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Meet our Team

Minnesota FFA Foundation's Board of Trustees are comprised of business and industry professionals from across Minnesota.  All who come together voluntarily to support one cause: engaging partners to build strong Agricultural Education programs across Minnesota.  Supporting Minnesota's youth, one student at a time.

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Message from Board Chair Julie Tesch

How are you connected to the Blue Jacket?

Many of you are former FFA members, parents of current and former FFA members, alumni and friends.

 

No matter how you are tied to the FFA Blue Jacket, your participation matters.  Even if you don't have a direct connection to the FFA Blue Jacket, we welcome your involvement in providing premier leadership opportunities to agricultural education students and teachers. Personally, I didn't have the opportunity to participate in agricultural education and the FFA when I was in high school.  Once I was in college the opportunity came to start volunteering for local and state programs.  This engagement grew into being a judge for public speaking events, joining the FFA Alumni Association, and becoming a donor to the MN FFA Foundation.  Even though I wasn't a past member of the FFA, I personally chose to donate my time, talent and treasure to the Foundation because I could see the direct impact that donor dollars have on our agricultural education students and teachers.  

 

This year alone, with the help of generous donors and sponsors, the MN FFA Foundation will award nearly $350,000 to FFA members, student teachers, agricultural education teachers and supporting organizations.  Nearly every single student at the MN FFA Convention in April was directly impacted by the MN FFA Foundation.  Whether it be from receiving a blue jacket, to the James Tracy Scholarship, to awards for CDE/LDE/Proficiency, and newly chartered chapters receiving welcome kits, the MN FFA Foundation was involved.

 

In 2024 we also marked the milestone of awarding 4,000+ blue jackets through the FFA Blue Jackets, Bright Future program.  Seeing thousands of FFA members proudly wear their FFA blue jackets at state convention is gratifying and a little emotional as well.  These students are proud to wear the jacket and proud to represent their school and state.  The jacket is a constant reminder of hope for the future.

 

I encourage you to become a donor to the MN FFA Foundation. I can promise you that the MN FFA Foundation puts your hard-earned dollars to work investing in Minnesota's current and future leaders.  Remember, it is never too late to become involved in the FFA."

 

Julie Tesch, Board Chair MN FFA Foundation

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Meet our Board of Trustees

Julie Tesch - Board Chair

President & Ceo - Center for Rural Policy & Development

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"I support the MN FFA Foundation because I have witnessed first-hand the impact that their dollars make in the lives of students and teachers.  I know that my donations are being used to help develop the next generation of leaders in agriculture and across America.  It is an honor to be a donor."   - Tesch

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Pat Dingels - Past Chair

Executive Director, Redwood Area Development Corporation & Redwood Area Communities Fund

"The Minnesota FFA Foundation supports the important work of agricultural education and FFA by securing strategic partnerships and financial resources. I am honored to be part of a great team of people who are committed to growing resources to support Minnesota FFA program for all youth,”

Jenny doering - Chair Elect

manager director of animal agriculture, compeer financial services

"I volunteer with FFA because FFA is a foundational opportunity for youth to explore leadership, learning and development for the future of Agriculture.  Our local communities, industries, and country depend on these innovative leaders to feed the world, and I’m humbled to play a small part in their journey." - Doering

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Staci martin - treasurer

Director of Government Relations - AgriBank

"FFA is one of the premier leadership organizations available for young adults. Joining the board was an easy decision. Having the opportunity to support FFA by being part of the Foundation is an honor." - Martin

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Patrice Bailey - Secretary

Assistant commissioner of agriculture - minnesota department of agriculture

"I choose to support Minnesota FFA Foundation because I believe that all students should know about Agriculture and where their food comes from. I choose to serve on the Board of Trustees to elevate why Agriculture is important through out the state."   - Bailey

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Gary Sloan - Executive Sponsors Board Chair

Senior Vice President, Commercial, Food & Agribusiness, BMO Harris Bank

"Today’s typical news stories don’t accurately reflect our communities or want we can be. Minnesota FFA Foundation creates opportunities for people from a variety of backgrounds to grow and engage in agriculture. Being a resource through volunteering with the MN FFA Foundation allows me to make a direct, positive impact in our Ag community." -Sloan

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Lara Durben

Partner - Empowered Events, LLC

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"I feel strongly that we all benefit from the life-long leadership skills and career development the FFA organization provides to students. Serving on the Minnesota FFA Foundation Board of Trustees is a natural fit for me and I’m committed to sharing my passion for agriculture and the opportunities it provides; putting my career experience to good use; and ensuring our state’s agriculture teachers and FFA student have what they need to succeed. When our young leaders are nurtured, our world becomes a better place for it."  -Durben

