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Published June 29, 2010, 11:00 AM

ND state FFA drops ambassador post

FARGO, N.D. — The 81st North Dakota FFA Association State Convention in Fargo, N.D., made history June 9 by dropping the state’s “ambassador” post, a carry-over from the “sweetheart” program that had been dropped in 1995.

By: Mikkel Pates, Agweek

FARGO, N.D. — The 81st North Dakota FFA Association State Convention in Fargo, N.D., made history June 9 by dropping the state’s “ambassador” post, a carry-over from the “sweetheart” program that had been dropped in 1995.

“It’s no more!” commented one FFA member late as the organization’s 155 delegates stood in the North Dakota State University Bentson Bunker Field House to make the constitutional bylaw change.

North Dakota FFA President Christine Wanner of Wishek, N.D., brought down the gavel on the unanimous decision by the state’s voting FFA delegates.

Well, it’s almost gone. There won’t be a chapter or district ambassador competition this fall.

Erica Odermann of Belfield, N.D., is the current ambassador — a post that had become gender-neutral in 1995, says Aaron Anderson, state executive secretary. There will be one more state ambassador, who is to be named June 11.

‘Open to change’

A committee of the state officers recommended the change, which had been discussed but not formally proposed before.

Wanner, a sophomore veterinary technologist student at NDSU, says the change includes replacing the ambassador post with an elected parliamentarian position to round out seven constitutional officers for the state organization.

Wanner says she is pleased with the delegates for being “open to change,” as it’s needed. She says one of the logistical issues with the ambassador post was that it was appointed at the chapter level, and then selected in a kind of contest by judge panels at the district and state levels, rather than in a general election.

Both Wanner and Anderson say there has been declining involvement in the position at the local level in recent years, with only half of the eligible regions fielding a suitable candidate for the post at the state level.

Wanner says that few, if any, state organizations other than North Dakota have continued to have either a sweetheart or the ambassador position. She says that while the ambassador position is gender-neutral, most entries have been women. She notes that Andrew Young of Napoleon, N.D., had served as ambassador in the previous year.

Otherwise, the state organization currently elects a president, a vice president and four regional vice presidents. The state officer team later organize themselves to take on extra constitutional roles as treasurer, secretary, reporter and sentinel.

It was the first time running a state convention for Anderson, a 2003 graduate from North Dakota State University in agricultural education. He was hired last fall to take over the post from Doug Vannurden, who retired. A Rugby, N.D., native, he’d recently been teaching in Turtle Lake, N.D.

In the running

About 1,250 FFA members were registered for this year’s state convention. Anderson says about 1,400 people were expected to attend the event, including parents, sponsors and guests.

This years’ Star in Agribusiness finalists were John Sears, Maddock, N.D., in the A.S. Gibbens FFA chapter; Tanasha Krull, Richland 44; Shyla

Wettlaufer, Bottineau, N.D.; and Grayson Spangelo, Hebron, N.D.

Star in Ag Placement finalists were Mitchel Lacher, Richland 44; Kevin Miller, McClusky, N.D.; Heather Peterson, Bottineau; and Tonya Zimmerman, Garrison, N.D.

Starr Farmer finalists are John Faul, McClusky, Mariah Kitzan, Hebron; Jenna Vculek, Oakes/Sargent Central and Vance Zacharias, Enderlin, N.D.

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