Wyoming youth sees national wins at National FFA Convention
Indianapolis, Ind. – The 91st National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis, Ind. brought thousands of youth to compete, network and learn about agriculture and leadership. During the week, Wyoming youth brought their best to the competition, and local youth brought home national championship honors in two events.
Cheyenne Frontier FFA’s Jonah Zeimans was crowned national champion in the Creed Speaking event, and Casper FFA’s Farm and Agribusiness Management team won the event, with team member Matthew Willadsen also earning top honors.
In his first year at the National FFA Convention, Jonah Zeimans, a student from Cheyenne East High School, started his FFA career as a freshman by winning the Wyoming FFA Creed Speaking Contest in April 2018. The win earned him a trip to Indianapolis, where he saw even more success.
The Creed Speaking contest requires freshmen in high school to recite the FFA Creed, a five-paragraph statement that defines the goals of the association. With its iconic beginning line, “I believe in the future of agriculture,” the Creed lays out foundations of hard work and perseverance necessary for success in the agriculture industry.
Joe Allen, Cheyenne Frontier FFA advisor, says, “Jonah hit the ground running when he started as a freshman, and he’s been very involved in our chapter. He’s our Greenhand president and is very, very committed to everything he does.”
Allen adds, “Jonah is a rare student. He’s involved in a lot of things, but he’s committed to everything he’s involved in.”
During the summer months and early this fall, Zeimans, who is the son of Demia and Matt Zeimans of Cheyenne, comments, “I spent a lot of time with Mr. Allen after school working, and a lot of different groups and organizations allowed me to recite the FFA Creed to them.”
Another big component of the contest is the question-and-answer portion following a recitation of the Creed, and Jonah says, “To prepare for the questions, I watched a lot of former National FFA Finals videos, really analyzing what those folks were doing.”
He developed a list of hundreds of possible questions, with help from advisors and coaches from around the state.
“We went through hundreds of questions, practicing different answers,” Zeimans says.
The night before the contest, Zeimans accompanied his chapter members to the Garth Brooks concert, where he had the chance to take his mind off the stress of the contest and bond with other FFA members.
“For starts, winning the Creed contest is a really humbling experience and the blessing of a lifetime,” Zeimans says. “This doesn’t happen every day. I came home and just had to thank God for the opportunity in my life.”
He says it was a good experience, and after his first year at National FFA Convention, Zeimans is looking forward to many more.
“I started FFA as a seventh grader in the exploratory program,” Zeimans comments. “I wasn’t very active through junior high school. I didn’t get very involved until I was a freshman when I was enrolled in class and had more interactions with the program on a day-to-day basis.”
“Thinking about the opportunities that FFA had, I knew I wanted to be active in the organization and take advantage of the opportunities available. Creed speaking just happened to be one of those,” he explains.
Zeimans operates a lawn care business as his Supervised Agriculture Experience program, and he’s looking forward to his future in the organization, though he’s not sure which direction he’s headed in.
“I’ve had so many opportunities, and FFA has been a blessing,” he comments. “A kid from Cheyenne can actually make it to the end and can make a difference. FFA has also helped me build new relationships with so many people, too.”
On Oct. 26, the Casper FFA Chapter was recognized as the National Championship team in the Farm and Agribusiness Management Career Development Event (CDE).
The team, coach by Casper FFA Advisor Brock Burch, included Payton Halsted, Laura Delano, Matthew Willadsen and Sheridan Stewart, who were congratulated and awarded $1,000 each by national sponsor John Deere.
Individually, Halsted placed fourth, Stewart finished ninth, and Delano ended 19th. Willadsen earned the honors of high individual in the country out of 176 competitors in the event.
The event focuses on applying economic principles in analyzing farm and ranch business management decisions. Participants respond to questions concerning economic principles in farm business management, land use, risk management, farming principles, budgeting, financial analysis, cash flow, marketing, taxes, investment analysis and family living, as well as a problem-solving analysis section.
Each team in the event has competed with other chapters in their state for the privilege of participating in the national even.
This was the first time in the contest’s 42 years that a Wyoming team has won. The team competed against 43 other state champion teams.
Saige Albert, managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, compiled these results from press releases and interviews with contestants. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.