By Matt Reese
It is impossible to replace the in-person experience of the Ohio FFA Convention for the students who participate, but this year’s virtual installment still had plenty of highlights and recognition for FFA members who worked to make the best of the situation.
The West Holmes FFA took things one step closer to an in-person convention by hosting FFA chapters from several counties with an in-person viewing at the Holmes County Fairgrounds. Dale Minyo served as the emcee for their FFA FUNvention. West Holmes FFA even got to celebrate their own Chase Stitzlein’s Star Farmer win together.
“We brainstormed and thought we needed to do something real for the kids. We got 18 schools together in 8 or 10 counties for an event to resemble convention,” said Jamie Chenevey, the West Holmes advisor. “We had workshops, and a session, we did a community service, we had an awards night, and a tradeshow. We had a dance, a guest speaker — we have made it as much of a real convention as we could.”
The attendees had to bring their own chairs and wore masks as they watched the virtual event on two big screens.
“This way they could get to know kids from other schools,” Chenevey said. “They really all seemed pleased to be here.”
Immediately following the convention, newly installed Ohio FFA president Jacob Zajkowski had yet to meet his new officer team in person, though he truly appreciated the unique experience.
“It was a surreal experience to be in studio with the team and also being with the entirety of Ohio FFA wherever they were, whether it was a gymnasium, a classroom or at their home with supporters, alumni or their families,” Zajkowski said. “I was able to meet the team on Zoom and they are full of energy, full of passion and I’m excited to see what we can do. As we transition into hopefully a more normal year we can continue the work that we have done this year and the strides Ohio FFA has made this year as well.”
Grant Skinner, from Buckeye Valley-DACC FFA, learned about his first-place proficiency finish in Agricultural Sales Entrepreneurship virtually, though his high-tech background had him well prepared for an online convention. Skinner operates Grant’s Tech, a technology integration company focusing on providing agricultural clients with complete IT services and products.
“I started when I designed the systems for our family farm. We can control our grain systems from anywhere in the world, monitor them and keep security on premises. All of this came together to where I have been able to take it to the state proficiency,” Skinner said. “I have always been interested in technology since I was a little kid. This was a pathway for me to have an excuse to buy the expensive computers. It allowed me to explore what I really wanted to do. I started with some off-the-shelf equipment, programmed it and repurposed it for what we are doing now. Since then I have been able to design my own proprietary equipment and software to implement into grain systems to automatically track grain trucks and keep track of exactly what is going on in the system.”
By the end, the 2021 virtual installment of the FFA convention accomplished its mission.
“It was definitely different, but still the same overarching goal. We did what was most important and that was honoring members,” said Bethany Starlin, retiring president. “We had livestreamed reactions and it was neat to watch those students celebrate alongside their parents, teachers and friends.”
Starlin — the only Ohio FFA president with a term to begin and end in virtual conventions — had to pre-record her retiring address where she talked about the rainstorms that inevitably plague life.
“We have storms in our lives that don’t always revolve around the weather — for example, the pandemic that we have all been experiencing,” Starlin said. “Why do we wait for it to pass when we could just dance through it? Let’s find the good in everything.”
As a whole, from the State Officer Team to the State Degree recipients, it seems like Ohio FFA members have done just that.
“As soon as my retiring address that was all about dancing in the rain ended playing, the loudest clap of thunder hit the studio and rain just started pouring,” Starlin said. “The timing definitely happened for a reason. The officer team kind of all looked at each other and said, ‘Yeah this is a good end to our year.’”
Here are some of this year’s Ohio FFA award winners.
