By Kerry Drager
The Sauk Centre Future Farmers of America (FFA) and their supporters raised $770 in donations for the Eagle’s Healing Nest during their tractor drive last weekend.
This is the organization’s second annual tractor drive and 29 individuals participated in the event. It was set up in part by Dave Bailey, who is familiar with tractor drives and felt that it was a fun way for the FFA to raise some money for a good cause.
“We’d rather give the money to somebody,” said Bailey. “The Eagle’s Healing Nest is a good organization and they need money. Let’s donate to them.”
FFA members Benjamin (Ben) Middendorf and Eugene Marthaler have been playing a significant role in the organization and assisted Bailey with the event. Bailey said that they are mentors to younger members and their efforts with the tractor drive reveals their personal success and passion for the FFA.
Both Middendorf and Marthaler have been active members of the FFA for the past four years. Middendorf is currently the regional president and has held offices on both the regional and chapter level. He also received the State FFA Degree, the highest award the State of Minnesota can give to a FFA member.
“In order to be awarded the State Degree, you have to have 360 hours in ag class. You have to invest your time and earn $2,000 with some kind of ag related job or career. Certain months need to be spent on community service. Putting it all down on paper is the hardest part,” Middendorf said.
Marthaler is the chapter vice president and has accomplished much to earn that title, including participating in the agricultural mechanics and preliminary portions of the state and national conventions.
“For the past couple of years, our chapter has brought 20 members to state each year. We also doubled the membership in our chapter. We used to have 23 and now we have 50 members,” said Marthaler.
The titles of these young men requires time spent within their community setting up events and attending meetings. These are the future members of the agricultural community and the organization is designed to help prepare the youths to take leadership roles both locally and statewide.
“Every year we do Ag Olympics. There is a homecoming parade, and we make sure we do something there. We’re known amongst the town,” said Marthaler.
Aside from all the hard work and time spent assisting the community, these two leaders of the organization feel that having fun is also a vital factor to their success and to the FFA.
“My older sister and some friends prodded me to join, and I took to it right away. It’s a good place to meet new people and have a lot of fun. I worked my way up and have gone further than most people have. I’ve always enjoyed the FFA, and I want to make it so kids that are younger than me all across the state can experience the fun that I have. That has been my drive to where I’m at now,” said Middendorf.
The Sauk Centre FFA is an active organization that participates in several events like the tractor drive that are geared toward helping others. Like all youth-oriented organizations, their success is tied to support from their local school and community.
Middendorf and Marthaler said the recent Sauk Centre School Board decision to cut the agricultural program by 50 percent has left their chapter without an adviser. The adviser assisted the FFA students with what the school would like to see from them and what the organization can and cannot do by school standards.
“That makes it very difficult to coordinate activities throughout the year,” said Middendorf. “We need to see agriculture supported a little more by the school so that they can get a full-time agriculture teacher. Then we can have an adviser again.”
Despite the lack of an adviser, the FFA is still going strong in the area and has plans to conduct more events like the tractor drive this summer. The organization is always looking for new members and support for events.
“Take charge and have some passion behind it. Have the drive and the want to get stuff done. Come with the ideas and the tradition of how it’s been done before,” said Middendorf.