Peter Grundman

Assistant Controller, CHS

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"My parents are farmers, and I would not be the person I am today without my background in agriculture. I feel called to support the next generation of students- whether it be those in rural Minnesota that may be contemplating how they can make a career in Ag, or those in the city that are yearning for some exposure to it." - Grundman

Mark Jirik

Owner, Valley Feed & Fiber - Minnesota FFA Alumni & Supporters

"I support the MN FFA Foundation because our communities are in need of leadership. FFA is the premier leadership program for young people from all backgrounds in the country. The Minnesota FFA Foundation provides the financial support to make that happen.."  - Jirik

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Erin Larson

Human Resources, Riverview, LLP

"The pillars of the Minnesota FFA Foundation run parallel to pillars I was raised around in my family, community and career. I'm grateful it's a natural fit to be part of. By supporting the MN FFA Foundation, I have the opportunity to see and be part of the impact financial contributions provides to students and agricultural education programs as these leaders grow into working professionals and agricultural enthusiasts"  - Larsen

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Bruce Mathiowetz

Instructor, South West Metro School

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"As a career Agriculture Educator, I know how important FFA is in the development of students' lives. The FFA Foundation helps FFA members and their advisors by providing resources so that as a teacher I can focus on my students' growth."  - Mathiowetz

Paula Mohr

Former Editor, The Farmer Magazine

"I support the MN FFA Foundation because I believe in agricultural education and efforts to expose student learners to ag-related careers. FFA is the ‘icing on the cake’ for ag students, allowing them the opportunity to delve deeper as individuals and grow as future leaders who will contribute to their communities." - Mohr

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Nathan Purrington

Agricultural Education Program Lead / Lecturer, University of Minnesota Crookston

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"The FFA has provided many opportunities to me not only as a high school student, but in my succeeding career as an Agricultural Educator as well. I proudly support the FFA as I have experienced numerous youth achieving goals and earning honors that would not have been possible without the FFA.  The Minnesota FFA Foundation continues to provide the resources necessary to enable our youth to develop their leadership, build their careers and realize their dreams."   -- Purrington

Dr.Lavyne Rada

Executive Director, Minnesota FFA Association

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"The Minnesota FFA Foundation provides opportunities in agricultural education at all levels. I am a product of agricultural education and I am proud to be part of a group that ensures the future of agriculture continues to thrive." - Rada

Joe Serbus

Chair, Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council

"Living in rural America is very important to me and agriculture is a great way of life-I believe the rewards to our youth are unlimited- it is very rewarding to me to concentrate my efforts in helping to educate and help attract our next generation of agriculture leaders to a way life I love."   -Serbus

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Lauren Stoel

State FFA President, Minnesota FFA Association

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Jasmine Stringer

Founder, Carpe Diem with Jasmine

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"I’ve witnessed first hand how FFA prepares students to thrive outside the classroom, on the farm and off the farm. Agriculture is extremely important to our states economy and we need to support and develop the next generation of agriculture  leaders." -Stringer

Mat Vaupel

Owner, Vaupel Farms

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Valerie Velde

Regional Customer Operations Manager, Purina Animal Nutrition, division of Land O'Lakes, Inc

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"As an FFA member I received an FFA Foundation scholarship at a time that I needed that support.  Today I can serve on the board to raise funds for the next generation.  There are students with financial needs in MN.  Our state foundation is a powerful force to help students achieve their FFA dreams and prepare themselves for amazing career success!"   -Velde

Gary Wertish

President, Minnesota Farmers Union

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Christa Williamson

Past President, Minnesota Association of Agriculture Educators, Ag Instructor

Meet our Executive Sponsors Board

Gary Sloan - Executive Sponsors Board Chair

Senior Vice President, Commercial, Food & Agribusiness, BMO Harris Bank

"Today’s typical news stories don’t accurately reflect our communities or want we can be. Minnesota FFA Foundation creates opportunities for people from a variety of backgrounds to grow and engage in agriculture. Being a resource through volunteering with the MN FFA Foundation allows me to make a direct, positive impact in our Ag community." -Sloan

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Bill Stevens

Relationship Management Specialist, AgriBank

"I support the MN FFA Foundation because I believe in agricultural education and efforts to expose student learners to ag-related careers. FFA is the ‘icing on the cake’ for ag students, allowing them the opportunity delve deeper as individuals and grow as future leaders who will contribute to their communities." -Stevens

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Mark Davis

President, Cambria

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Jeff Grev

Vice President of Legislative Affairs, Hormel Foods

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Rod Hebrink

Former CEO, Compeer Financial Services

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Dan Kohls

Services Consultant, Form-A-Feed, Inc

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Dave Ladd

President, RDL & Associates

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"I support the MN FFA Foundation because I believe in agricultural education and efforts to expose student learners to ag-related careers. FFA is the ‘icing on the cake’ for ag students, allowing them the opportunity delve deeper as individuals and grow as future leaders who will contribute to their communities." - Ladd

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