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Mauston FFA FIRE Conference attendees from left to right: Dravan Robinson, Emily Patton, Olivia Lulich, Dawson Firlus, along with State FFA President, Brenna Bays.

Dawson Firlus, Olivia Lulich, Emily Patton and Dravan Robinson of the Mauston FFA Chapter attended the Wisconsin Association of FFA FIRE Conference on Sept. 24 at the UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Campus.

FIRE stands for “Foundations in Reaching Excellence.” The conference helps young FFA members discover opportunities in the FFA organization and gain valuable leadership skills. This is one of three conferences held around Wisconsin for seventh, eighth and ninth grade FFA members. All of Mauston’s attendees are currently freshman at Mauston High School. Over 600 members will attend these three conferences over three weekends statewide.

The State FFA FIRE Conference is designed to inform beginning FFA members about the FFA and motivate them to participate in its many activities. Students learned about communication skills, social skills, goal setting, FFA awards and programs, and opportunities in agriculture along with developing leadership skills to help them be effective members in their local chapters.

The conference is conducted by the 2016-17 State FFA Officer Team along with assistance from the UW-Madison Collegiate FFA. The conference centered on the theme “Building Your Foundation-One Brick at a Time.” All of the state officers encouraged students that attended the FIRE Conference to set goals for their FFA involvement and meet people from around the state who can help them reach those goals.

Not only does this conference help students understand the FFA Organization and all its opportunities, but helps them develop skills in meeting people, working with others and setting goals with a plan of action. “In the FFA, we assist members starting in seventh grade to develop skills they will need for future careers and opportunites,” said Cheryl Zimmerman, State FFA Executive Director. “FFA develops the whole person and these young members are taking a step in the right direction.”

The Wisconsin FFA Association is comprised of more than 250 local chapters with over 20,000 members gaining leadership for the future of agriculture. FFA activities and award programs complement instruction in agriculture education by giving students practical experience in the application of agricultural skills and knowledge gained in classes. FFA’s mission is to develop members’ potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.