Decorah FFA celebrates 75 years

DECORAH, Iowa — Decorah FFA’s officer team learned about their families’ FFA legacy while organizing the chapter’s 75th anniversary celebration.

Chapter reporter Shelby Cornelius, the anniversary led to sharing memories with  his father, Mike, and grandfather Art Cornelius.

"We suddenly realized that we’d all been Decorah FFA officers," Cornelius said.

Art graduated in 1958 and was chapter secretary and treasurer. Mike was reporter and president. Cornelius has been reporter for two years and was assistant officer.

Cornelius’ older brother, Marty, was in FFA and earned his Iowa FFA Degree. So was his mother, Sue. His father’s two sisters were in FFA and so was his grandpa’s brother.


"FFA has been a family thing, and I’m glad I got to be a part of that experience," Cornelius said. "FFA has really helped me develop my leadership qualities and public speaking skills. Being involved in FFA has been an important part of my life."

When president and senior Adam Sacquitne talked to his family about the 75th anniversary, he learned that his grandfather Everett Sollien, who farms in northern Winneshiek County, was a Decorah FFA member.

Sacquitne’s older brother was an FFA officer.

Sacquitne shows beef cattle at the county and state fair and received his Iowa FFA Degree in 2011.

"FFA is about becoming premier leaders," Sacquitne said.

He will attend Northeast Iowa Community College and then transfer to Iowa state University to major in ag business.

Senior Andrew Luzum is assistant officer. Last year he was one of the top four ag sales participants in the state and received a gold rating. He also received his Iowa FFA Degree in 2011.

Luzum’s grandfather David Lensch, a 1957 graduate, was a Decorah FFA officer, something Luzum didn’t know until they started talking about the anniversary. Luzum’s twin brothers Aric and Isaac are freshmen and they joined FFA this year.


Kilah Hemesath’s father, Keith, was in FFA. She and her father looked at all his pictures in old chapter scrapbooks during the anniversary celebration. Two of Hemesath’s older brothers were in FFA for four years and another brother was in FFA for two years. Her oldest brother, Mitch, received his American FFA Degree. Her youngest brother will join FFA when he’s old enough.

Hemesath is proud that Johanna Seegmiller of Decorah was the first female member in the Iowa FFA Association in 1969.

"It’s very impressive that our chapter is 75 years old," Hemesath said.

Hemesath said advisor Rick Twedt has been a great role model.

"He kept FFA and ag going when our chapter faced tough times during the farm crisis," she said.

"He’s the unsung hero of our chapter," Cornelius said. "People don’t realize the time and effort he puts into the job."

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