School Name and Chapter Name: Southwestern FFA Chapter, Southwestern Wisconsin High School, Hazel Green.
Adviser: Katylynn Heisz.
Courses offered: Seventh-Grade Ag, Eighth-Grade Ag, Introduction to Agriculture, Plant Science, Soil Science, Animal Science 1 and 2, Food Science 1 and 2, Leadership, and Agribusiness.
Chapter officers: Kailee Kaiser, president; Christopher Schneider, vice president; Keylee Dreessens, secretary; Hope Przybylski, treasurer; Ray Runde, reporter; and Alex Runde, sentinel.
How many members do you have in your chapter and what year was it established? Established in 2012, the chapter has 40 members out of 244 total students in grades 7-12.
What are some chapter highlights (activities, membership, awards)? Highlights include trick-or-treat for the food pantry, a winter clothing drive, fall fruit sale and spring strawberry and coffee sale, FFA Week activities and pep assembly, and Drive Your Tractor to School Day.
What are some recent accomplishments? Accomplishments include continuously growing membership.
What are your chapter plans or goals for the year? The chapter’s membership goal for the year is 50 members. They also would like to have five students fill out state-level award applications in various areas. Finally, they would like to continue to make their chapter known in the community through activities such as a pancake breakfast or other new community service projects.
What activities have you done within your school to promote FFA, agriculture and leadership? Each year, the chapter has an FFA float in the Homecoming parade. They also send shout-outs of things happening in the FFA and ag classroom through the school social media outlets. Mrs. Heisz is persuading students to get out of their comfort zone and try new things each year, as well as tapping students in which she sees potential to get involved in just one activity each year.
How does your FFA chapter impact the community? The FFA allows those students that aren’t in sports to become involved in something. Students are proud of their agricultural background, as many come straight from the farm and like having a way to show it to the community. There are no requirements for students to become involved in FFA, but many times, it is a “monkey see, monkey do” attitude, with one member starting and many following. The chapter has had a rough time finding their “place” in the community as, being without FFA for many years, other organizations picked up the pieces and took on extra duties. Now that the chapter is back, they don’t want to step on any toes but rather, find new avenues to fill needs.
Where do you see the chapter in 10 years? In 10 years, the chapter, hopefully, will have found its place in the community. They hope that their Program of Activities is more stable and that the plans for each activity are set, with only minor tweaks needed. They would like to see at least one member each year on the stage at the State FFA Convention being recognized for their accomplishments in the agriculture world.
Tell us something that’s unique about your FFA chapter: Southwestern is a young chapter that is still learning, growing and taking time to experience things to determine where they fit in the big picture of FFA. Another unique thing about their agriculture department, in general, is that they have a functioning dairy farm right outside the door that has invited them to use it as wanted or needed for educational purposes.