Marysville FFA hopes to make town proud as it recovers from tornado

By Bryan Richardson

After a tornado damaged their town on Monday, students from the Marysville High School FFA chapter came to Manhattan this week seeking high standing among their peers.

The Marysville and Wabaunsee chapters were among the 17 FFA chapters across the state up for the Triple Crown award at the 85th Kansas FFA Convention.

This award, which was to be given Friday afternoon, goes to the top chapter in Kansas in the areas of student, chapter and community development.

Marysville was hit Monday night with an EF-2 tornado, which produced winds from 111 to 135 mph. It damaged a total of 30 farms and homes and three businesses.

The tornado caused no major injuries, but it affected some of the Marysville FFA members. The tornado hit the house of one member’s grandparents. Another member’s dad worked at the John Deere retailer - Oregon Trail Equipment - which was damaged and will have to be rebuilt.

Craig Lister, one of the chapter’s advisers, stayed behind to help with the cleanup efforts.

David Luebcke, 2013-14 chapter president, said that’s the type of thing that needs to be done after an incident like Monday’s storm. “Everyone’s got to pitch in for those affected,” he said.

Eleven of the chapter’s 89 members came to Manhattan for the convention, which took place Wednesday through Friday. The students had a chance to learn and also to enjoy themselves.

Coleman Forst, 2013-14 treasurer, said he enjoyed the dance Wednesday and the chance to meet new friends as well as catch up with old ones. “This is about the only time we get to see them throughout the year,” he said.

Even if they don’t win the Triple Crown, the members said it’s already an honor to be in the top 17 out of the state’s 162 active FFA chapters. Martin Howard, 2012-13 Northeast district president, said the chapter placed 12th last year and have been ranked fairly high in the past.

“It’s a real prestigious award,” he said. “It shows your chapter is promoting agriculture in the community in a positive way.”

Jacque Gabbert, the other Marysville adviser, said she’s proud of the chapter for the year they’ve done. “The kids put in a lot of hard work throughout the year,” she said. “When they get recognized, it’s a great thing.”

Danny Davis, the Wabaunsee FFA chapter adviser, is just as proud of his kids. “It’s a sense of accomplishment knowing your hard work paid off, and you’re one of the best chapters in the state,” he said.

Davis said the chapter has been up for the Triple Crown three of the last four years. He attributed the chapter’s excellence to the kids and working with a good community.

Davis said a highlight for the Wabaunsee FFA chapter is its Earth Day activities, which involves presenting to 300 grade school children.

For the Marysville chapter, Howard said a highlight is its 40-acre pasture, which is leased from Frontier Farm Credit. He said students run steers during the summer and do things such as vaccinate, castrate, tag and sell the animals.

“You learn about the beef industry and how it operates,” Howard said.

The convention provides an opportunity for the students who attend to compete and interact with each other, participate in leadership workshops, listen to speakers and be recognized for their accomplishments.

Davis said he hopes the Wabaunsee students come back from the convention refreshed and inspired.

“Hopefully they come back more motivated next year and want to compete even harder and gain some life lessons not only for FFA but other aspects in life,” he said.

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