September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
Besides offering students an opportunity to develop leadership and communication skills, the convention also gave students a chance to showcase their agricultural knowledge in a friendly competition with their peers.
One team competing at the convention that was particularly memorable was the Sauk Centre FFA Dairy Judging Team. Three out of the four members of this FFA team share not only the first place honor they earned at the convention but also a last name. Emily, Jacob, and Rachel Achen, along with Maggie Jennissen, are the proud members of the Sauk Centre FFA first place Dairy Judging Team.
Emily, 18, is the Achen with the most seniority on the team. This is her fourth year in FFA and her eighth year judging cattle.
Jacob, 17, is next in line, with three years in FFA and eight years judging cattle.
For Rachel, 15, and Jennissen, this is their first year in FFA, although both have previous cattle judging experience - five and three years, respectively.
Emily, Jacob, and Rachel are the children of Craig and Cindy Achen. Maggie is the daughter of Jerry and Linda Jennissen. Both the Achen and Jennissen families milk cows on their respective Sauk Centre dairy operations.
Although Emily has previously been a member of a champion dairy judging team, this was a new experience for her younger sister.
"At first I couldn't tell what place we had won," Rachel Achen said. "It was really hard to hear. Then when it registered that we placed first...it was really overwhelming."
Jennissen, who grew up showing cattle, was also excited to be a part of a first place team.
"I felt really proud," she said.
In order to compete at the state level, FFA Dairy Judging Teams must first qualify at the regional level. The Sauk Centre FFA Judging Team placed first in its region.
The Sauk Centre Dairy Judging Team will now advance to the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis this October to represent Minnesota in the Dairy Cattle Evaluation Career Development Event.
Competing on a team of siblings is a piece of cake for the Achens, who said they have been judging together as a family from little on up.
"As a team we are all very supportive of one another," Emily said.
They even agree on a favorite aspect of judging: giving reasons, or explaining their judgments. Emily said their fondness for giving reasons always appears in their final scores - it's one area in which they really excel.
"Our strength as a team is definitely our 'reasons,'" she said. "It really pulls us ahead. Something we need to work on is linear scoring."
Linear scoring is when the team judges a cow in 15 different areas using a point system.
But all numbers aside, the FFA convention is an opportunity for the Achens and Jennissen to do something more than just compete.
"It's a chance for us to get together and talk about good cows that look nice and hang out with our friends while doing it," Jacob said.
Other convention results
FFA students had an opportunity to compete in a number of dairy-related areas at the 2008 State Convention and many teams and individuals shone brightly.
Jonathon Schmitt of the Royalton FFA Chapter placed first (individually) in Dairy Cattle Evaluation.
Elizabeth Olsen of the Hutchinson FFA Chapter ranked first in Dairy Handling.
The Mahnomen FFA Chapter, consisting of Heidi Houska, Emily VanDenEinde, Melissa Bisek and Kristi Walz took first in Dairy Foods. VanDenEinde took first as an individual.
For a complete listing of Career Development Event results, visit the Minnesota State FFA Web site at www.ffa.umn.edu.
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