Members of the state winning team include Anna Benjamin, Cameron Hayden, Libby Hein, Courtney Kuemin, Malika Malik, Desirae Massey and Emily Waldschmidt, who is counting down the 215 days to Indianapolis. The team was coached by Cassopolis FFA adviser Carrie George.

Archived Story

Cass FFA state champion twice

Published 9:33pm Wednesday, March 21, 2012

CASSOPOLIS — Cassopolis FFA brought home two state championships from the Michigan FFA Convention March 7-9 at Michigan State University.
Three leadership teams advanced to state competition. Several individuals received awards from 30 Cassopolis FFA members who attended.
The Agricultural Issues team placed first to compete at the National FFA Convention this fall in Indianapolis.
Their controversial issue they selected in January, “Have the Proposed Child Labor Regulations Gone Too Far?” afforded them the opportunity to perform in the MSU auditorium in front of the entire convention delegation.
Members of the state winning team include Anna Benjamin, Cameron Hayden, Libby Hein, Courtney Kuemin, Malika Malik, Desirae Massey and Emily Waldschmidt, who is counting down the 215 days to Indianapolis.
The team was coached by Cassopolis FFA adviser Carrie George.
“They have to be good actors,” she said after school Wednesday. Cassopolis last won this state title in 2009. “Once you win a competition at state level, you can’t repeat that contest.”
Ag Issues combines elements of debate with a theatrical skit like Thespian Troupe staging a play.
“Our particular set-up was a webinar with people from Chicago and Los Angeles and the Department of Labor, Farm Bureau, an ag teacher and a farmer — all roles,” Massey, a senior who will be at Southwestern Michigan College by fall, said. She plans to study speech pathology, then do missionary work in California in the summer of 2013. She followed two of her three siblings into FFA in seventh grade and “loved it.”
Malik is also a senior, but just joined FFA this year, so felt particularly aware of the target “Cassopolis” carries on their blue jackets because of its tradition.
“When you say where you’re from they don’t talk to you anymore.” She expects to attend the University of Michigan. “I like speaking, but I’ve never shown animals,” like Cameron, who exhibits cattle and, at the 2011 Cass County Fair, the grand champion market hog.
“One of our judges at state level was a Pfizer representative and she liked our presentation so much she’s invited us to perform at their annual banquet” in Kalamazoo, said Kuemin, another sophomore. “We won state in seventh grade,” said Waldschmidt. Around school, fellow students “are impressed with how we do,” said Waldschmidt, who, like Kuemin is considering becoming a veterinarian.
“Teachers are very flexible and supportive.” During National FFA Week they had a teacher appreciation day breakfast. FFA also conducts the Feed a Ranger backpack program and Farm Day for Lewis Cass Intermediate School District students at their barn.
“We raise crops, so we get money from that,” Hayden said about getting to Indianapolis. “Our big fundraiser in November is the sale of Florida oranges, tangerines and grapefruit.”
Junior High Conduct of Meetings placed first and received a gold award in the state finals. The team consisted of Dylan Armstrong, Daniel Deubner, Emily Dussel, Austin Green, Colin Kelley, Matt Locke and Monica Ward. Alternates for this team included Jacqueline Cogdell-Kelley, Jurnee Johnson, Hesston Wallace and Austin Voss. Cheryl Rogers, assistant FFA adviser, coached the junior high team, which doesn’t advance to nationals.
“We get an agenda in a prep room and five minutes to come up with possible motions and debates to solve it,” said Dussel, the secretary and a third-generation member. “We placed fourth at state last year.”
Kelley, the vice president, added, “There are 10 questions at the end about Robert’s Rules of Orders. Whoever answers those most correctly gets the most points.
We had to go through districts and regionals just to get to the eight teams at state. We worked harder.”
The agenda scenario was a nursing home and how to spend time with residents.
The Cassopolis chapter also earned a silver award in Greenhand Conduct of Meetings.  The greenhand team included Emily Cutting, Jordan Dowling, Michelle Green, Moriah Holloway, Justin Polmateer, Marissa Waldschmidt and Tyler Ward. Alternate for this team was Dustin Robert. They were coached by RJ Lee.
Several other Cassopolis FFA members received recognition at state.
Former Cassopolis FFA member and past national FFA officer Ryan Peterson was awarded the Honorary State Degree.
Receiving State Degrees were Micki Lee and Ashley Rogers.
Cassopolis FFA is the only chapter in Cass County and among the five largest chapters in Michigan with 125 members. Cassopolis FFA welcomes students from both Cass and Berrien counties.
Agricultural education courses offered at Cassopolis include agriscience research, animal science, plant science, ecology and food science.
The national FFA organization is a youth organization of 523,309 student members preparing for leadership and careers in the science, business and technology of agriculture.
The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.

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