Dakota Farmer

Past VP: FFA 'was my life'

South Dakota’s state veterinarian shares how FFA inspired him to meet his goals.

Kevin Schulz, Editor

June 2, 2021

4 Min Read
Unrecognizable veterinary doctor working on diary
FFA REFLECTIONS: “FFA helped me to develop a career goal of becoming a veterinarian,” says Dustin Oedekoven, South Dakota FFA vice president in 1995-96.Halfpoint/Getty Images

Editor’s note: This is the fourth story in an eight-part series on catching up with the South Dakota state FFA officer team 25 years after their retiring addresses.

Each year, the state FFA organization elects a slate of officers to lead youth for a year. This team spends the year visiting FFA chapters across the state. Here, we get caught up with Dustin “Dusty” Oedekoven, who served as vice president of the 1995-96 state officer team.

Name: Dusty Oedekoven, vice president

High school: Sturgis Brown High

Parents: Dan and Dixie Oedekoven

dusty-ffa-0531W1-1301B.jpgFOND MEMORY: One of Dustin Oedekoven’s favorite FFA memories was to see the culmination of so much work come together during his senior year banquet.

FFA involvement: American FFA Degree, State Vice President, Chapter president, District office; participated in Conduct of Meetings (parliamentary procedure), Public Speaking, Extemporaneous Speaking, Ag Issues, Ag Sales, Livestock judging, range judging and meats judging, FFA leadership camp, state and national conventions, and Legislative breakfast. Really it was my life — too much to recall all of it!

When did you set your sights on attaining a state office? I recall being inspired as a freshman by my adviser and senior members of my chapter. That inspiration developed into a goal that I made a priority.

Did someone inspire you to spread your wings in FFA? Did someone see the leadership potential in you? Who was it? I have many people to thank for encouraging me to take advantage of the diverse leadership opportunities available in FFA. Above all, I am grateful to my parents for their full and unconditional love and support. If they ever saw a ceiling to my leadership potential, I didn’t know it.

My ag adviser had previously guided several FFA members to state officer teams, not only in South Dakota, but in other states as well. He skillfully applied that recipe to developing me to be ready to take advantage of the opportunity, and I was encouraged by other members from my chapter, as well as state officer teams that served while I was an active member. I became aware of the potential impact that a state officer has on the lives of members, and soon after also recognized the tremendous responsibilities of the office.

Immediate post-high school plan: FFA helped me to develop a career goal of becoming a veterinarian. I completed a Bachelor of Science in agricultural science at South Dakota State University and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State University.

Career: South Dakota state veterinarian and executive secretary of the South Dakota Animal Industry Board

How has the FFA experience aided you in your career and adult life? As an FFA member, I developed a career goal of becoming a veterinarian. What I did not expect or plan for is that my veterinary career would build so heavily on the experiences, relationships and leadership skills that I learned in FFA.

Would you be where you are today without FFA? I had a solid agricultural upbringing where I was involved in FFA, 4-H and other related activities. I’m driven by curiosity and a desire to serve others. I believe I am where God wills me to be, and certainly FFA has been a significant part of that plan. FFA has helped me thrive where I am today.

Favorite FFA memory: I have so many great memories of my time as an FFA member. Some of the best were with my state officer team, but one memory that stands out is the chapter banquet of my senior year. I think it was one of the first big milestones of my life where I was able to reflect on a culmination of hard work, dedication and teamwork.

Advice to a current FFA member, or a student deciding on an organization: No organization I know of combines leadership development, career skills, and practical classroom and hands-on learning like FFA. The benefits of FFA are limited only by your level of imagination and effort. Get involved and enjoy all there is to learn from FFA!

Spouse, children: Wife Jenn and children Morgan, Madison, Alex, Sarah and Gabe

For past stories in the series, see:

About the Author(s)

Kevin Schulz

Editor, The Farmer

Kevin Schulz joined The Farmer as editor in January of 2023, after spending two years as senior staff writer for Dakota Farmer and Nebraska Farmer magazines. Prior to joining these two magazines, he spent six years in a similar capacity with National Hog Farmer. Prior to joining National Hog Farmer, Schulz spent a long career as the editor of The Land magazine, an agricultural-rural life publication based in Mankato, Minn.

During his tenure at The Land, the publication grew from covering 55 Minnesota counties to encompassing the entire state, as well as 30 counties in northern Iowa. Covering all facets of Minnesota and Iowa agriculture, Schulz was able to stay close to his roots as a southern Minnesota farm boy raised on a corn, soybean and hog finishing farm.

One particular area where he stayed close to his roots is working with the FFA organization.

Covering the FFA programs stayed near and dear to his heart, and he has been recognized for such coverage over the years. He has received the Minnesota FFA Communicator of the Year award, was honored with the Minnesota Honorary FFA Degree in 2014 and inducted into the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame in 2018.

Schulz attended South Dakota State University, majoring in agricultural journalism. He was also a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and now belongs to its alumni organization.

His family continues to live on a southern Minnesota farm near where he grew up. He and his wife, Carol, have raised two daughters: Kristi, a 2014 University of Minnesota graduate who is married to Eric Van Otterloo and teaches at Mankato (Minn.) East High School, and Haley, a 2018 graduate of University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She is married to John Peake and teaches in Hayward, Wis. 

When not covering the agriculture industry on behalf of The Farmer's readers, Schulz enjoys spending time traveling with family, making it a quest to reach all 50 states — 47 so far — and three countries. He also enjoys reading, music, photography, playing basketball, and enjoying nature and campfires with friends and family.

[email protected]

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