FFA adviser prolific at producing state officers

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 10, 2001

When Kim Meyer became Albert Lea Schools FFA advisor a handful of students in the club weren’t very active.

Thursday, May 10, 2001

When Kim Meyer became Albert Lea Schools FFA advisor a handful of students in the club weren’t very active. In the last 13 years, through hard work, caring and a lot of overtime, Meyer has turned the program into the premiere leadership chapter in the state.

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Meyer has advised 17 state officers since 1991 and two state presidents in the last four years, something many would consider an amazing accomplishment.

&uot;When we consistently win these awards, people ask me, ‘What’s in the water in Albert Lea? Meyer, how do you keep getting these good kids?’&uot; he said. &uot;I say, ‘I don’t know, they just keep coming.’&uot;

&uot;I know many ag teachers that haven’t advised a president or a state officer in 30 years,&uot; Meyer said.

On his desk is a quote from Henry Ford: &uot;You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.&uot; With 72 members, the Albert Lea intercurricular club is medium-sized, Meyer said. But members are extremely active.

About one-third of members will attend an intensive, week-long FFA camp this summer, he said. Many more will be involved in other projects, like state fair competitions.

This year, 22 of Meyer’s students interviewed for 9 chapter office positions, when other chapters had trouble filling the offices because of lack of interest, he said.

&uot;The people that don’t make it in our chapter could probably be an officer in another chapter,&uot; he said.

FFA National Organization of Agriculture students develop confidence and career experience that most students don’t have, Meyer said.

&uot;Our mission statement is basically to develop premiere leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education,&uot; he said. &uot;Our chapter is there, we’re doing that.&uot;

Only about 30 percent of Meyer’s FFA members live on a farm, and few will go into farming, so he focuses on skills that will be useful in agribusiness rather than production, he said. But he still tries to teach students a respect for farming and good stewardship.

Meyer was raised on a farm near Lake Mills, Iowa and studied agricultural education at Iowa State University. He got a Masters Degree from the University of Minnesota. He owns a 24-acre farm and 25 beef cows.

&uot;Less than 2 percent of the population farms, and that’s declining,&uot; he said. &uot;But I think it’s the most important job in the world. I’m very proud to be that small piece of the food chain.&uot;

Student, parent and community involvement has made the Albert Lea FFA program successful, he said. But Meyer’s dedication to students and love of agriculture have also been crucial.

&uot;He’s basically, besides my older sister, the one who caught me on to what I call the FFA fever,&uot; said Kellie Ladlie, past state reporter and region president. A junior at Iowa State University, Ladlie got a very competitive John Deere Scholarship this year because of her FFA leadership. She is now preparing to run for national officer.

&uot;I know that I’d be a completely different person if it wasn’t for FFA,&uot; Ladlie said. &uot;FFA has allowed me to recognize all the skills and talents I had within myself.&uot;