Versailles FFA named No. 1 chapter in nation, members receive awards


VERSAILLES — Versailles FFA was named as the No. 1 chapter in the nation as the Models of Excellence winner. FFA Member Wuebker was named America Star in Agriculture Placement and the National FFA Proficiency Winner. FFA Members Winner and York were recognized as National FFA top four finalist and members Hesson and Wuebker will compete in National FFA Talent.

The 95th National FFA Convention proved to be a very exciting and successful convention for the Versailles FFA. Over 70,000 FFA members and supporters attended this event making it the world’s largest youth event. Highlights of the National FFA Convention included Versailles FFA being announced as the Models of Excellence Winner and the No. 1 Chapter in the nation. This is the first time that Versailles FFA has received this honor.

The Models of Excellence Award is based on the National FFA Chapter application in which Versailles FFA highlighted nine activities that were conducted from March 2021 to March of 2022 in the areas of building communities, strengthening agriculture, and growing leaders. The application was first scored over the summer by a panel of judges from the National FFA and Versailles FFA was named as Top 10 Models of Excellence Finalist.

In late September, Versailles FFA President Zoe Billenstein and Student Advisor Colin Batten presented the nine Versailles FFA activities in a 15-minute powerpoint presentation with questions which were scored by a committee selected from the National FFA. From the presentation, Versailles FFA was named a Top 3 finalist and given the opportunity to compete for the No. 1 spot at the National FFA Convention. Zoe Billenstein and Colin Batten presented the 15-minute Versailles FFA Models of Excellence Presentation that highlighted the nine activities on the final stage at the 2022 National FFA Convention. In addition to the powerpoint, Zoe and Colin answered questions relating to the nine activities and chapter for 15 minutes. After the presentation, at the 7:00 p.m. session on Thursday, Oct. 27, Versailles FFA was named as the Models of Excellence Winner, ranking them as the No. 1 chapter in the nation.

Versailles FFA would like to thank Zoe Billenstein and Colin Batten for their hard work and dedication in presenting and preparing the National FFA Chapter presentation. An additional thank you is extended to 2021-2022 Versailles FFA Vice-President, Delaney Barga, who wrote the application and to the 2021-2022 Versailles FFA officers and members for carrying out these activities. The National FFA chapter application is a 25-plus page application that contains nine activities and pictures of those activities.

Versailles FFA would like to thank Larry Weyand, Grifon Miller and Mike Goubeaux for their assistance with practicing and technology. Also a thank you is extended to Maria Homan, Marie Carity, Amy Hoying, Lucy Bambauer and Jessica Hesslinger for practice interviewing with the Models of Excellence presentation.

At the 2022 National FFA Convention, Jacob Wuebker was named the 2022 National FFA American Star in Agricultural Placement. A total of four stars were selected across the United States. This is the highest individual honor that a member can achieve. Jacob earned this by working over 14,000 hours at Wuebker Farms since his eighth-grade year when he entered agriculture education at Versailles. Jacob is involved in all physical aspects at Wuebker Farms including daily feeding of sows, pigs and cattle, managing the grinding and delivering of feed, hauling manure, bedding stables, weaning pigs, sorting and loading market hogs and pigs, tillage, planting and harvesting of all crops, transporting crops and livestock, repairing and maintaining equipment and other day to activities of the diversified crop and livestock.

In May, Jacob submitted a 30-plus page application that included pictures and letters of recommendations and was selected as Ohio’s American Star Candidate. Jacob’s application was re-evaluated and sent to the National FFA in June. In July, a panel of judges reviewed the star application and Jacob Wuebker was selected as a top four finalist for the American Star in Agriculture Placement. In September, Jacob participated in an interview with a committee selected from National FFA and participated in producing a video that reviewed his SAE.

Jacob would like to thank the following individuals for helping him practice for his star interview: Thomas Shaw, Joe Hartzell, Amy Hoyiing, Marie Charity, Lucy Bambauer, Roland Fischer, Greg McGlich and Stephanie Joliff.

