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November 16, 2001

UW-RF Students Win Awards at FFA Convention

Students from UW-River Falls won national championships in two competitions at the 74th National FFA Convention, held in Louisville, Ky., recently. Another UW-RF student was a category winner in a competition held at the convention, and two students were presented with National Association of Agriculture Educators Scholarships.

Approximately 50,000 people, mostly high school students, attended the convention, according to agriculture education Professor James Graham, who also serves as chair of the agricultural education department at UW-RF. About 200 of the attendees were university-level students and their advisors, from 22 institutions.

Graham was accompaniedby agricultural education Assistant Professor Timothy Buttles accompanied the 16 students from UW-RF who attended. The 2001 National Collegiate Agricultural Education Conference and a conclave for Alpha Tau Alpha, an honorary organization for agricultural education majors, were held at the convention. These two groups sponsored the competitions for college students.

The four-student Alpha Tau Alpha debate team from UW-RF took first place with a discussion on the topic, "Training in agriculture mechanics should be dropped from teacher preparation programs in agricultural education." The teamıs opponents were from the University of Florida, University of Missouri, Oklahoma State and Northwest Missouri State.

UW-RF student team members included Arlaina Gonske, a senior from Rice Lake majoring in agricultural education; Jill Schaffner, a junior from Fountain City majoring in marketing communication; Wendy Kannel, a junior from Spring Valley majoring in agricultural education; and Brad Berger, a freshman from Bonduel majoring in agricultural education.

Lanette Weiner, a senior from Sparta majoring in agricultural education, took first place in the Alpha Tau Alpha essay contest with her response to the question, "At the local level, how should we educate the general public on the need for secondary school programs in agricultural education?"

Mary Handrich, a senior from Weyauwega majoring in agricultural education, was the winner in one of four categories for the Program of Excellence awards. Handrich won first place in the "fellowship" category with her two-part entry, consisting of a written summary of activities and an oral presentation.

Two of the 15 students who received National Association of Agricultural Educators scholarships worth $800 each were from UW-RF. Recipients were Arlaina Gonske and Leah Schliep, a senior from Zumbrota, Minn., majoring in agricultural education. The award is given each year to juniors, seniors or fifth-year students studying agricultural education.

Four other students, all agricultural education majors, competed in Quiz Bowl, answering questions on the subjects of technical agriculture, professional education and agricultural education organizations. The UW-RF team, consisting of Christine Carrier, a senior from Saukville; Chris Ritscher, a freshman from Alma; Joel Kuehnhold, a junior from Wisconsin Rapids; and Beth Zuelke, a junior from Stratford, placed a close second in its first round.

Graham expressed pride in the accomplishments of the students, particularly because they competed with some schools that are much larger than UW-RF. "We are competing on a national scale with major universities and we are winning," he said.

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