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Local FFA chapter earns prestigious national award
South Central Agri-Science Academy FFA members returned home recently from the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Ind., where they were awarded the prestigious 3-Star National Chapter Award, the highest honor a school FFA chapter can receive.
The South Central Agri-Science Academy FFA chapter is based out of Saint Peter High School and its advisor is Gena Lilienthal, South Central Agri-Science Academy instructor. According to Lilienthal, the local chapter was one of only four FFA chapters in Minnesota earn the 3-Star Award with Chatfield, Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted, and Sleepy Eye being the others.
According to the FFA website (, "The National Chapter Award Program is designed to recognize FFA chapters that actively implement the mission and strategies of the organization. These chapters improve chapter operations using the National Quality Chapter Standards (NQCS) and a Program of Activities (POA) that emphasize growing leaders, building communities and strengthening agriculture. Chapters are rewarded for providing educational experiences for the entire membership."
“Each officer took time to write one page of the application last spring,” Lilienthal said. “The application highlights our chapter's activities and the impact those activities have on our members, school, and community.  In order to compete at national convention, our application had to earn high honors at the Minnesota State Convention.  
“This past July I submitted our application to Nationals. This is the first time our chapter has had members recognized on the national stage, which was a great experience for our FFA students.”
A rewarding trip all around
The National FFA Convention took place at various locales in Indianapolis the week of October 22-25, and included such venues as Bankers Life Fieldhouse (home of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers), Lucas Oil Stadium (home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts) and the Indianapolis Convention Center.
“National FFA Convention is always an exciting event because of the motivational speakers, interactive career fair, and the spectacle of being surrounded by students from throughout the entire country,” Lilienthal said. “This year was extra special to watch our students be recognized for their efforts.  Even though we are a young chapter, it was rewarding for our students to realize that their efforts in our small town can earn national honors.”  
An estimated 64,000 students, from around the U.S. and its territories, attended this year’s National FFA Convention.


“Besides an award session, we also walked around the National FFA Convention Expo,” Lilienthal said. “The Expo has numerous college recruiters, business displays and an agri-science fair.  The award ceremonies include motivational retiring addresses and professional speakers.  We listened to professional boxer Laila Ali and motivational speaker Jon Petz.  We also attended a private FFA concert with Rascal Flatts and Runaway June.”
The South Central Agri-Science Academy contingent also had the chance to tour two Indiana-based businesses -- the Albanese Confectionery Candy Factory (Merrillville, Ind.) and as well Hunter's Honey Farm (Martinsville, Ind.).