West central Minnesota students earn honors at FFA state convention

Many area students earned awards at the FFA state convention. Two students were recipients of State Star awards.


WILLMAR β€” Area students were honored at the 2023 Minnesota FFA Convention last month.

More than 5,000 FFA members and guests from across the state participated in the convention April 23-25, according to the Minnesota FFA Assocation. Events were conducted on the University of Minnesota β€” Twin Cities campuses, the Minnesota State Fairgrounds and the St. Paul Pipefitters Training and Certification Center.

A full list of the students honored statewide is available on the Minnesota FFA website, The following are students and chapters from west central Minnesota who earned honors, according to information from the FFA:

State Star Awards

The State Star Awards are presented to the top individuals from four different supervised agricultural experience project categories.

State Star in Agriculture, Food and Natural Resource Sciences winner β€” Shae Fath, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg
State Star In Agribusiness winner β€” Jacob Walsh, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg


State FFA Degree

The state FFA State Degree is given to the top members of a state FFA association, and only 2 percent of Minnesota FFA members earn the degree. This degree demonstrates the student has put an exceptional amount of time into their supervised agricultural experience, local chapter and community.

Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa : Summer Lundberg, Grace Jackson, Teresa Heinze, Ethan Spanier

Hancock : Blake Koehl, Charles Koehl, Clark Koehl, Jackson Koehl

Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg : Julia Carlson, Shae Fath, Wyatt Hagen, Chase Hauge, Macy Rohner, Jacob Walsh, Tanner Wilts

Lac qui Parle Valley : Kalista Bormann, Lexi Gloege, Ben Mattocks

MACCRAY : Kayloni Dalle

New London-Spicer : Austin Hanson, Kaden Iverson, Myles Macik, Adriana Behl, Emery Gabrielson, Everett Halvorson, Sofia Lien, Kenneth Schmiesing, Ethan Spors


Paynesville Area : Dante Deppa

Renville County West : Sophie Geer, Rebecca Hendrickson

Willmar : Braeden Erickson, Isabelle Sauceda, David Thaden, Bethany Molash

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Proficiency Award

Supervised Agricultural Experience top three proficiency award winners from the region.

Agriscience Research, Integrated Systems: (1) Katelynn Marquardt, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg, (2) Shae Fath, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg

Agriscience Research, Animal Systems: (1) Madison Anderson, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg

Agricultural Services: (1) Jacob Walsh, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg


Diversified Crop Production, Entrepreneurship: (1) Connor Danielson, Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City

Forage Production: (2) Matthew Lingbeek, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg

Outdoor Recreation: (3) William Bugbee, Paynesville Area

Specialty Animal Production: (2) Zoey Dockter, Lac qui Parle Valley

Service-Learning: (1) Shae Fath, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg

Sheep Production: (3) Lexi Gloege, Lac qui Parle Valley

Turf Grass Management: (3) Courtney Fernholz, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg

Career/Leadership Development Award

Area students participated in career development events. Listed are area teams finishing in the top 10 and area students in the top 25 in each event.


Agricultural Mechanics β€” Team: (4) Willmar; Individual: (5) Dustin Seubert, Willmar; (9) Matt Aslagson, Hancock; (20) Derik Johnson, Willmar

Best Informed Greenhand β€” Individual: (9) Gaige Knisley, New London-Spicer

Companion Animal Science β€” Team: (9) Paynesville Area; Individual: )11) Rebekah Walz, Paynesville Area

Creed β€” Individual: (3) Tabitha Bjerketvedt, Hancock

Crops β€” Team: (6) Hancock; Individual: (21) Logan Metzger, Hancock; (25) Grant Henjum, New London-Spicer

Dairy Evaluation: Individual: (23) Aaron Jones, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg

Extemporaneous Speaking: (3) William Bugbee, Paynesville Area; (4) Lexi Gloege, Lac qui Parle Valley

Farm and Agribusiness Management β€” Team: (1) Hancock; Individual: (5) Jackson Koehl, Hancock; (8) Clark Koehl, Hancock; (13) Sam Mastey, Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa; (16) Blake Koehl, Hancock, (17) Kalista Bormann, Lac qui Parle Valley


Fish and Wildlife β€” Team: (2) New London-Spicer; (8) Paynesville Area; Individual: (2) Ethan Spors, New London-Spicer; (14) August Vanderweyst, Paynesville Area; (22) Kaden Iverson, New London-Spicer

Floriculture β€” Team: (3) Willmar; (4) Hancock; (6) New London-Spicer; Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg; Individual: (4) Moah Luthi, Hancock; (6) Isabell Sauceda; Willmar; (13) Raeann Holmquist, New London-Spicer; (14) Vivian Messner, Hancock; (17) Leslie Jimenez, Willmar; (23) Grace Gratton, New London-Spicer; (25) Thelma Benitez, Willmar

Meats Evaluation and Technology β€” Team: (8) New London-Spicer; Individual: (7) Adriana Behl, New London-Spicer

Nursery and Landscape β€” Team: (4) Hancock; Individual: (22) Kendra Koehl, Hancock

Parliamentary Procedure β€” Team: (1) Litchfield; (5) MACCRAY

Poultry Evaluation β€” Individual: (9) Riley Joyer, Litchfield

Prepared Public Speaking β€” Individual: (3) Taylor Bierwerth, Paynesville Area

Soils β€” Team: (10) Renville County West; Individual: (8) Josiah Seehusen, MACCRAY; (15) Cole Schliep, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg

In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: or phone 320-214-4340
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