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Going for the gold: Area teams do well at National FFA Convention

Braden Rempel, Mountain Lake FFA, earned first place individual in the Forestry judging contest at the National FFA Convention last week in Indianapolis, Ind. (Submitted photo)1 / 4
Mountain Lake FFA's second place winning Forestry CDE team includes Braden Rempel, Sierra Pankratz, Kyla Perkins, Noah Rempel and Advisor Stephen Funk. (Submitted photo)2 / 4
Mountain Lake FFA Floriculture CDE team members include David Hall (from left), Alejandro Hernandez, Advisor Lindsey Brockberg, Madison Dahna and Emmanuel Fentanez. (Submitted photo)3 / 4
Members of the Mountain Lake FFA Nursery-Landscape CDE team are Emilee Xayanourom (from left), Delainey Janzen, Carly Osland and Jareya Harder. (Submitted photo)4 / 4

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — A Mountain Lake FFA member is a national champion after besting members of 38 other teams in the Forestry Career Development Event (CDE) at the National FFA Convention last week in Indianapolis.

Braden Rempel ran away with the top spot —  according to his coach and FFA advisor, Stephen Funk — winning the contest with 32 points more than the second-place finisher. He was the top student in the skills portion of the contest, which entails job-specific skills a forester would need in the woods, such as identification of wood and tree specimens, measurement of trees, determining compass bearings and measuring distance by pacing over rough terrain.

“This is the hardest area of the contest to excel at, and Braden did a tremendous job,” Funk said.

Rempel’s brother, Noah, was also on the team, placing 23rd individually. Other team members included Sierra Pankratz (27th) and Kyla Perkins (70th). Together, the team took second place in the nation.

This is the second time in three years Mountain Lake has had a Forestry CDE team advance to nationals — and garner second place at the National FFA Convention. The 2015 team also included a Rempel — Braden and Noah’s older brother, Caleb. Caleb attended the national convention last week to support his brothers.

For his first-place finish individually, Braden Rempel received a plaque and a $1,000 cash prize, which he intends to use toward his college education. He plans to attend college for computer engineering.

Rempel competed on the chapter’s Forestry CDE since his freshman year of high school, earning a trip to compete at the Minnesota FFA Convention in each of the past three years.

“It was a good experience,” Rempel said of the Forestry CDE, giving a nod to his teammates for all of the study and preparations they put into being a top competitor.

“Everyone worked hard and we all contributed to second place as a team,” he added.

The Mountain Lake team was among five in the area to place in the top five in CDE contests during the national convention. Others included Windom’s Agronomy CDE team earning third; and Jackson County Central (JCC) Agriculture Sales and Agriculture Mechanics CDE teams taking third and fourth, respectively.

Following is a list of those, and other, teams from the region that competed:

Agronomy, Windom, third-place team: Dakota Scott (sixth individually), Victoria Schultz (eighth), and Ethan Johnson and Megan Wiebe, each with gold rankings.

Agriculture Sales, JCC, third-place team: Sarah Holmberg (15th), Jessica Christoffer (21st), Hailey Handevidt (27th) and Isaac Johnson (38th).

Agriculture Mechanics, JCC, fourth-place team: Andrew Tusa (fifth), $700 award; Ean Hohenstein (11th), $400 award; Erik Rose (32nd); Lee Drahota, silver rating.

Floriculture, Mountain Lake, fourth-place team: Emmanuel Fentanez Sifuentes (20th), Madison Dahna (23rd), David Hall (27th) and Alejandro “Alex” Hernandez (39th).

Meats Evaluation, JCC, ninth-place team: Cheyenne Minniss (27th); Emily Stubbe (31st); and Abby Ignaszewski, silver rating.

Nursery/Landscape, Mountain Lake, 11th-place team: Jareya Harder (17th), and Delainey Janzen, Carlene Osland and Emilee Xayanourom with silver ratings.

Poultry, JCC, 20th-place team: Nathan Dose (21st); Luke Russell and Matt Mohning, silver rating; and Isaac Dunlavey, bronze rating.

Livestock Evaluation, JCC, 26th place team: Parker Benda (27th); Jordann Schneekloth (50th); Sophia Lovell, silver rating; Nathaniel Post, bronze rating.

Dairy Cattle Handler: Ian VanderWal, Pipestone Area, silver rating.

Also during the convention, the American FFA Degree was presented to members meeting the qualifications. In this region, degree recipients included Ally Ringeisen, JCC; Bailey Leaman, Mountain Lake; Miranda Dreesen, George-Little Rock; and Jacob Agena, Andrew Marco, Matthew Naig, Kyle Peters, Riane Vickery, Colby Wagenaar, Haley Wollmuth, Collin Van Diepen, Adam Ackerman, Devin Ackerman, Cody Matthiesen and Josh Wagenaar, all of Sibley-Ocheyedan.

JCC FFA Advisor and agriculture instructor Laura Bidne was also presented the Honorary American Degree during the 91st National FFA Convention.

More than 69,000 registered members, advisors and guests attended the convention. The annual event features convention sessions, leadership workshops and the world’s largest career expo.

“Our students also toured the Ozark Fish Hatchery, Hoosier Park Racetrack and Beasley’s Orchard,” Bidne said of the JCC contingent. “They received a firsthand look at a variety of agriculture industries. Students were able to attend the Garth Brooks concert, the World’s Toughest Rodeo and the hypnotist at convention as well.

“All of our students represented Jackson County Central and Minnesota FFA very well. We are very proud of them,” she added.

Mountain Lake FFA Advisor Lindsey Brockberg, who coached the chapter’s Floriculture CDE team commended members for the amount of time they put in to accomplish their goal.

“I am so proud of these students and the rest of the students that attended attended National FFA Convention (whether) on a team, national band and choir and delegates,” Brockberg said. “Also, a huge thank you to the parents and all their support.”

“Our FFA members work so hard to achieve their success,” added Funk. “On the national level, we go up against bigger schools that have more resources and larger budgets, but the grit and determination of our members in Mountain Lake help them to stand out and achieve success.”

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at The Farm Bleat

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