Jeff Hicken, 47, of Waupun, Wis., died June 18 at University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison following medical complications.
He was born Feb. 1, 1974, in Fond du Lac, Wis., to Pat and Margaret Hicken. Following his graduation from Lomira High School, Hicken went on to serve on the Wisconsin FFA officer team as state sentinel. After completing his year of service, he attended UW-River Falls, majoring in agricultural education. While at school he met the love of his life, Sheri Holt. Sheri was also a state FFA officer and is a former Alice in Dairyland. The couple married on July 24, 1999.
Hicken followed his passion for agricultural education to Sauk Prairie High School, where he served as the agricultural education instructor for nearly eight years. Hicken dedicated himself to the program, the FFA chapter, his students and the community. He often began class by saying, “Without agriculture …” to which his students would respond, “there is nothing.”
Hicken was recognized time and again for his many accomplishments as a teacher, including being named Wisconsin High School Teacher of the Year and receiving the Herb Kohl Teacher Fellowship Award and Wisconsin Association of Agricultural Educators’ Outstanding Young Member Award.
State FFA advisor
Desiring to do more for agricultural education and FFA in Wisconsin, Hicken accepted a position as Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources education consultant and state FFA advisor with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. In this role, he helped to implement and evaluate curriculum, supported agricultural education instructors across the state and nationally, and advised the Wisconsin FFA officer team — a responsibility which brought him great joy.
Gov. Tony Evers, who was the Wisconsin superintendent of schools prior to serving as Wisconsin governor, worked with Hicken at DPI.
“Kathy and I send our prayers and condolences to Sheri, Cole and Drew,” Evers said in a statement released on June 21. “Jeff and I were colleagues and friends. He was a great educator and leader. I loved making school visits with Jeff. The kids and teachers we met recognized his caring demeanor immediately. I will never forget the great times at the Wisconsin FFA summer conventions. I know my fond memories are multiplied many times for his family, who he talked about often. So sorry for your loss.”
Hicken had a heart for service and participated in numerous coalitions, committees and boards, including the Wisconsin Farm Technology Days board of directors, National FFA Foundation board of Ttustees, National Association of State Supervisors of Agriculture Education board of directors, AgrAbility of Wisconsin Advisory Council, and School for Agricultural and Environmental Studies (SAGES) Foundation Board.
His legacy lies in family: his wife of 21 years, Sheri, and their two sons, Cole and Drew, as well as in the many lives he touched over the years. Together with his family, he enjoyed sharing his faith with the congregations at Salem United Methodist in Fond du Lac and Emmanuel Waupun. His greatest joy was attending his boys’ many activities — especially their athletic events. He would often be found cheering them on from the sidelines. He also enjoyed sharing many laughs with his friends and family, fishing, deer hunting and golfing.
Hicken is further survived by his parents, Pat and Margaret Hicken; brother, John (Bobbi) Hicken; mother-in law and father-in-law, Tom and Agnes Holt; brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, Travis (Ellen) Holt, Scott (Sheri) Holt, Aaron (Jeana) Holt, Shana (Tim) Johnson, and Brandon (Myra) Holt; as well as many nieces and nephews.
Celebration of life
A celebration of Hicken’s life will be held June 26 at Waupun Area Junior-Senior High School at 801 E. Lincoln St. from 2 to 3 p.m. Friends and relatives may call on the family at the high school from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and again following the service from 3 to 5 p.m. The funeral service will be livestreamed on Werner-Harmsen’s Funeral Home Facebook page.
The family extends its gratitude to the staff at St. Mary’s Hospital and UW Hospital, both in Madison, for their compassionate care of Hicken in his final weeks.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund will be established in the future. Please make all memorial contributions to the “Family of Jeff Hicken.” Memorial contributions can be sent to National Exchange Bank & Trust, P.O. Box 151, Waupun, WI 53963.