During last month's Wisconsin FFA Convention, the Wisconsin FFA Foundation announced a new record of annual funds raised to support Wisconsin FFA during the 2012-13 year. The final total of $414,555 was a $60,000 growth over the previous year, and nearly $15,000 more than the $400,000 goal.
"This growth couldn't come at a more crucial time," says Julie Larson, Wisconsin FFA Foundation Board president. "With Wisconsin FFA membership at a 29-year high and the growing career opportunities in agriculture, food and natural resources, these resources contributed by our generous donors are used to their fullest potential."
Evidence of this support was seen throughout the convention week. A "man on the street" video played during the third session highlighted some Foundation statistics in a peer-to-peer format for FFA members. One of the messages shared was that 100% of all funding support from the Foundation benefits local FFA members and chapters. Of that, nearly half goes directly to individual members and chapters as award checks, travel stipends, scholarships and grants. The other half supports the state level activities for local members to participate at little or no cost.
"We want all 19,000 Wisconsin FFA members to realize that all Foundation donors – everyone who contributes $5 to $30,000 – are helping them experience all of this great leadership training," says Sara Schoenborn, Wisconsin FFA Foundation Executive Director.
Schoenborn says that connecting the FFA members with the understanding of Foundation support is also the reason for starting the Convention Scholarship Fund this year. Unveiled at the third session, all convention attendees were invited to contribute to the fund on Wednesday and Thursday. By noon on Thursday, the fund had surpassed its goal by raising $503.60. The scholarship will be awarded to an FFA member in spring 2014.
"We plan to make this an annual part of the convention and hope we can provide a few scholarships each year as the idea grows. It's really exciting to imagine being that FFA member who is selected to receive the scholarship and knowing that it came from your peers," Schoenborn says.
Much of the credit for the Wisconsin FFA Foundation's success can be credited to its board of directors, who actively lead the Foundation's efforts and individually work to raise funds for FFA programs. The Foundation also announced its 2013-14 board of directors during the convention.
The 2013-2014 officers for the Wisconsin FFA Foundation Board of Directors include: President: Julie Larson, Merial, Ltd.; Vice President: Lori Lulich, Farm Journal Media; Secretary: Scott Vosters, DFA Financing; and Treasurer: Nick Hemling, Animart.
Additional 2013-2014 board members include: Richard Ammon, Milwaukee Area Technical College; Amber Bennett, Badgerland Financial; Travis Holt, Citizens Bank of Loyal; Jason Kollwelter, We Energies; Derrick Papcke, CRT Papcke Farms, LLC.; Janice Schyvink, Equity Cooperative Livestock Sales Association; Luke Wiedenfeld, Kraft Foods-Oscar Mayer; Tim Wyss, Retired Agricultural Education Instructor at Clear Lake; Mark Zidon, University of Wisconsin-Platteville; Jeff Zobeck, Wisconsin Association of Agricultural Educators; Ken Harter, Wisconsin FFA Alumni; Logan Wells, Wisconsin Association of FFA; Jeff Hicken, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction; and Cheryl Zimmerman, Wisconsin FFA Center.Retiring board members include: Kevin Bacon, Mondolez Int.; Dr. Rick Daluge, Emeritus Dean, University of Wisconsin-Madison Farm and Industry Short Course; Jane Griswold, Hoard's Dairyman; Christine Lindner, Flavorful Insights; Ed Peck, Filament Marketing, LLC; and Pat Sternitzky, USAgNet LLC.