 students including myself. He always pushes students to do their best. Under his guidance, 158 Webster FFA members received the State FFA Degree, 21 the American FFA Degree, and 7 served as state FFA officers. Many of his students now have successful careers in agriculture. He encourages us to work hard but to have fun as well. He made a huge impact on my life by teaching me many skills that will help me all throughout life, like how to communicate effectively, budget my money, and be a productive member of my community.

• Raechael Seidel, Lemmon FFA junior, says “Mrs. Knuth sets up practices on her lunch break to help us. She isn’t the type of teacher to just set a book in front of us and tell us to read it and learn it, she makes our practices fun so we enjoy what we’re practicing and get excited about competition. She is a role model … helped with my public speaking, which I will use my whole life. I am lucky to have a teacher that cares about her students and I am proud to tell my peers that my ag teacher and FFA advisor is Mrs. Etta Knuth.”

• Stacy Reynolds, Rapid City FFA freshman, comments, “Mrs. Bobbie Jo Donovan always makes me feel as though I am part of the chapter even though I am shy. She believes in me more than I believe in myself at times on what I can do or accomplish.”

• Elle Moon, Wall FFA sophomore, says, “Ms. Dani Herring isn’t just a teacher who only sees students in class but she’s also a community member who always lends a hand and is friendly. She always has a smile and helping hand for us. If I don’t know what to do she is always there giving me advice and telling me to try new things!! I appreciate everything she has done and will continue to do for me, for all of us!”

• Nate Rendon, Rapid City FFA junior, shares, “Mrs. Donovan has helped me learn about leadership and responsibility, along with wildlife, forestry and agricultural. She pushes our chapter to be active locally and in the district and state. She meets with us early in the morning to help us prepare. Her love for FFA is contagious and has rubbed off on me.”

Scholarships are made possible through the S.D. FFA Foundation by West River Electric Association, Sioux Valley Energy, and the Walt Johnson Memorial Fund; in memory of two past FFA advisors: Leonard DeBoer and Walt Johnson. Both men led by example and their advice was truly ripened with wisdom. Mr. DeBoer spent his life teaching young people about agriculture and the leadership skills that would make them successful in their career choice. He was the FFA advisor in Chamberlain for almost 40 years where he lived FFA’s mission by making a difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. Mr. Johnson served as the S.D. FFA Foundation President, as well as on the S.D. FFA Foundation board, in Newell as an ag teacher, community supporter and coach for FFA career development events. He was devoted to agriculture education and earned his Honorary American FFA Degree in 2007.

For more information about the South Dakota FFA Foundation and South Dakota’s FFA programs, visit