Brainerd FFA is more than just agriculture

FFA students from Brainerd High School spoke about their organization

BHS FFA - School Board, April 10, 2023
Zoey Smith, left, leads her fellow Brainerd High School FFA members in a demonstration of parliamentary procedure during a Brainerd School Board meeting Monday, April 10, 2023, at Forestview Middle School. Zoey Smith, left, leads her fellow Brainerd High School FFA members in a demonstration of parliamentary procedure during a Brainerd School Board meeting Monday, April 10, 2023, at Forestview Middle School. Pictured are Audree Rosenkrans, Bailey Rosenkrans, Ella Yaunick, Ellie Smith and Alyssa Ehlenfeldt.
Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch

BAXTER — Leadership, teamwork, public speaking and all-around self-confidence are the results of participation in the Brainerd High School FFA organization for several of its members.

The organization is about more than just agriculture, and that’s what six members showed the Brainerd School Board Monday, April 10.

The girls spoke about what they do and how the activities have inspired personal growth before showing off the parliamentary procedure skills they’ve honed this year and plan to bring to the state convention.

Parliamentary procedure is one of the leadership development opportunities offered in FFA, during which students learn about running business meetings efficiently and effectively and respectfully debating issues.

“It’s an excellent contest for teamwork and teambuilding,” FFA adviser Magnus Nelson said Monday. “… Wherever they go, whatever they do — whether it’s agriculture or not, they’re going to be able to speak up in a room and in front of people they don’t know and be able to voice their knowledge, opinions, that sort of thing.”


At the state FFA convention in a couple weeks, the group of six will be given a series of motions they must discuss and then allowed one minute of preparation before running a mock meeting and showing off their skills for the judges. The judges expect good, healthy debates and will ask questions at the end of the performance to test the students’ parliamentary procedure knowledge.

Led by secretary Zoey Smith, the girls demonstrated their skills for the School Board Monday night, conducting a short mock business meeting with several topics up for discussion.

“Is it a coincidence there’s six of you and you’re going to do parliamentary procedure? I feel like if you do really well, we’ll just switch places, and you guys can be on the school board,” School Board Chair Kevin Boyles joked.

But all jokes aside, board members were impressed with the girls’ performance.

“You young people have done a very good job in speaking, and that is very important in any society to be able to talk to people and communicate and what not, so I commend you on that,” board member Randy Heidmann said.

Garfield Elementary School Principal Jodi Kennedy praised the group as well, explaining how they had been invited to a meeting of a new elementary parent group recently to help the adults learn about running a business meeting.

Other FFA activities throughout the year include running the kiddie barn at the Crow Wing County Fair, teaching second graders about agriculture and volunteering time to community service initiatives.

On top of that, 27 Brainerd students will attend the state convention April 23-25 at the University of Minnesota. They’ll attend workshops, compete in events like parliamentary procedure and meet with 5,000 other FFA members from across the country.


School Board member John Ward, who had previously attended the state convection while serving in the Minnesota House of Representatives, said the work the students do both there and locally is wonderful and highlights the district’s educational goals for its students.

“We as board members or as community citizens always talk about lifelong learning and carrying our educational programming to lifelong, and this is a great example of it,” Ward said. “This is a great example of FFA and what they have and will continue to do.”

Headline News from the Brainerd Dispatch

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at .

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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