Alden-Conger welcomes national FFA president

Published 9:03 pm Thursday, February 22, 2018

School one of a handful across the state to host the president

ALDEN — As part of National FFA Week this year, Alden-Conger was one of a handful of locations across Minnesota chosen to host the organization’s national president Thursday morning.

Each of the six national FFA officers have traveled to six different states across the United States to celebrate the week. Minnesota’s FFAs chapters are a part of eight regions. FFA National President Breanna Holbert said she hopes to hit all eight regions in Minnesota, but has visits planned to seven.

According to Holbert, a national officer will visit Minnesota every nine years. Alden-Conger FFA adviser Pam Koenen said this is the first time in her 27 years as an adviser that a national officer has come to Alden-Conger’s school.

“She is literally the face of FFA and she came to, she came to rural America,” said senior Alden-Conger FFA Chapter President Brett Neel. “She came to Alden. I mean, that’s very significant to us.”

Alden-Conger FFA members and students pose with National FFA President Breanna Holbert, third from the left in the front row, Thursday morning after she spoke to an assembled FFA group. – Sarah Kocher/Albert Lea Tribune

Holbert spoke to attendees about her experience starting with FFA and led activities about balance and time management. According to Holbert, a student at Chico State majoring in agricultural education, she got started in FFA at the encouragement of an agriculture teacher.

“I was not a part of agriculture,” she said of her life before FFA.

Holbert raised chickens in her sister’s bedroom for eight months before setting them up outside and then selling their eggs.

She used her experience trying something new with FFA to encourage students to believe in themselves.

“The thing that you can do is stop telling yourself that you can’t,” she said.

Koenen said she invited FFA alumni to attend as well as current FFA students from Alden-Conger. Area school FFAs also attended, including students from United South Central High School, Albert Lea High School and NRHEG High School, as well as students from New Ulm, Blooming Prairie and Owatonna.

“Hopefully from the message here today, they leave and think, ‘I’m going to try one thing,’” Holbert said. FFA and agriculture serves a lot of people, and it can’t do that if people are not pushing themselves, she said.

Koenen said she hoped the visit would challenge and motivate her students to think about how they can continue forward within FFA, and to continue sharing about their experience in FFA with their peers.

“We try to get everyone to have the chance that we’ve been gifted with,” senior FFA member Sydney Chicos said.

About Sarah Kocher

Sarah covers education and arts and culture for the Tribune.

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