Accounting – Sierra Sinclair, Warren FFA
Agricultural Communications – Megan Roell, Preble Shawnee FFA
Agriculture Education – Morgan Meyer, Anna FFA
Agricultural Mechanics Design and Fabrication – Meredith Ann Yerian, Fairfield Union FFA
Agricultural Mechanics Repair and Maintenance Entrepreneurship – Liam Homan, New Bremen FFA
Agricultural Mechanics Repair and Maintenance Placement – Justin Preece, Urbana FFA
Agricultural Processing – Alyssa Zdobinksi, National Trail-MVCTC FFA
Agricultural Sales Entrepreneurship – Grant Skinner, Buckeye Valley-DACC
Agricultural Sales Placement – Ethan Drzazga, West Holmes FFA
Agricultural Services – Brayden Shumaker, West Holmes FFA
Agriscience Research-Animal Systems – Nikita Scheifele, Indian Lake OHP FFA
Agriscience Research-Integrated Systems – Hallee Scott, Zane Trace FFA
Agriscience Research-Plant Systems – Jacob Zajkowski, Anthony Wayne-Penta
Beef Production Entrepreneurship – Luke Jennings, Felicity-Franklin FFA
Beef Production Placement – Amanda Annett, Utica FFA
Dairy Production Entrepreneurship – Maggie Mathews, East Clinton Great Oaks FFA
Dairy Production Placement – Renea Schmitmeyer, Versailles FFA
Diversified Agricultural Production – Wyatt Kunk, Houston-UVCC FFA
Diversified Crop Placement – Griffin Gillmor, Lakota FFA
Diversified Horticulture – Wesley Gehret, Versailles FFA
Diversified Livestock Production – Alexis Ogi, West Holmes FFA
Environmental Science and National Resources Management – Griffin Brinkman, Fayetteville FFA
Equine Science Entrepreneurship – Mitchell Bean, East Clinton Great Oaks FFA
Equine Science Placement – Brooke Blansette, Liberty Union FFA
Fiber Oil and Crop Production – Chris Dible, Big Walnut-DACC FFA
Forage Production – Max Homan, New Bremen FFA
Forest Management – Hannah Saum, Amanda-Clearcreek FFA
Fruit Production – Lillian Beebe, Fayetteville FFA
Goat Production – Noah Barga, Versailles FFA
Grain Production – Matthew Ruff, Westfall FFA
Landscape Management – Isabelle Crum, Cardington-Lincoln FFA
Nursery Operations – Hazel Jolliff, Cardington-Lincoln FFA
Organic Agriculture – Grant DeBruin, Miami Trace Great Oaks FFA
Outdoor Recreation – Delaney Shively, Tri-County North-MVCTC FFA
Poultry Production – Carter Luthman, Versailles FFA
Service Learning – Madisen Jolliff, Ridgemont FFA
Sheep Production – Zoe Parrott, Northmor FFA
Small Animal Production and Care – Morgan Kimmel, Covington-UVCC FFA
Specialty Animal Production – Alexis Crone, Cardington-Lincoln FFA
Specialty Crop – Mallory York, Versailles FFA
Swine Production Entrepreneurship – Megan Hancock, Tinora FFA
Swine Production Placement – Mykenzie Lance, Ridgemont FFA
Turf Grass Management – Robert Gray, Western Brown FFA
Vegetable Production – Lauren Wright, Miami East-MVCTC
Veterinary Science – Timberli Osborne, Felicity-Franklin FFA
Wildlife – Alex Kaiser, Versailles
Star in Agriscience – Jacob Zajkowski, Anthony Wayne-Penta FFA
Star in Agribusiness – Riley Sweigart, St. Marys FFA
Star in Agricultural Placement – Robert Gray, Western Brown FFA
Star Farmer – Timothy Stitzlein, West Holmes FFA
2021-2022 Ohio FFA Officer Team-
President – Jacob Zajkowski, Anthony Wayne-Penta
Vice President – Morgan Anderson, Amanda-Clearcreek
Secretary – Aubrey Schwartz, Miami Trace-Great Oaks
Treasurer – Mackenzie Ott, St. Marys
Reporter – Dawson Osborn, Lynchburg-Clay
Sentinel – Faith Galavich, Union Local
Vice Presidents at Large
Jared Dunn, Preble Shawnee
Brayden Huffman, Bloom-Carroll
Cassandra Mavis, Fairview
Branson Van Fleet, Shenandoah
Laura Wuebker, Versailles
Our 2021 Ohio FFA coverage was brought to you by Wilmington College. Plan a campus visit at: wilmington.edu.