DODGE CENTER, Minn. - On Friday, November 1st, Triton High School graduate Martha Moenning became the National Champion for Prepared Public Speaking at the National Future Farmers of America Convention.
"The word that comes to mind is gratitude. Just a lot of gratitude and gratefulness of having the opportunity to work with an individual like Martha," says FFA advisor Robert Ickler.
Roughly 20 years ago, Triton Public Schools didn't even have an FFA chapter. The program was cut and eventually revitalized. 10 years ago, Robert Ickler joined Triton as the agriculture teacher and FFA advisor.
"Ever since he's been here, things have kind of slowly but surely improved and now it's like the results we're seeing and the awards that kids are winning, it's like, holy buckets!" says Superintendent Craig Schlichting.
Since 2015, Triton FFA students have consistently achieved at the state and national level. In the last 9 years, 22 Triton graduates have received the FFA American Degree. It's an achievement .5% of all FFA participants nationwide receive.
"Any student is capable of success. what they need to do is just remember to believe in themselves," says Mr. Ickler.
Anna Ridenour is the Triton FFA chapter's vice president and the regional assistant officer. She's planning to pursue animal science after high school and believes FFA is preparing her and her fellow participants for their futures beyond high school. "Being able to have public speaking skills and being able to talk in front of a group of people, you'll find that in a lot of different jobs and then being able to listen to others. You have to be open to new ideas and that's what you do when you're on a team. Whether its livestock judging or being on a group at work or being in a classroom, there's so many different things where you're going to need these leadership skills that you develop through FFA," she explains.
On Tuesday, voters approved a $750 per student increase to Triton's revenue. If it hadn't passed, Triton would have had to find a way to cut another $500,000 out of their budget, roughly the same amount it reduced after the 2018 referendum failed.
"When you have a program that's as strong as we have, it makes it very difficult to look at cutting something like that but you have to look at everything," says Superintendent Schlichting.
Because of the successful voter-approved operating levy, Triton's programs including the agriculture program and FFA are safe from cuts. "It's just incredible to know that we can move forward and start to really dig in and explore some of the opportunities that we can provide for our students because with a teacher like that, there's amazing opportunities," says Schlichting.
Ickler believes Triton's FFA chapter will continue to be competitive at the state level.