PHS student wins National FFA Award


Plymouth High School recipients of the American FFA Degree recognized at the 87th National FFA Convention include (back row, left to right) Joseph Wimmler, Chris Reichert, Spencer Thiel, Andrew Michaels, (front row) Anna Kleinhans, Sarah Schalk and Megan Klumpyan. Not pictured are Jackson Wimmler, Michelle Meinnert and Alex Huibregtse. — Submitted photo Plymouth High School recipients of the American FFA Degree recognized at the 87th National FFA Convention include (back row, left to right) Joseph Wimmler, Chris Reichert, Spencer Thiel, Andrew Michaels, (front row) Anna Kleinhans, Sarah Schalk and Megan Klumpyan. Not pictured are Jackson Wimmler, Michelle Meinnert and Alex Huibregtse. — Submitted photo Plymouth High School returned from the 2014 National FFA Convention & Expo with a National Winner, a fourth-place finish and two silver rankings in Career Development Events competition and 10 new American Degrees.

The Plymouth FFA was well represented at the 87th National FFA Convention held Oct. 29-Nov. 1 in Louisville, Ky., with 30 members, two advisors and nine alumni members, parents and coaches present. They joined more than 64,000 FFA members, advisers and guests for the yearly convention, and also competed at the national level in several events.


Plymouth High School FFA member Andy Helmer is named National Winner in Dairy Production Placement at the National FFA Convention on Oct. 31. With him are (left to right) National FFA Eastern Region Vice President Wesley Davis and his FFA advisors Tracy Heinbuch and Walter Taylor. — Submitted photo Plymouth High School FFA member Andy Helmer is named National Winner in Dairy Production Placement at the National FFA Convention on Oct. 31. With him are (left to right) National FFA Eastern Region Vice President Wesley Davis and his FFA advisors Tracy Heinbuch and Walter Taylor. — Submitted photo National winner in Dairy Production Placement

Andy Helmer, Wisconsin winner and one of four finalists in Dairy Production Placement at the national level, was named National Winner at the convention. Dairy Production Placement is one of 49 FFA proficiency awards, and only 196 FFA members are selected nationwide to represent these different proficiency areas.

Proficiency awards recognize members who excelled as agricultural entrepreneurs, employees or volunteers while they gained hands-on career experience. Applications are judged on responsibilities, skills and knowledge gained while working at their place of employment. The top four finalists then go through a 15-minute interview process conducted by eight industry leaders from around the United States.

Andy’s proficiency is based on his Supervised Agricultural Experience, which takes place on the family farm, Helmer Dairy Farm Inc., part of the Helmer family for more than 150 years. Andy, son of John and Lynn Helmer, belongs to the seventh generation working on his family’s 70-cow dairy farm.

His responsibilities on the farm are not limited to a list of daily chores, as he completes all of the duties necessary to make sure the farm runs efficiently and effectively. He helps choose seed selections for planting, picks out sire selections and helps ensure that animals are healthy.

After earning a degree in dairy science and a minor in crop science from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls he hopes to become an owner of his family’s farm and improve its efficiency with advanced technology.

The Dairy Production Placement award program is sponsored by Kuhn North America and Nasco Division - Nasco International Inc., as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.

In addition to being selected as this year’s national proficiency winner, Andy also was selected through an application and interview process as a recipient of the 10-day National FFA Costa Rica Travel Seminar to be held in June 2015. The Costa Rica Proficiency and Stars Travel Seminar empowers FFA leaders by providing them with a global perspective. Through this experience, participants gain knowledge by visiting farms and agribusinesses. This expense-paid educational experience is sponsored by Kuhn North America and Nasco Division Nasco International Inc.

Career Development Events

Three Plymouth teams competed at the national level in the following Career Development Events (CDEs): Dairy Evaluation, Dairy Products and Poultry Evaluation. Each team competed at local and state levels to earn the privilege of representing their home state at the National FFA Convention & Expo.

CDEs help students develop the abilities to think critically, communicate clearly and perform effectively in a competitive job market. There are 24 CDEs, covering job skills in everything from communications to mechanics. Some events allow students to compete as individuals, while others allow them to compete in teams.

Dairy Cattle Evaluation and Management

The PHS Dairy Evaluation team placed fourth in the nation with all members earning a gold ranking. The team consisted of the following members and their respective individual places; Emily Meinnert (11th), Erica Helmer (20th), Holli Harms (28th), Brooke Reichert (48th) and coaches Sara Hanke and Heidi Taylor.

Winners of the National FFA Dairy Cattle Evaluation and Management CDE were announced Oct. 31 at the annual awards luncheon. The top 15 individuals and the national winning team members received cash awards to recognize their success in the event. The cash awards and the dairy cattle evaluation and management event are sponsored by Allflex USA Inc.

The National FFA Dairy Cattle Evaluation and Management CDE is a competitive event that tests the student’s ability to select and manage quality dairy cattle. Event components include six classes of dairy cattle, herd record evaluation and dairy management team activity.

Milk Quality and Products Evaluation

The PHS Milk Quality and Products Evaluation team was awarded a silver ranking overall. It consists of Stephanie Thiel, Morgan Klumpyan, Spencer Hanson and Emily Schicker and Coach Wayne Wedepohl.

The National FFA Milk Quality and Products CDE is a competitive event that allows students to prove their knowledge about the recognition, selection and management necessary for quality milk and dairy products. Participants must complete a written exam on milk production and marketing, evaluate milk samples for flavor and quality, identify cheeses and characteristics and complete milk acceptability tests in the team activity.

Poultry Evaluation

The PHS Poultry Evaluation team was awarded a silver ranking overall and Spencer Schultz was also a gold ranked individual based on his overall score. The team consists of Alex Schultz, Hannah Larson, Spencer Schultz and Coach Don Mier.

The National FFA Poultry Evaluation CDE is a competitive event that tests the participant’s ability to select top quality poultry and poultry products needed for successful production and marketing. Event participants must complete a written exam on poultry management, evaluate classes of live birds for eggs and meat production, evaluate quality of eggs, and evaluate and identify parts and products.

American Degree recipients

The following Plymouth FFA members were among the 3,765 who received their American Degrees at the 2014 convention, awarded for demonstrating the highest level of commitment to FFA: Sarah Schalk, Megan Klumpyan, Joseph Wimmler, Jackson Wimmler, Spencer Thiel, Chris Reichert, Andrew Michaels, Alex Huibregtse, Michelle Meinnert and Anna Kleinhans.


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