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Sixteen Honorary State FFA Degrees were awarded at the 94th Wisconsin State FFA Convention in Madison, Wisconsin, June 14, 2023. The Honorary Degree is the highest degree that the Wisconsin Association of FFA can bestow on a non-member. The recipients were presented with plaques during a special program to thank them for their dedication to agriculture education. This year’s honorees include:
Pam Allen is the FFA advisor and agricultural instructor at Mount Horeb where she has served for 34 years. She is the chair of the DPI Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Standards Review Team providing ag education leaders and educators with a high-quality, rigorous set of standards to guide what students should know and be able to do after completing a program of study. She is a frequent State Star Judge and is the keeper of the notorious large State FFA Convention gavel.
Ashley Andre is a Policy Initiatives Advisor at Wisconsin Department of Agriculture. She has worked with the State FFA Officer Team in the Farm and Family Building at the State Fair and since 2020 she meets monthly with Wisconsin Agriculture Youth Council members. Ashley won the 2003 Wisconsin FFA State Extemporaneous Speaking contest and served Wisconsin as the 61 st Alice in Dairyland.
Trevor Athorp is concluding 5 years as a member of the Wisconsin FFA Foundation Board where he has served as Treasurer since 2019. He works for Nicolet National Bank as an agriculture and commercial loan
officer. He was an FFA member when attending Howards Grove High School and is an avid promoter of FFA and agriculture with his own children and the local FFA Alumni.
Tom Bressner is a 6 year member of the Wisconsin FFA Foundation Board where he just completed his term as board president. He is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Agri-Business Association and an
industry leader at the state and national level. A native of Illinois, Mr. Bressner served the Illinois FFA Association as a state officer in 1976-77.
Mark and Tammy Denk
Mark and Tammy Denk are parents of the 2022-23 Wisconsin FFA President Casey Denk. Both were FFA members at Mondovi High School and Mr. Denk went on to become an agriculture instructor for 9 years. Mr. and Mrs. Denk delight in helping FFA members, employ members on their farm providing hands-on experience, and helped reestablish the local FFA Alumni chapter.
Kelley Fanning has served as a Financial Specialist at Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction for 3 years for six student organizations including the FFA. She supports Wisconsin FFA behind the scenes
ensuring FFA programs are supported.
David Friend is a 25-year teacher at Kiel High School. He has grown the program into a two-teacher department, developed curriculum so classes serve as science credit options and link with Lakeshore Technical College for college credit. He has been advisor to 4 Wisconsin State FFA Officers,
served as a WAAE board member, mentored new teachers and was a 2020 Herb Kohl Teacher Fellow.
Amy Gerhardt is the 2022-23 President of the Wisconsin Association of Agricultural Educators (WAAE). She has served on the WAAE board since 2017. For 23 years she was an agriculture instructor, she began her career at Augusta and for the last 18 years she has served at Neillsville, which was where she attended high school and was an FFA member.
Gene Hetebrueg is a Territory Manager for Leedstone Animal Health and for the last 5 years has served as the Wisconsin FFA Alumni Association Fundraising Chair. At the 2020 Wisconsin FFA Alumni Convention he helped lead the top netting auction of $60,000. His leadership was also instrumental in starting the Living to Serve sponsorship program.
Bobbie Jo Montgomery
Bobbie Joe Montgomery is the President of the Wisconsin FFA Alumni Association. She was the first female president for the Weyauwega- Fremont FFA Chapter, is a lifetime FFA Alumni member, and is the co-FFA Advisor for the Waupaca FFA. She is a 24-year Special Education teacher who is passionate about FFA and assists with FFA judging at the state and national levels.
Dean Olson is the Interim Dean for UW-River Falls College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. Since 2012 he has chaired the regional qualification contest for Agricultural Technology and Mechanical Systems CDE at the UW-River Falls. He has been recognized as a
CAFES Outstanding Faculty and has taught many Wisconsin Agricultural Education majors in his courses at UW-River Falls.
Brian Pinchart is the outgoing Wisconsin FFA Center Board Chair and is the FFA Advisor and agricultural instructor at Wrightstown Community School District where he has served the last 14 years. He frequently
assists as an Agriscience Fair judge at the state and national levels, helps with the Ag Sales CDE regional contest and the Ag Artwork at the State Convention.
Wendy Riester serves as Department Assistant for Ag Education, Ag Economics and Engineering Technology at UW-River Falls. Since 2018 she has played a critical role supporting the UW-River Falls Parliamentary Procedure LDE judging and CDEs as well as other FFA events. Her facilitation of the many logistics behind the scenes is daunting and plays a vital role in seamless occurrence and success of each event.
Secretary Randy Romanski
Randy Romanski is secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection appointed by Governor Tony Evers. Secretary Romanski initiated the Wisconsin Agriculture Youth Council in 2020 and has reinvigorated the Wisconsin Agriculture Education and Workforce Development Council. As DATCP Secretary, he advocates for the Wisconsin agriculture industry not only across the state but also the country and internationally. It is for this reason that Secretary Romanski was unable to join us this evening, so accepting the award on his behalf is Deputy Secretary Aileen Switzer.
Carolyn Rozell has served the Wisconsin FFA Foundation as Operations Manager for 5 years. She assists with daily operations of the Wisconsin FFA Foundation working with and for program donors and facilitates the FFA Scholarship and Grant Programs.
Joe Schlies served as the 2019-20 Wisconsin FFA Parliamentarian and the 2020-21 Wisconsin FFA President. Currently he is a facilitator for State Officer programs, NextGen Conference and the State Officer Summit. In addition, he is an office assistant at the Wisconsin FFA Center coordinating the redesign of Wisconsin Team Ag Ed’s website.
The Wisconsin Association of FFA is grateful for these individuals dedication to the organization and the legacy they have created in agriculture education and the Wisconsin Association of FFA.
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