Benton FFA degree recipients

American Degree Recipients were honored during the 2020 virtual banquet. From left to right are Chase Kusel, Shelby Karr, Blaine Volesky, Carl Gerhold IV, Carly Selken and Brice Hodnefield.

Holding an Annual Banquet is a long standing tradition for the Benton Community FFA Chapter. This year looked a little different in light of COVID-19. The chapter was unable to hold our usual meal and banquet ceremony, but instead honored members through a slideshow that was shared on social media. Members were recognized for their leadership, participation, and projects. A complete summary of the awards presented and the accomplishments of the award recipients follows:

Star Awards

Kait Ballard was named the 2020 Star Greenhand. The 2020 chapter-level star award winner was Will Schmidt– Star in Ag Placement and Landon Siek — Star Farmer. Each of the Chapter Stars received an engraved plaque and pin.

Leadership Award

The Leadership Award honors members for their overall involvement in FFA. Each FFA member keeps track of their participation in chapter meetings, committee meetings, community service projects, leadership conferences, contests, and other FFA activities. Earning a bronze were Elijah Kaiser, Cameron Keiper, Raegan Junge, Mercedes Meyer, Andria Stull, Jacob Refstie, Kaden Meyer, Addison Phillips, Hanna Coffland, Marissa Parizek, Ethan Hudson, and Jayden McClintock. Earning a silver were Oscar Schadt, Mackenzie Bruns, Caden Erger, Zach Strasser, Lee Schoenmann, Andrew Hudson, Ashlyn Erger, Justin Engelking. Earning a gold were Rhylee Stone, Emma Von Ahsen, Easton Patterson, Ellie Karr, Emma Metz, Mackenzie Kvam, Raynee LaGrange, Abbie Kaestner, Alex Ludeking, Justin Bierschenk, Trinity LaGrange, Mya Meyer, Ryan Grace, Zach Grace, Dylan Bossler, Garrett Coffland, Kohle Ballard, Jacob Ludeking, Jessica Crawford, Megan Schulte, Karsyn Semelroth, Keaten Volesky, Will Schmidt, Emily Ingalls, Quintin Volesky, Kait Ballard, and Tyler Atkinson. The Premier Leadership Award was presented to the top five FFA members in points from participation in the year’s activities. The point leaders were Ellie Karr, Will Schmidt, Keaten Volesky, Garrett Coffland and Dylan Bossler. Dylan Bossler received the Outstanding Leadership Award as the top FFA member in points for the 2019-2020 school year. Officers are exempt from being considered for the Outstanding Leadership Award. The officer with the most points receives the Outstanding Officer Award. This year’s winner was Raynee LaGrange.

Outstanding Class Awards

Every year one dedicated member is recognized from each class. These members are selected based on their involvement in activities through their points, the variety of activities they participate in and the quality of their banquet application. This year’s winners were Keaten Volesky – Freshman, Trinity LaGrange – Sophomore, and Garrett Coffland – Junior.

Scholarship Awards

The scholarship award is given on the basis of scholastic achievement in agricultural classes as well as overall performance in other classes. FFA members receive this honor for having a 3.5 GPA or higher and fill out a banquet application. Scholarship award winners received a Scholarship Pin for their FFA jacket. Those achieving this distinction were: Abbie Kaestner, Dylan Bossler, Jacob Ludeking, Emma Metz, Hannah Hansen, Tyler Atkinson, Megan Schulte and Quintin Volesky, Abby Wendel, Alex Ludeking, Andrew Hudson, Ayriana Veerhusen, Ethan Hudson, Kohle Ballard, Mya Meyer, Owen Sadler, Raynee LaGrange, Riley Curtis, Trinity LaGrange, Addison Phillips, Andria Stull, Brandon Schultz, Cameron Keiper, Easton Patterson, Emma Von Ahsen, and Kaitlyn Ballard.

Senior Awards

Abbie Kaestner was named the Outstanding Senior FFA Member for her outstanding participation and service to the FFA chapter and received a plaque. Jacob Ludeking was named the DeKalb’s Senior Agricultural Accomplishment Award winner. For this honor, he received a lapel and plaque.

Four seniors were presented college scholarships from the FFA Chapter and Benton Community FFA Alumni. Abbie Kaestner received a $600 college scholarship sponsored by the Benton Community FFA Parent & Alumni Association. Also receiving scholarships sponsored by the Benton Community FFA Parent and Alumni Association were Jacob Ludeking- $550, Will Schmidt — $300 and Dylan Bossler — $200. This year the Chapter Scholarship winners were Abbie Kaestner — $500, Jacob Ludeking — $300 and Will Schmidt — $200.

Proficiency Awards

Proficiency awards are based on the Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) program conducted by each student outside of regular class time. Students earning a proficiency award received an official certificate.

