Gillett FFA Alumni Meeting – You’re Invited

Hello Everyone,

Our first Gillett FFA Alumni meeting of the new school year will be at 7:30 in the ag room (105) on Thursday, September 6. We are hoping to discuss the following:

  • Gillett FFA Update
  • Gillett FFA Brat Fry/Open House – September 18
  • FIRE Conference – October 6
  • National FFA Convention, October 23-27
  • Request for updated FFA Handbooks and Student Manuals.
  • Formulating a plan for the alumni (How do we make the alumni meetings worthwhile? What additional events can we do to support the FFA AND agricultural education to educate and involve the community? What can you do to recruit others?)

Over the past few years we have gone through much change from the ag program being reduced in the number of classes being taught to welcoming in a new agriculture instructor and FFA advisor. There has been a group of alumni members that has voiced concern about the decrease of interest in students choosing agriculture classes over other classes and we have been trying to come up with ideas how we can make the agriculture program appeal to more students. This is also true for the Alumni Chapter; we have noticed a decrease in the amount of members attending each meeting and these members feel that it is time to take the Alumni Chapter to the next level.

We are always looking for new voices in the chapter with fresh ideas. We as a chapter would like to begin having an annual event in the fall opposite of the Alumni Auction. Some ideas that were bounced around were having a tractor show, lawn mower drags, or tours of local agricultural businesses; basically find another way to involve the community and promote local, state, and national agriculture.

In conclusion, I encourage you to attend our first meeting on Thursday, September 6th at 7:30pm in the Ag Room. Please bring your ideas and let your voice be heard.


Joshua Yonker
Gillett FFA Alumni President


Simpson Shows Up the Competition at the UP State Fair

Skhyler Simpson, Gillett FFA member, participated in the UP State Fair, August 13-19 in Escanaba, Mich. While at the fair, Skhyler demonstrated her knowledge of beef cattle while showing and interacting with fairgoers.

Skhyler received firsts for her beef steer and junior yearling heifer (hereford). She received seconds in fitting and showmanship and for market livestock recordkeeping.


Win an NFL Player Visit to YOUR Dairy Farm!

Not everyone that is in agriculture or FFA is on a dairy farm. However there is a unique opportunity for those that are invovled with dairy…

A new dairy check off photo contest is underway to show off how you, your family, your farm, and even your cows support your favorite NFL team or player.

Producers are invited to “capture your family’s pride for the dairy industry and support of your NFL team” by submitting a photo to the Show Your Pride photo contest. An NFL player will visit the dairy of the person who submitted the winning entry.

Past photos have shown cows dressed as football players and cheerleaders and the newest generation on a family’s dairy sporting a very large jersey. Last year, the winning photo showed how one young farmer has supported the Green Bay Packers his entire life, even bringing some of his team memorabilia to the barn for his photo shoot.

The contest ends Friday, Sept. 14.

The rules of the photo contest are simple: Get your family and employees in on the act by wearing your team’s jerseys and other gear. Send festive photos of your barn decorated in NFL colors, team banners or posters. Get your cows involved by covering them in a team blanket or some other tasteful gear. These photos will be posted to a public website for voting. Cows should be portrayed in a manner consistent with their natural environment that showcases your daily commitment to their comfort and care. The final step is to vote for your favorite photo. In mid-September, we’ll provide a link to the submitted photos and the public will judge. Remember to vote frequently. Previous winners aren’t eligible to win the contest again so that other dairy advocates have a chance to receive a visit from an NFL player.

Local dairy checkoff staff can assist with brainstorming or other photo contest needs. Producers can direct questions and submit photos through Sept. 14 to Scott Wallin at (

Good luck “showing your pride!”

Back to school: teen’s guide to sharing the farm story

Below is a great article that has easy to remember tips on how we can share not just the “farm” story, but let everyone know about agriculture. Advocacy isn’t just preaching to the choir, it’s letting the people we interact with everyday know about the importance of agriculture. This includes your friends, family, neighbors, etc. How will you tell the story of agriculture?

Click here to learn more about how to advocate for agriculture!

Back to school: teen’s guide to sharing the farm story
By Michele Payn-Knoper

The return to tardy slips, teachers and seeing your friends every day. Homework. Tests. Remembering to turn your phone off or face consequences. Friday night football games. Staring out windows and wishing you could work outside. If this sounds familiar, you’re likely a student that’s gone back to school or will in the next couple of weeks.  In celebration, I’ve written some thoughts for teenagers on how you can better share your agricultural story. Remember the six Cs!

