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Repeat performance: Windom FFA team is tops in nation

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- For the second consecutive year, a Windom High School FFA team has garnered a national championship. Three of the four team members went from the top Food Science CDE team in the nation last year to the No. 1 Floriculture CD...

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Windom High School FFA members who earned first place at the National FFA Convention last week in the Floriculture CDE contest include Victoria Schutz (from left), Lindsay Muller, Eliza Ford and Dakota Scott. (Special to The Globe)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - For the second consecutive year, a Windom High School FFA team has garnered a national championship.

Three of the four team members went from the top Food Science CDE team in the nation last year to the No. 1 Floriculture CDE team last week at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis. Windom senior Dakota Scott, junior Lindsay Muller and sophomore Victoria Schutz - along with college freshman Eliza Ford - bested nearly 50 judging teams for the win. Scott earned third place individual, while Ford took sixth place among an estimated 200 competitors.

After school Monday, Scott, Muller and Schutz were gathered in the high school ag room, which could be considered their home away from home. After all, the team logged more than 350 hours of prep work for the national contest just since May, after earning first place in the state FFA contest.

“We practiced all summer,” Scott said. “Ever since we won state, we practiced. We also did a lot of practice before state.”

As a returning national winner, Muller said they felt the pressure to repeat this year, even though it was an entirely different contest.

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“When you win your first time at nationals, that sets the bar really high,” she said. “It’s stressful, but it’s not a bad thing. It’s good to set your own standards high.”

Muller was actually a substitute on the Floriculture team, taking the place of Ethan Johnson, who wasn’t able to attend the National FFA Convention. She had never competed in a Floriculture contest prior to nationals, but had the advantage of practicing with the team all summer. Ironically, she was also a substitute on the chapter’s Food Science team that won nationals last year.

“We wanted to win nationals again, but we also wanted to beat our personal scores,” said Scott, who bested his seventh-place finish last year and was third individually this time. Ford also improved, going from a silver placing last year to sixth place.

The Floriculture CDE contest spanned two days of the 90th National FFA Convention and included an exam, plant identification, problem solving for disorders such as plant pests, nutrient deficiencies and viruses, a team activity and job interview.

The team went into Thursday’s contest feeling confident, despite a difficult exam that tested its general greenhouse and floriculture knowledge.

“We all thought the team activity went really well,” Scott said. “We had good communication … creativity. We really felt we hit the nail on the head.”

An evening banquet Friday revealed the results of the Floriculture CDE contest.

“The winning team is the last thing announced,” said Scott, adding that it took more than an hour for them to learn they were the national winners.

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“It was very stressful,” he said. “We always go in knowing we tried our best. We were just really happy to hear that we won.”

A team plaque was awarded, as well as plaques for each team member. Scott also received a plaque as third place individual, and Windom High School FFA Advisor and team coach Darcy Dahna was presented a plaque. The four FFA members each received $1,000 as well.

“It’s about $3 an hour for the work we put in,” quipped Scott.

In addition to the hardware and scholarship funds, the Windom teens were also offered an opportunity to travel to Holland and Germany next summer for the International Flower Market. A portion of the trip is funded by the National FFA.

“Holland is a central hub for floral design and there’s going to be some incredibly talented people there,” Scott said. The team would like to make the trip.

Before they make travel plans, Scott, Muller and Schutz are already looking ahead to another year of competition - on a new CDE team. As national champions in the Floriculture CDE, they aren’t allowed to compete in that contest again.

Mum’s the word on which CDE they plan to conquer.

Muller has competed with the Ag Sales CDE in the past, so she’s weighing her option to return to that team or strike out on a new adventure with Scott and Schutz.

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“I’d like to stay with this team,” said Schutz. “They’re a wonderful group of people.”

“We’d love to have two teams make it to nationals,” chimed in Scott.

Other CDE results and honors from the area include:

Food Science and Technology CDE: sixth place, Jackson County Central. Team members include Jessica Christoffer, Sara Holmberg, Sofie Stumpf and Hailey Handevidt. They were coached by Laura Bidne and Danielle Jorgensen. For their sixth-place finish, they were awarded an all-expense-paid trip to the International Production & Processing Expo in Atlanta, Ga.

Environmental Science CDE: 17th place, Jackson County Central. Team members include Michaela Kellner (ninth individual), Eli Edlin (12th individual), Brian Drexler and Carter Olson. They were coached by Jeff Voss and Phil Nasby.

American FFA Degree recipients: Marcus Hinkeldey, Jackson County Central; Juliana Pederson, Westbrook-Walnut Grove; Madelyn Regier, Mountain Lake; Katie Rogers, Worthington; and Spencer Wolter, Windom

FFA Creed Speaking: Jordann Schneekloth, Jackson County Central, national semi-finalist (Top 16).

Related Topics: EDUCATIONAGRICULTURE
Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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