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Sibley-Ocheyedan FFA members talk Hawkeye Point with governor

S-O FFA members met with Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey Jan. 28 in Des Moines. Pictured are Josh Wagenaar (front, from left), Eddie Villanueva, Ignacio Romero, Emily Feldkamp and Iris van der Bruggen. Row two: State FFA President Steven Brockshus, Sara Eggink, Makenzie Wolter, Kim Cuadros, Gov. Terry Branstad, Amy Dreesen, Katie Willemssen, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, Brooke Block, Maddie Lonneman, and State FFA Vice President South Central Michael...

SIBLEY, Iowa -- Fifteen members of the Sibley-Ocheyedan FFA braved icy roads and foggy weather Jan. 28 to travel to Des Moines, Iowa, for a meeting with Gov. Terry Branstad.

FFA members met with the governor and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey in the Wallace Building for more than half an hour to highlight the improvements made to Iowa's highest point. Chapter President Evan Henningsen and Secretary Amy Dreessen shared a power point presentation documenting what has been accomplished with local resources and requested the state partner with Osceola County to develop Hawkeye Point into an Iowa Welcome Center.

During the presentation, FFA members shared the commitment of labor and resources made by the students, as well as the many contributions of supporters in the community. In addition to promoting Hawkeye Point as an Iowa Welcome Center, FFA members also emphasized their goal to use this area to promote all of the points of interest in Osceola County, the surrounding area and the entire state.

They reminded Branstad of Iowa's most scenic high point, Ocheyedan Mound, located less than 15 miles away, the three outstanding museums of the county, its county parks and the unique businesses in the county. An information kiosk located near the high point marker pictures these treasures of the county and gives visitors information on how to visit these sites.

Using statistics from the Department of Transportation, Henningsen told the governor the Iowa DOT estimates more than 6.4 million cars and trucks will travel Iowa 60 annually. He went on to say that even if only a fraction of 1 percent of these vehicles would stop, it would mean thousands of new visitors to the area. Hawkeye Point could be used as a hub to promote all of Osceola County and western Iowa.

Members shared several entries from the log book located at the high point. Comments such as "Iowa at its best," "Such a beautiful state," and "Thank you for keeping this open to the public" were but a few of the comments written by visitors from all 50 states as well as several foreign countries.

Following a question and answer session, Northey told the governor he was honored to be a speaker at one of the Hawkeye Point picnics a few years ago and was amazed at what had been accomplished since that time. The meeting concluded with Branstad complementing FFA members for their community service and the unique partnership forged between youths and adults in Osceola County.

Branstad indicated he would like to visit Hawkeye Point on one of his next trips to the area and will work with legislators to see what can be done to promote the project.

In addition to their meeting with Branstad, FFA members toured the Capitol and met with Sen. David Johnson and Rep. Jeff Smith.