Confidence Tera Koebel, a senior at Michigan State, spent a lot of time talking about her dairy farm days with non-ag friends in high school.  “As a teenager, ag kids can talk about the fun experiences they have playing on the farm and working with their tractors/animals, etc. They need to remember that most other kids simply have a couch and TV to go home to. If kids can be confident in portraying the chores and activities they do with agriculture in a positive light, it immediately puts things into a new perspective for their peers.”

Communications skills: Seem a little too obvious? Given the writing skills I’ve seen from young people at state and national contests, I can’t emphasize this enough. Learn how to spell and write. While you’re at it, speaking skills are kind of important – at least practice being able to stand in front of a room, state your idea and answer questions confidently. Writing and speaking may seem mundane, but they are skills that will serve you daily. No matter what your career is, you have to be able to communicate.  And while you’re learning writing and speaking skills through a class presentation, science fair project, essay or biology assignment, why not use something in agriculture as your subject?  It might make those assignments a little more fun for you – and it’s a great opportunity quietly practice sharing your ag story. The same is true online with your Facebook or other social accounts.

Cool factor: Are you a dork because you like horticulture, genetics, cows, agronomy, aquaculture, forestry, landscape design, agribusiness or tractors? Not unless you think so! Talk about what you do, be proud of it and who knows – showing cows may just become cool. Our dairy leasing project has mostly kids that live in town and many of them play sports. I see them out and about wearing their Boone County 4-H Dairy shirts with pride – and letting people know what they think is cool. Know that your actions speak louder than words. Koebel says being confident that ag is cool, not lame, is the best tip she can offer.

Clarity: Many FFA and 4-H members have been given a gift of experience, which can give you a lot more clarity about your future. If you love animals, don’t be shy about stating that you’ll be pursuing an animal science degree.  By the way, if you’re in the unfortunate situation where adults are telling you that there is no future in ag, be sure to show them information about the shortage of employees in agriculture or talk to them about 200+ agrifood careers. Your clarity, along with understanding the careers in your chosen sector of agriculture, will speak volumes to your classmates – and give you a leg up in college. If you have not found that clarity yet, keep searching – it’s critical for you to find a career you’re passionate about.

Conversation: Are you a little defensive about agriculture? Do you think people are stupid because they don’t the difference between a cow and a heifer or a combine and a chopper? Are you dumb because you don’t know the latest video game? Hopefully you can answer “no” to all of those, but I suspect not. Here’s the deal: if you’re defensive or a know-it-all, people aren’t going to be interested in conversing with you. If you approach others with an open mind and use two ears to learn, you’ll see great results. Caroline Knoblock just graduated from high school in Iowa and was very active in 4-H and FFA.  She said “Understand that some people literally do not know where their food comes from.”  Stacey Forshee is a mom to high schoolers in Kansas. “It’s hard for that age to not feel like someone is attacking them when they disagree with what do in agriculture. So I’ve told my kids that they need to calm down and have a conversation with those kids and see why they think what we do is wrong. Most of the time it’s a misconception! ”

Sharing your own story about agriculture doesn’t need to be difficult. The sixth C is CONVICTION. Do you have CONVICTION in how important it is for you to tell your story? About 1.5% of the population is involved on a farm or ranch – that leaves 98.5% to share with. You don’t have to pass college math to figure out that the odds are against agriculture if each of us doesn’t do our part. How will you use your voice?

Gillett FFA member to receive American FFA Degree

Congrats to Gillett FFA member Josh Yonker who was just notified that he will be receiving the American FFA Degree at the 2012 National FFA Convention in Indianapolis this fall. 

The American FFA Degree recognizes demonstrated leadership ability and outstanding achievements in agricultural business, production, processing or service programs. To be eligible, members must have earned and productively invested $7,500 through a supervised agricultural experience (SAE) program in which they start, own or hold a professional position in an existing agriculture enterprise and serve 50 community service hours. Recipients must also make it their mission to demonstrate outstanding leadership abilities and community involvement.

The Dairy Days of Summer

Gillett FFA members Abbey Horsens, Ryan Horsens and Michelle Kohls took part in the “dairy days of summer” at the Wisconsin State Fair August 2-5 in West Allis, Wis. They did a great job representing the Gillett FFA while showing their Holstein cattle.

  • Abbey Horsens exhibited a winter heifer calf and received a blue ribbon. She also showed a fall heifer calf which earned a red ribbon.
  • Ryan Horsens exhibited a fall yearling heifer and received a white ribbon.
  • Michelle Kohls exhibted a spring heifer calf and earned a white ribbon.

Showing off their dairy animals wasn’t the only thing that these three FFA members were up to at the fair. One of the most important tasks they have is communicating the importance of agriculture and the dairy industry with consumers. Check out the article from Hoard’s Dairyman on how Wisconsin dairy youth share important messages with fairgoers.