University of Wisconsin-River Falls

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Oct. 8, 2004

State FFA President Continues Family Tradition of Involvement
By: Jenny Bjelland
UW-RF News Bureau

While growing up in the small rural town of Gresham, Wis, UW-River Falls student Nicole Schmidt heard about FFA all her life. In fact, it was a bit of a family affair.

While her grandfather and father had been active FFA members during their high school years, Schmidt still wasn't sure if FFA was the right organization for her.

When she entered the 8th grade, her uncle Jason was a vice president for the Gresham Chapter FFA, and his encouragement lit a spark that has resulted in her new role as the 2004-05 Wisconsin State FFA President.

In high school, she served as Gresham Chapter FFA vice president of student development and as vice president of chapter development. She also served as a Wisconsin State FFA vice president.

This past June, Nicole Schmidt was named the state FFA president at the 75th Wisconsin FFA Convention. In addition, she has earned the FFA Greenhand Degree, Chapter Degree, State Degree, and will soon receive the prestigious American FFA Degree.

Serving as the Wisconsin FFA president is a dream job for Schmidt, and working directly with FFA members at various leadership workshops is her favorite part of the job. "The members are enthusiastic," says Schmidt. "They want to be there and they want to participate."

Schmidt says that enthusiasm is just what the state officers are hoping for as they try to accomplish their goal of raising the state FFA membership from 16,800 to 17,700 active members this year.

Agriculture is nothing new to Schmidt, as the dairy farm that she and her family live on has been in the family since 1879. Yet it wasn't until her first foray into FFA and then her junior year in high school when a few encouraging words from a visiting farm representative changed her perspective.

At UW-River Falls, Schmidt is majoring in agricultural business with a minor in animal science. She is balancing her busy life of college freshman and state FFA president by taking credits this year through online courses, honors programs, and internships. She hopes to one day hold a managerial position in an agribusiness and to possibly own a small calf-raising operation.

Schmidt's pride and excitement in agriculture and the national FFA organization is evident in her travels representing the organization. And true to her family's FFA legacy, she has shared this excitement with many individuals while serving in leadership positions in FFA, including her younger siblings. Her younger sister serves as a Gresham Chapter FFA Chapter vice president and just recently her younger brother, a 5th grader at Gresham Community School, told her that he would like to someday become a state FFA officer, too.

Schmidt says early and ongoing involvement in FFA helps members develop leadership skills, advance their education and enable them to become the agricultural industry leaders of the future.

"There are different opportunities out there for everyone," says Schmidt, "and FFA members should take advantage of the opportunities that FFA has to offer."


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