Cassopolis junior, senior high school FFA teams win big at state

Published 9:42 am Thursday, March 14, 2019


CASSOPOLIS – On Friday, March 8, the Cassopolis Junior High and High School FFA teams competed in Michigan’s Annual FFA Convention against the best FFA teams from around the state.

The convention was hosted at Michigan State University over a two-day period. In order to qualify to compete, teams had to win both district and regional competitions.

There are 109 FFA chapters in the state of Michigan, and Cassopolis can say they are number one in three competitive events.

Awards and honors won include:

High school:

• First place/Gold — Paraliamentary Procedure Team

• First place/Gold — Madison Suseland, public speaking

• Fifth place/Silver — Greenhand Team

• Nicholas Prestly — Elected Michigan State FFA secretary

Junior high school:

• First place/Gold — Conduct of Meetings Team

• Fifth place/Silver — Mason Smego, creed competition

Cassopolis FFA teams, led by Advisor Abby Asmus, assisted by Hannah Deubner, worked together to prepare for state competitions.

Bringing home four gold honors and one silver, Deubner, who is also the coach for the Parli Pro team, said their teamwork really paid off, this year.

“In other district and regional competitions, when the Parli Pro team would be done competing, they always had things they wished they had done differently,” Deubner said.

But not this time – this time the students knew they nailed it, she said.

The Parli Pro team has been together competing for the past five years. The team has placed before, but never won first place.

“After leaving the room at state, I knew we won. That was one of the best meetings we had conducted, ever,” senior Nicholas Prestly said.

For Deubner, a first-year coach, it was a proud moment when she heard their names announced as the gold winners. Her emotions nearly got the best of her.

“I wanted to run up and hug them all, and tell them how proud of them I was,” Deubner said.

More than just an agricultural education, students in FFA learn leadership skills, life skills and public speaking skills, among others, according to those involved with the program.

Prestly, who plans to attend Michigan State University and study pre-med in the fall, was elected by his peers as Michigan State FFA secretary. He will be working with the FFA to do chapter visits in the fall, work on other projects around the state and as a team, the officers run the state convention in the spring.

Part of the reason he chose MSU is because of the university’s close ties with the FFA, which will allow him to fulfill his duties.

“I am honored to have been chosen for this, and excited for the next year,” Prestly said.

Students in the Cassopolis program said that when they started out, they often were not sure what to expect from FFA and others might be deterred because they are not farmers or have not participated in 4-H. Despite this, students in the program said they would encourage anyone who might be interested to give it a try.

“At the very first meeting I went to, I figured out what it was and all the amazing things that I could do,” said junior Ethan Sheets, who is also a chapter officer.

Junior Sarah Schneider credited her new-found public speaking skills with the practice she has had with FFA. Schneider anticipates her transition to college — and eventually the job market — to be easier because she was in FFA.

“I am so glad I have had this experience,” she said.  “It’s really helped me overcome my shyness.”

As these Cassopolis students know, oftentimes, this program can lead to scholarships, and at the very least provide them with a leg up on the competition.

“There’s so much more to FFA than farming. The public speaking and leadership aspects are great, and is so much more than just agricultural education,” Deubner said.