The theme of the Colorado State FFA convention was just one word: Exceed. The convention challenged FFA members to exceed in all aspects of their lives, and that is exactly what the New Raymer FFA program did.
Led by adviser Casseday Lohr, the New Raymer FFA program brought home award winners in goat production, prepared speaking, and extemporaneous speaking, as well as state degree winners and a retiring officer address.
“I am so proud of these students. They have worked hard and their hard work definitely paid off. It is cool to watch them grow and develop and be successful as they compete at these events,” Lohr said.
The state proficiency winner in goat production was Megan Seltzer. Her supervised agriculture experience (SAE) includes raising and selling Boer goats.
“I started gathering animals for my SAE when I caught a goat at the county fair in the fourth grade. The Catch-it Program in Weld County is designed for young 4-H members to get involved in the livestock projects at fair. If you catch an animal, you were assigned a sponsor who gave you an animal at the first show of the season in April at the Weld County Goat Extravaganza, and they were a support structure for you all through the show season,” explained Seltzer. She continued, “The Knez family were my sponsors, and I honestly couldn’t have gotten luckier with my sponsors. They were so much help and were more than willing to answer any question I had.”
She now has a herd of 23 does, and she breeds and raises the kids to sell to other people to show around the country. “In the last couple of year I have had animals that have gone all the way to Arizona and clear up to Montana. My show string does have been to numerous local, state and national shows,” she said.
She loves raising livestock. “I really enjoy raising any sort of livestock, with the exception of pigs. I have been a farm kid ever since I was little. I was that little girl that was outside playing in the dirt with my tractors instead of inside playing with Barbie dolls. The older I have gotten the more I realize that animals can be some of your best friends,” she explained.
She enjoys showing, and the challenge that the competition brings. “When it comes to the show ring that’s when things get serious. To me it’s not all about the buckle, ribbons, and 15 minutes of fame, it’s about being there for my fellow exhibitors when they need a helping hand and being a role model for those younger members that will one day be in my shoes,” Seltzer stated.
She is currently in college, where she will be returning in the fall. “Right now I will be returning to NJC, where I will be finishing my Agriculture Education, Agriculture Communications, and Animal Science degrees. After NJC I plan to go to either Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas or Colorado State University and obtain my Bachelor’s degree and then go on to get my Master’s degree with some thought of a PhD in the future,” she said.
Prepping state winners in the two public speaking competitions took time and dedication. “We spent a lot of time giving speeches. We spent time in the classroom giving speeches after school got out and these students took the initiative to practice at home. This is what truly made them successful. When you go the extra mile, that is when you will succeed,” Lohr stated.
The speaking competitions were won by brothers Brady and Ross Stump. Brady Stump won the extemporaneous speaking competition, and Ross Stump won on the prepared competition. In the extemporaneous competition, the students are given three topics to choose from, and must develop a speech in 30 minutes on the topic that they chose.“
My topic for the extemporaneous speaking contest was, ‘How can we improve our country’s food safety system?’ The other topics that I were given were on urban agriculture and the new farm bill. I chose this topic because it was the only topic I felt that I had a chance in succeeding speaking about, and because I was most prepared with facts in this category. Not only that, but food safety is a really exigent topic in our society right now,” Brady Stump said. He continued, “I prepared for the contest by writing and speaking on extemp topics of all categories for the past few months.”
Not a public speaker before, Brady Stump credits the FFA program for helping to develop his skills. “FFA has helped me build skills in public speaking. Before FFA, there would be no way to convince me to give a speech on stage in front of almost one thousand people. Now, I’m happy to say that if given a little bit of time to prepare I would love to,” he said.
His immediate future plans include prepping for college and the National competition, which will be held in Louisville this fall. “Right now, I am planning on going to Colorado State University in the fall to begin working towards a master’s in Engineering. Until then, I will be working on my parent’s ranch and practicing speaking for national,” he stated.
Ross Stump, the state winner in prepared speaking, focused his speech on the media and agriculture. “My speech was entitled taking control. It is about mainstream media and how it negatively affects agriculture. My main goal is to remind consumers to check facts and sources and take a stand against large consolidated media. Preparing was a matter of practice. I gave it a lot of times to people with real media knowledge to challenge me with questions. I learned most from people who could really engage the underlying issues with careless large scale media,” he said.
He continued, “The competition was very tough this year. It was really nice to meet other competitors and hear about their topics. All of them were very friendly and humble and I would have been happy seeing any of them win. The feeling of winning was incredible. It was nice to see that my hard work paid off in the end.”
Ross Stump is also planning to attend CSU for engineering, and is an entrepreneur. “I am trying to start a business to promote positivity in agricultural trades using productive tools in the form of apps and websites. I want to go to college at CSU to be a software engineer or an electrical engineer,” he said. Part of his SAE included developing apps and websites. “The less conventional part is an iPhone/iPad app development and website design business. I have one app in the Apple App Store called iJudge that is intended to help FFA and 4-H students in judging contests. I also have designed a website to help a local farmer market his animals,” he explained.
The state convention is where FFA members from across the state gather to compete in various events, receive awards, listen to motivational speakers and participate in leadership workshops. The 85th convention was held on June 4-6, at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colo.
The state convention is also where the new state officers are elected. The new officers are: Tim Stahley, President; Alison Seedorf, Vice President; Snowy Grover, Secretary; Dusty Corliss, Treasurer; Wilson Ogg, Reporter; Clay Patton, Sentinel; Brady Rink, Executive Committee; Kayla Calvin, Executive Committee; Karen Williams, Executive Committee; Ashley Higgins, Executive Committee.
“FFA is important because it teaches students premier leadership, personal growth and career success.These students are challenged each day to try something new in the FFA and I know that they will be successful after they get out of high school as they will know so many different skills,” said Lohr. ❖