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Lamberton's Ron Kelsey will be inducted into FFA Hall of Fame

By Carol Stender

Date Modified: 04/28/2012 9:48 PM

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LAMBERTON, Minn. — Ron Kelsey says being inducted to the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame is really a community award.

"This isn't something someone can do individually," he said. "It's your school, students, families and community that make it possible."

Kelsey, one of nine individuals who will be inducted this month, said guidance while growing up on the family farm, in college and through 35 years as an ag instructor and advisor at Red Rock Central High School served him well.

He was raised on a farm near Madelia as the seventh of 10 children born to Fern and Dale Kelsey.

As a Madelia High School freshman, Kelsey enrolled in ag classes and joined FFA. The leadership skills he's used throughout his life were forged through FFA and the tutelage of his advisor, Malcolm Brandt. As a sophomore, Kelsey decided to follow in Brandt's footsteps.

Kelsey worked two years in St. James after high school to earn money for college tuition and in winter milked cows on the farm. His father sold the herd when he left for college.

The Red Rock Central School District includes Lamberton, Sanborn, Storden and Jeffers.

He started teaching in 1965 and recalls the superintendent's first words to him.

"He said to me, 'You know, many of your students are going to be bigger than you. You aren't a very big person, so don't be scared of them,'" Kelsey said.

Kelsey quickly gained the respect and trust of his students. He made it a point to know their names and backgrounds. He made sure the discipline was fair and he took time to work with students.

"I saw those things in my ag teacher in Madelia," he said. "He set a pattern for me to follow."

During his tenure, Kelsey had five state officers, 21 talent acts in state competition and 45 teams in the state soils contest. He has been named an honorary FFA member by four chapters and received an honorary FFA degree at the region, state and national level.

"If you are going to be successful at anything, you have to put the work in it," Kelsey said. "That was the way it was on the farm. You just learned those values from the family. They didn't voice it, but you understood it."

His father also considered community involvement important.

"My dad said to me that when you go to the community, make sure you are involved in it," he said. "Because when you are gone, they will remember the good things you do. That's something they also talked about at the U of M."

Kelsey was Lamberton's mayor for two decades, on the city council for 10 years and was involved in the Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant. He is a member of the Lamberton Lions and Commercial clubs; a lay leader at the United Methodist Church; on the Western Community Action board; is drama director for Red Rock Central; and belongs to the Lamberton Historical Society. He is also a board member of the Red Rock School District.

Kelsey and his wife, Jeanne, have four children. Oak, Britta, Anna Belle and Linnea Dale each earned a State FFA degree.

He remains active with the chapter and works with the soils team and the state's FFA talent contest.

Kelsey was nominated to the FFA Hall of Fame by his former student, Steve Pooch.