Proficiency Award Winners for 2020 were as follows: Ag Mechanics and Fabrication Placement – Quintin Volesky, Ag Mechanics Repair and Maintenance Placement – Quintin Volesky, Ag Services Placement – Alex Ludeking, Beef Production Placement – Abbie Kaestner. Beef Production Entrepreneurship – Landon Siek, Dairy Production Placement – Hannah Hansen, Diversified Ag Production Placement – Garrett Coffland, Diversified Crop Production Placement – Brandon Schutz, Diversified Livestock Production Placement – Tyler Atkinson, Equine Science Placement – Jessica Crawford, Fiber and Oil Crop Placement – Caden Erger, Forage Production Placement – Dylan Bossler, Grain Production Placement – Cameron Keiper, Home and Community Development Placement – Jacob Ludeking, Landscape Management Placement – Addison Phillips, Nursery Operation Placement – Ayriana Veerhusen, Outdoor Recreation Placement – Jacob Nekvinda, Poultry Production Placement – Andria Stull, Poultry Production Entrepreneurship – Kaitlyn Ballard, Service Learning Placement – Emma Metz, Sheep Production Placement – Emma Von Ahsen, Small Animal Production & Care Placement – Avary McVay, Small Animal Production & Care Entrepreneurship – Kaitlyn Ballard, Specialty Animal Entrepreneurship – Zach Grace, Swine Production Placement –Will Schmidt, Swine Production Entrepreneurship – Ellie Karr, Turf Grass Management Placement – Hunter Howe.

Top Fruit Sales

This year the chapter recognized the top five fruit salespeople for the 2019 fruit sale campaign. The annual fruit sales is the biggest fundraiser for the chapter and without the chapter members going out and selling, we would not be able to provide the great experiences and opportunities for our members. This year’s top five fruit salespeople are 1st – Ellie Karr; 2nd – Megan Schulte; 3rd – Justin Bierschenk; 4th – Abbie Kaestner; and 5th – Karsyn Semelroth.

Member of the Month Recognition

Member of the month winners are chosen based on the activities they had participated in the previous month. Members have their pictures displayed throughout the month in the ag ed classroom. The members of the month were: September – Garrett Coffland, October – Will Schmidt, November – Dylan Bossler, December – Emma Metz, January – Quintin Volesky, February – Keaten Volesky, March – Emily Ingalls, April – Kait Ballard.

Outstanding Record Book Awards

Member’s record books were judged on how thorough their SAE record books were. The judges looked at accuracy, organization, and detail of the information in the record books. They also made sure they had supplemental materials such as FFA Activities and skills learned from their projects. This year’s winners were Garrett Coffland, Jacob Ludeking, and Garrett Coffland. The Outstanding Record Book winners received a certificate and a glass trophy.

Benton Community FFA Hall of Fame Induction

The Benton Community FFA Hall of Fame recognizes our FFA members at the top levels of accomplishment in our organization. State champions in leadership or judging contests, Iowa and American FFA Degrees, District and State FFA Officers, and other FFA members who achieve distinction at the state and national levels are inducted into the Hall of Fame, which is a permanent display in Benton’s Ag Ed classroom.

Individual members installed into the Hall of Fame were Tyler Atkinson, Garrett Coffland, Jacob Ludeking, Landon Siek, and Quintin Volesky for earning their Iowa FFA Degrees.

American Degree Recipients

The American Degree is the highest degree in the FFA organization. This past year the following members were honored in Indianapolis, Indiana: Carl Gerhold IV, Josh Haerther, Brice Hodnefield, Shelby Karr, Chase Kusel, Carly Selken, and Blaine Volesky.

Newly Elected Officers

The new officer team consists of: Raynee LaGrange – President, Tyler Atkinson – Vice President, Emily Ingalls – Secretary, Trinity LaGrange – Treasurer, Alex Ludeking – Sentinel, Mya Meyer –Reporter, Kait Ballard –Reporter and Keaten Volesky – Officer-At-Large.

Members were asked about their thoughts on the virtual banquet. Sophomore Trinity LaGrange stated, “I was really looking forward to walking on the stage to be recognized and retire as Secretary. I hope that next year we can return to normal.” Freshman Keaten Volesky said, “Being a freshman, I am not really sure what a banquet is supposed to be but I was glad we were able to put a video together for our members to be recognized. I look forward to seeing what it’s all about next year.” Senior Karsyn Semelroth added, “My senior year was cut short due to Covid 19. It was heartbreaking. Spending four years in FFA and watching three end of the year banquets meant so much to me. To not be able to have my senior year banquet was tough, especially as an officer. Luckily we were able to do it virtually. Yes it was not the same, but to be able to still make it happen meant a lot to me. As much as I wish I could’ve stood on stage for the last time before retiring as an officer, I was still blessed to be able to be a part of something like that. FFA changed my life, and I will forever hold the memories I had during that time with me. We are an FFAmily!” Benton FFA members are excited to start working on this new school year and are hopeful we can have a normal banquet next spring.