'A place to be': Minneasota student embraces ag and state leadership role with FFA
Britton Fuglseth's agricultural career didn't enjoy a promising beginning. When she took her first ag class in seventh grade at Fertile-Beltrami School in northwest Minnesota, her initial reaction was, "This is stupid. I don't want to be here."
But the 18-year-old high school senior now embraces both agriculture and FFA, so much so that she was selected to a Minnesota State FFA leadership post — and even plans to become a high school agricultural education instructor and FFA advisor herself.
Whitney Rupprecht, Fuglseth's FFA advisor at Fertile-Beltrami, says, "I believe Britton was made for this moment. She has done amazing things and shows how a child who doesn't quite fit in can make a huge impact when given the opportunity. I am proud to say that I am her FFA advisor and have had the pleasure to work with her over these last six years."
Fuglseth, who doesn't have a farm background, once played both basketball and volleyball competitively; a torn ACL ended that. Looking for something to fill the void — "a place to be," she says — she found agriculture and FFA increasingly interesting and appealing.
FFA serves young people interested in agriculture and leadership. Founded in 1928 as the Future Farmers of America, the organization changed its name to FFA in 1988 to reflect the growing diversity of the agricultural industry.
Today, FFA's emphasis on leadership, personal growth and career success through ag education is boosting membership nationwide, with much of the growth coming in inner-city chapters in places such as Chicago and New York City. FFA's national membership now stands at about 665,000.
Minnesota FFA has about 11,000 members, a number that state officials say is growing, too.
Her time in FFA has "helped me grow so much as a person. And my leadership skills have grown so much," Fuglseth says.
She's fared well in national and state FFA contests, winning a number of awards. She's also held a food science workshop, served as Minnesota Region 1 FFA Reporter and led multiple workshops for younger members over the past year.
In February, Fuglseth applied for the 2019-2020 Minnesota FFA State Officer Team. She became a finalist and later traveled to the University of Minnesota to complete 10 rounds of interviews and to run for office.
This spring, she was selected 2019-2020 Minnesota FFA State Reporter. She's the first FFA member from Fertile-Beltrami to hold a state leadership post.
Fuglseth's selection was announced at the Minnesota State FFA Convention, which a number of Fertile-Beltrami FFA students attended. "When her name was called, we screamed, cried, jumped, and threw confetti as she ran up on stage in front of 3,000 members," Rupprecht says.
That reflects Fuglseth's ability to inspire others, Rupprecht says.
Fuglseth will be involved in many things over the next year as a state officer. The list includes:
• Attending special training to learn more about public speaking, etiquette and other skills.
• Being a keynote speaker at several FFA and ag events.
• Hosting stage leadership conferences, facilitating workshops and preparing future chapter leaders.
• Attending more professional development training, taking part in industry tours and representing Minnesota FFA at ag events statewide.
"It's going to be an exciting time. I'm looking forward to it," Fuglseth says.
Fuglseth will attend the University of Minnesota Crookston next year, double majoring in ag education and ag communications.
Her goal is to become a high school ag education instructor and FFA advisor in northwest Minnesota, ideally in a school district that doesn't yet have an FFA program, allowing her the opportunity to establish one.
"FFA has become so important to me. I want to help others benefit from it," Fuglseth says.