The National FFA Proficiency Finalist and Winners were announced at the 95th National FFA Convention. Three Versailles FFA members were recognized on stage as top four National FFA Proficiency Finalist which included: Laura Wuebker who was a finalist in the area of Ag Communications, Mallory York who was a finalist in the area of Diversified Horticulture, and Luke Winner who was a finalist in Beef Placement.

Laura Wuebker went on to be recognized as the National FFA Proficiency Winner in the area of Ag Communications. Her SAE was a job placement at WTGR Radio Station in which she served as co-farm news director. Laura is the daughter of Jeff and Dena Wuebker and is a sixth-year member of Versailles FFA and is attending Oklahoma State University majoring in Ag Communications. Congratulations to Laura on this awesome accomplishment!

Mallory York is the daughter of Dan and Abby York and Kevin and Mindy Kissinger and was recognized as a top four National FFA Proficiency Finalist in the area of Diversified Horticulture. Mallory worked in the Versailles FFA greenhouse and conducted two plant sales out of her school bus mobile greenhouse. Mallory raised over 600 fall mums and sold bedding plants.

Luke Winner is the son of Brian and Lisa Winner and was recognized as a top four National FFA Finalist in the area of Beef Placement. Luke assists with all aspects of their beef cattle operation from feeding, to sorting/loading cattle to grinding feed. Luke has worked over 4,900 hours and serves as a beef herdsman. Luke is a senior and fifth year member of Versailles FFA.

Laura, Luke and Mallory earned the opportunity to have their applications sent to the National FFA after placing first in Ohio in May. Each state is allowed to submit one proficiency award application for each of 49 proficiency award areas to the National FFA for ranking. A panel of judges selected by National FFA evaluated the applications and named the top four proficiency finalists as well as gold, silver, and bronze finalists in each 49 award areas. The 20-page proficiency application submitted included: goals, plans of practices, resume, pictures, letters of recommendations, financial records and hour documentation.

Thank you to the following for helping practice interviews. They included: Jeff Wuebker, Sam Custer, Matt Aultman, Greg McGlinch, Thomas Shaw and Curt Goubeaux for helping conduct practice interviews. Laura, Noah and Mallory each received a $500.00 check and Laura received an additional $500.00 check for being announced the winner.

On Saturday at the National FFA Convention, seven members of the Versailles FFA received their American FFA Degree. They included: Luke Billenstein, Noah Barga, Darian Feltz, Kobe Epperly, Maddy Henry, Renea Schmitmeyer and Jacob Wuebker. This is the highest degree that the National FFA bestows upon its members. Over 400 members from Ohio received their American FFA Degree and 4,305 total degrees were awarded on Saturday.

Versailles FFA was honored to have two individuals that competed in the National FFA Talent Show competition. Andrew Wuebker and Dalton Hesson of Versailles FFA and Mora Menize of Arcanum FFA competed in the National FFA Talent Show. Over 200 acts competed and the top 30 acts were selected. Dalton and Mora were selected to participate in the semifinals. Dalton, Mora and Andrew were able to sing and play at various events and activities associated with the National FFA Convention. Andrew Wuebker auditioned and was selected to sing the National FFA Anthem at the fifth general session of the 95th National FFA Convention.

While at the National FFA Convention besides attending the National FFA Convention sessions members enjoyed: Four Tours; Lilly Pharmaceutical, Cardinal Manufacturing, Heartland, and RSG Reproduction. They also enjoyed Bucca De Peppo, an Italian Restaurant, Fogo De Chao, a Brazilian Steakhouse, Cinch Rodeo at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, and a concert of Russel Dickerson and Mickey Guyton.

A special thank you to members and parents attending included: Hank Smith, Patrick McGlinch, Reid Overholser, Zoe Billenstein, Colin Batten, Luke Batten, Dalton Hesson, Andrew Wuebker, Maggie McGlinch, Camille George, Riley Kruckeberg, Carson Heitkamp, Lucas Timmerman, Hayley Smith, Isaiah Hess, Reagan Winner, Jacob Wuebker, Jeff Wuebker, Doug and Sherri Hesson, Kelly and Jason Billenstein, Michael Barga, Susan Hippley, Mindy and Kevin Kissinger, Dan and Abby York, Heidi and Erick Epperly, Jenny and Bruce Feltz.

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