Of thousands of FFA program members in the U.S. fewer than one percent will qualify for the top level achievement possible-- the American Degree. This year one of those recipients is a Chisago Lakes High School grad.
Isabelle Lindahl was recently recognized for obtaining an American Degree from FFA by working really hard at being a standout future farmer. Or, future ag financier, or maybe even both.
Lindahl is a junior at the University of Minnesota working on a double major in Agriculture and Food Business Management and Animal Science. Her favorite memories of high school FFA would have to be the national conventions, two in Louisville Kentucky and one in Indianapolis. She recalls the host cities put out the welcome mat, with country music concerts for the attendees, as well as the traditional slate of ag-related programs and networking opportunities, and exposure to other FFA members from all over the nation. “It was the highlight of the year,” she adds.
The 93rd conference this year was held virtually, October 27-29.
Lindahl had to literally decide years ago to try to meet a rigorous set of requirements for the FFA American Degree. The FFA has 8,700 chapters in the 50 states, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. A set of three “chapter” degrees are obtainable in high school. Then you can earn a state degree from the association, and when these are all checked off, you go after the American Degree, after graduation.
The degree calls for the participant to invest $10,000 and run a business, make a certain success of it, and also work in community service efforts. Finances in the member’s “animal enterprises” are documented and submitted for review by the degree committee. All expenditures and revenue need to be tied to the projects chosen. This program is sponsored by Case IH, Elanco Animal Health and Syngenta. I
sabelle followed the old adage-- do what you know.
She raised market lambs she bought as pairs in spring and focused on nutrition and an exercise regimen to end up with healthy valuable animals. She also bought her first Jersey heifer in 2016 with a national FFA grant, and has a small herd now from that first project.
Lindahl loves the farm life and hopes someday to have her onw farmstead. She’s right there with George Washington, who is quoted as having said something to the effect that he’d rather be on his farm than be emperor of any country.
Pursuing the American Degree opened so many opportunities which Lindahl has been happy and fortunate to explore.
For the community service component to earn the degree she volunteered with Second Harvest Heartland food program, worked setting up career fairs through the university and worked Zion Church, Chisago City, Monday night meals. She racked up 250 hours and the requirement was for 50. She has also worked as a library assistant at the U of M to maintain an AgEcon Search database and she put in time at the sheep barn on campus. Plus, she milks at her family’s farm north of Center City in her spare time.