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FULDA -- Southwest Minnesota will be well represented during the next year in the FFA, with both the president and vice president hailing from the area.
During the final session of the 84th Minnesota FFA Convention Tuesday in St. Paul, delegates elected Mallory Pagel, a Fulda High School senior, to lead the agricultural organization for the next year; while Stuart Schumacher, a senior at Southwest Star Concept, will serve as Minnesota FFA vice president.
"The excitement hasn't quite worn off," said Pagel on Wednesday morning. "I'm quite excited for the year."
As state officers, she and Schumacher will assist in leading a week-long State Greenhand Leadership Conference for freshman FFA members this summer, followed by a second leadership camp for high school FFA members. In addition, officers will promote the FFA through business and industry functions.
Pagel, the daughter of Mike and Theane Pagel, grew up in the FFA with her dad as a longtime advisor of the Fulda FFA Chapter.
"Basically, my entire childhood I was taken to all of these events," she said.
Her older sister, Kirsten, was a region and state officer, and seeing her succeed made Pagel want to do the same.
"I knew how much I wanted to do that, so once I started the FFA, I started out running," she said with a laugh. "I tried to take advantage of every opportunity, and it's turned out pretty good so far."
Pagel served as secretary, then vice president and ultimately president of the Fulda FFA Chapter, and just completed her term as Region 6 FFA vice president. She was the Region 6 FFA reporter in her junior year.
"A lot of those have helped ease me into this role," Pagel said.
She served on the state officer selection committee in 2012, and attended the Washington Leadership Conference for FFA members.
"One of the biggest things that FFA has taught me was to be myself," she said. "FFA is a huge leadership organization, it's not just agriculture."
A self-professed shy girl, Pagel said attending the Greenhand Leadership Conference as a freshman helped her to find her voice. Now, she hopes to use that voice to help other teens succeed in the organization.
"I want to be an influence on FFA members -- to encourage them to strive for their goals, and they will achieve them," she said. "I want to give back to the organization that has given me so much. I want to be able to have that impact on other members -- maybe I'll just give them the push to start growing, start achieving the goals they want to achieve."
Pagel will begin her freshman year in college this fall at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus, where she will pursue a degree in a yet-undetermined area of agriculture.
Schumacher, son of Adam and Chris Schumacher of Heron Lake, served as the Southwest Star Concept FFA's vice president in 2011-2012, and secretary this past year. He was also the 2012-2013 Region 6 FFA treasurer.
Like Pagel, he decided early in his FFA career to try for a state office.
"I went to the State Greenhand Leadership Conference -- Mallory was also there, along with Brandon (Roiger of Sleepy Eye, the new state FFA reporter)," Schumacher said. "I was just inspired there, and set a goal that I wanted to run for state office before I graduated.
"I wanted to be somebody who, in the future, could lead people into the FFA," he added. "At that moment, I wanted to inspire students the way I was."
Along the way, Schumacher has received much support in his FFA endeavors, starting with his parents. His mom was the Minnesota FFA president in 1988-'89, and his dad earned the National FFA Star in Agribusiness award in 1991.
Also getting credit are the Place family -- Keith Place is the SSC FFA advisor, his wife Julie was Schumacher's speech coach, and their daughters encouraged him as he sought a state office; Leah Addington, a state FFA director who "gave me the overall hope to run for state office"; and SSC Superintendent Ann Wendorff, who made sure Schumacher met his deadlines to complete his officer application.
Schumacher said the FFA has taught him how to talk to people, and his goal during the coming year is to "give back to the organization and future members."
"I really just hope to inspire students to join the FFA and get the most out of it," he said.
Schumacher plans to pursue a degree in agriculture and food business management when he starts college this fall at either the University of Minnesota or North Dakota State University.
Pagel and Schumacher will serve this year with Sentinel Heidie Sloot, Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop; Reporter Brandon Roiger, Sleepy Eye; Treasurer Dylan Antoff, Winona; and Secretary Brooke Wente, Morris Area.
They will represent more than 9,000 Minnesota FFA members during their year in office.
There were 23 candidates vying for a state office this year. Each had to complete five rounds of interviews, participate in conversation and facilitator activities, take a written knowledge test on agriculture and the FFA and write a thank-you note, blog post or email.
Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.