State FFA Degree recipients honored, National FFA Vice President speaks

MINNEAPOLIS (April 24, 2023) – Four Minnesota FFA members were named the “Stars Over Minnesota” as Day Two of the Minnesota State FFA Convention wrapped up Monday night at Williams Arena in Minneapolis. The Star Awards are presented annually to the top individuals from four different Supervised Agricultural Experience project categories. The recognition program aims to celebrate members for outstanding achievement and dedication to their SAEs.

2023 State Star award winners are:

  • Star Farmer: Rachel Tusa, Jackson County Central FFA, daughter of Steve and Jenny Tusa. Tusa began raising market Angus cattle during her freshman year and has since grown her inventory from five head to 20 head per year. She has raised more than 50 head of cattle in total. Tusa hopes to take over her family’s cattle and crop farm with her brother.

  • Star in Agriculture, Food and Natural Resource Sciences: Shae Fath, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg FFA, daughter of Tony Fath and Jen Nash. For the last two years her work has revolved around food insecurity at her high school, by way of a survey about food-insecure students and the lack of knowledge about how they can receive support. She developed an educational campaign to increase the awareness of that support.

  • Star in Agribusiness: Jacob Walsh, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg FFA, son of Jason and Courtney Walsh. Walsh works at CY Harvesting, a custom forage harvesting business, and has worked his way up to being a crew leader. His role is to make harvesting decisions and train a crew of workers mainly from South Africa and Romania. He also performs preventative maintenance and repairs equipment.

  • Star in Agricultural Production Placement: Adam Hicks, Tracy Area FFA, son of Brian and Michelle Hicks. Hicks lives and works on Nettiewyynnt Farms, raising corn, soybeans, hay and cattle. He has worked on the family farm since third grade, and also works for Hicks Family Hybrids, a seed business. His farm responsibilities include planting, harvesting, spraying, maintenance and tiling, along with other duties.

National FFA officer provides inspiration

Words of encouragement were delivered by National Vice President Karstyn Cantrell from Oklahoma, as FFA members gathered for the evening session.

”Fear only has as much power as we give it,” she said. “We don’t have to be fearless. We just need to remind ourselves to fear less.”

Minnesota FFA Honorary Degree recipients named

The Minnesota FFA Association relies on the support of exceptional teachers, individuals and companies to provide life-changing experiences for its members. Individuals who have provided exceptional service on a state level to agriculture, agricultural education or FFA are eligible for the Honorary FFA Degree. Additionally, teachers who have created high-quality agricultural education programs which inspire and motivate their students to strive for success are eligible.

Honorary Degrees for 2023 were presented to:

  • Nate and Shannon Kuball, Waterville.

  • Brad and Jennifer Beckendorf, Renville.

  • Eric and Angie Alberts, Pine Island.

  • Chad and Sharon Lozinski, Clara City.

  • Tracy and Jamie Johnson, Fertile.

  • Deron and Cam Erickson, Morris.

  • Sara and Chris Bullock, Cyrus.

  • Jessica Daberkow, Heron Lake.

  • Lara Durben, Buffalo.

  • Paul Haberman, Slayton.

  • Nathan Hanel, Mankato.

  • Dr. Laura Hasselquist, Brookings, South Dakota State University.

  • Lynn Ketelsen, Rochester.

  • Ruth Meirick, Eagan.

  • Jim Mesik, Norwood Young America.

  • Dr. Vikram Mistry, Brookings, South Dakota State University.

  • Bonita Oestreich, Ashby.

  • Jacob Oyster, Sebeka.

  • Nick Schiltz, Austin.

  • Brian Schornack, New York Mills.

  • John Schurb, Dawson Boyd.

  • Ann Tauzell, Forest Lake.

  • Tim Uhlenkamp, Willmar.

  • Gary Wertish, Minnesota Farmers Union.

State Degree recipients recognized

Minnesota State Degrees were awarded to 343 agricultural education students from across the state. The degree is given to the top members of a state FFA Association, and only two percent of Minnesota FFA members earn the degree. It demonstrates the student has put an exceptional amount of time into their SAE, local chapter and community.

State president gives retiring address

Emma Kuball, the retiring president of Minnesota FFA from Waterville-Elysian Morristown FFA gave her retiring address Monday night.

“We can’t let our obstacles define our stories,” Kuball emphasized.