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FFA panel discussion a first at crop and forage show

By Carol Stender

Date Modified: 03/12/2013 3:10 PM

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FERGUS FALLS, Minn. — The FFA Panel Discussion was a first for several students participating in the West Otter Tail Crop and Forage show event.

In fact, it was a first for the crop show, too.

Taking part in the West Otter Tail County Farm Bureau sponsored panel discussion were Abby Fronning, Karly Davenport and Kaci Walvatne, all of Fergus Falls; Kalon Meyer, of Detroit Lakes; Jake Jaenisch, of Ashby; and Alexander Okke, of Pelican Rapids.

Each was given 30 seconds to discuss "how we can play a role to ensure the viability of quality ag education programs in schools."

Ag classes should be offered before high school, said Okke. He suggested courses start in fifth grade. Students could get a taste of ag for a quarter so they would "know what it's like," he said.

Many think the ag programs are just about farming and for farm kids, said Davenport. But the ag courses focus on a variety of topics, said Davenport.

Next came 12 minutes of open discussion. The moderator's job was merely to step in if inappropriate language or topics were mentioned. The discussion was prompted by the students, and they didn't disappoint.

The panelists had an opportunity to discuss the topic in greater depth. Meyer suggested science classes focusing on ag principles and using teaching methods like a technical college.

Walvatne asked how the panelists would pursue ag if their schools didn't offer agriculture classes. Meyer said he'd look at adding an ag program by going through the FFA foundation. Businesses in the community could also help.

FFA week is a good time to get the ag message to communities.

A community garden is another way people can learn about agriculture, Fronning said. Not only can people get first-hand experience, the garden can help feed the community.

In closing statements, Jaenisch talked about the importance of ag courses and promoting the program. Students who take at least two ag classes are more likely to graduate, he said.

Three judges listened intently throughout the discussion and chose Jaenisch the winner of the panel discussion.

The panel discussion was one of several contests for area FFAers.

Other FFAers placing at the crop show were: FFA grain champion Brooke Hendricks of New York Mills; FFA forage champion Marissa Roden of Battle Lake; David Backstrom of Detroit Lakes as FFA wildlife individual; and the Detroit Lakes team placing first in FFA wildlife team.

Gavin Muscha of Richland County West placed first in the FFA individual job interview; Jona Friesen of Detroit Lakes won individual ag sales; Walon Fossan of Ashby was champion in FFA individual weed and seed identification; and Battle Lake was top team in FFA overall.

In the open class division, Scott Juven of Fergus Falls had the champion grain sample and Julian Sjostrom of Pelican Rapids had the top forage sample.

The crop and forage show had 31 total open class exhibitors entering 91 grain and forage samples. Thirty-eight FFA members entered 85 exhibits.