Wisconsin’s just concluded 85th FFA Convention in Madison had some familiar names very much involved and very successful.  Students with last names of Kruse, Zimmerman and Dado did themselves and their parents proud with how they did in the competition and award areas.  All those students are appreciative of how their parents encouraged and guided them toward their success at the convention with all six of those parents using their experience and knowledge earned in part by being former state FFA officers.

       The speaking contests always dominate the early part of the convention with the Creed contest for first year FFA members kicking things off.  Winning that contest was Emily Kruse of the Elkhorn FFA chapter where her father, Dave, is her agriculture instructor and FFA advisor and was a state FFA officer in 1992-93 from the Mauston. Emily said her parents have been helpful but not pushy in getting her involved in FFA activities, but she credits her dad with keeping her on task in learning the creed, fine tuning her presentation skills and properly answering the questions that are part of the Creed competition. She told us, “we worked on it a lot and there were times, late at night when I would get pretty frustrated with him but it was all worth it in the end and I thank him very much.”  Her mother, Amy (Meyer) from the Loyal FFA, was a two year officer serving on the 1991-92 team and then taking over as state FFA President for 1992-93. Emily said her mother wasn’t as involved in her Creed preparation as her dad but “she has spent a lot of time helping my brother with the quiz bowl competition.”

       Being only a freshman, Emily says she’s “expecting” more guidance from her parents on future FFA involvement and as far as following in her parents footsteps as state officer, she has “thought about it and it’s definitely an option.”

         The state winner in the Prepared Speaking contest was Ashley Zimmerman of the Spencer FFA who also has grown up with both parents and an older brother who have served as state officers. Her parents, Mark and Cheryl, are still active in FFA with Mark being Ashley’s advisor at Spencer High School while Cheryl serves as the Executive Director of the Wisconsin FFA.  Her older brother Aaron is now a student at UW-River Falls after serving as a state officer two years ago and winning three of the Stars at the 2012 convention.  Mark was a state officer from Osseo-Fairchild while Cheryl represented Pecatonica on the 1985-86 officer team. She said she wants to get involved in as many things as possible in FFA and told us, “my parents know FFA and they gave me tips on what to get involved in but I chose what I wanted to do.” Besides winning the prepared speaking contest she also placed second in the state in beef proficiency, behind her cousin Kevin Welke of Osseo-Fairchild and fourth in the Agricultural Education proficiency area.  As far as following her parents and brother as a state office, Ashley didn’t commit but said, “FFA runs in my DNA.”  She has just finished her junior year at Spencer.

      From the Amery FFA, brothers Trent and Ethan Dado are following their parents’path of success and leadership in the FFA. Their mother, Gwen Betzold Dado, was a state officer from Amery on the 1982-83 officer team while their dad, Dr. Rick Dado, was on the officer team in 1983-84 and served as state president on the 1984-85 team. Family friends told us Rick stepped aside in ‘82 to let Gwen run for office and then he followed her the next two years.  Both also became ag educators before returning to Gwen’s home dairy farm in about 2003.  Gwen firstt taught high school agriculture at Reedsburg and then moved to Michigan to consult on agricultural curicullum while Rick got his doctorate at Michigan State University and taught Animal Science courses at Southern Illinois University for a few years.  During his time as a state officer, Rick became well known as the officer who made his chapter visits on his motorcycle.

     Ethan is already following his parents as he was elected to the 2014-’15 state officer team to represent Section 1.  His motivation came more, he said, from his parents’ actions more so than any outright pressure for him to get involved in FFA.  He explained that there “was never any pressure to follow their path but seeing what they learned and accomplished through FFA definitely motivated me to be more involved.”  He also added that, “both (parents) have always had a strong passion for FFA and agriculture and they have instilled that in us.”  In preparation for running for office, Ethan added that his parents encouraged and motivated him more than advised him since the process has changed somewhat since they ran for office.  He also said running and possibly getting chosen to be a state FFA President would be “awesome but I’m also considering running for national FFA office.”  He is also attending the University of Minnesota, majoring in Animal Science and Agricultural Education.

    Younger brother Trent was also successful at the recent convention as he won the Extemporaneous Speaking contest with speeches on how to keep consumer confidence high regarding agricultural commodities and his final speech on how to keep young people farming. Trent said he was “proud and excited to see what Ethan can do to represent not only our section and the state but also our family in the year ahead as a state officer.”  He also is looking at his future in FFA and his parents have definitely been an influence.  He told us that “as of right now I’m planning to run for state office and follow in the family footsteps and keep the family tradition alive.”

       All four will move on to represent their sections, the state and their families at this year’s National FFA Convention in October in Louisville.