Seniors highlight W-M FFA banquet

By Theo Tate
Posted 5/9/24

Even though Bethany Slovensky was a Wellsville-Middletown FFA member for a short time, she was very valuable to the chapter.

Just four months ago, she placed second in the Missouri Forest …

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Seniors highlight W-M FFA banquet


Even though Bethany Slovensky was a Wellsville-Middletown FFA member for a short time, she was very valuable to the chapter.

Just four months ago, she placed second in the Missouri Forest Products Association FFA Public Speaking Contest. When she was a junior, she helped a floriculture team qualify for state competition.

On May 3, Slovensky was one of five W-M seniors being honored during the school’s FFA banquet that was held at the high school gymnasium.

“I really enjoyed it because I have never been to an FFA banquet before,” Slovensky said. “It was a new experience.”

During the final minutes of the banquet, Slovensky, Jenelle Boeckelman, Meagan Cripe, Caden Gilbert and Kristi Hager hung up their blue jackets at a coat rack and were handed roses to give to their parents. Slovensky said that moment was emotional for her.

“It was very touchy,” she said. “Four years ago, I had no idea how FFA would strongly impact me. As (adviser Emily) Holbert was talking about me, I started tearing up because she has made a huge impact in my life. While hanging up my jacket, even though it wasn’t my jacket, I did so much in (FFA) and it did so much for me.”

A dinner was served and awards were given out during the two-hour banquet. The chapter named Brian Boeckelman and Carrie Nelson were honorary FFA members and announced next year’s officer team that includes president Maddi Poage, vice-president Helenea McKenzie, secretary Rachel Davis, treasurer Abbie Freie, reporter Kylie Allison, sentinel Leah Kleinsorge and chaplain Kara Freie.

Gilbert and Cripe were sentinel and reporter, respectively, for the 2023-24 school year. Each of them talked about their experiences with the W-M FFA.

Gilbert joined the W-M FFA in his junior year after going to Troy Buchanan High School the last two years. He and Boeckelman earned state FFA degrees a month ago at the state convention.

“Soon after I started at Wellsville, I realized that I fitted right in and I made friends quicker than I thought,” Gilbert said. “At Troy, I wasn’t as involved with FFA as I am now. I helped with sales and getting events set up, but that was it. That quickly changed after I moved and joined the FFA at Wellsville.”

Cripe, who plans to attend State Technical College next year, discussed what wearing the blue jacket meant to her.

“The jacket unifies members in a long-standing tradition and reminds them that they are part of something bigger than themselves,” Cripe said. “The FFA jacket has shown me that I can achieve anything I can set my mind to. During my freshman year, I never thought in a million years that I would be able to go to state in floriculture and sing in front of thousands of people at one of the biggest stages in FFA.”

Another senior, Shelby Frank, was also a member of the W-M FFA. All six seniors are scheduled to graduate from W-M on May 10.

Throughout her four years at W-M, Slovensky has been a pretty active athlete as she competed in cross country, basketball and track and received many awards.

When she was a junior, Slovensky decided to add FFA to her busy schedule. She was part of a floriculture team – which also included Cripe and now-graduates Carly Henderson and Libby Kleinsorge – that placed 11th at state.

“In my junior year, I took greenhouse and I fell in love with it,” Slovensky said. “I got to do the floriculture team. Mrs. Holbert convinced me to be part of the floriculture team.”

This year, Slovensky advanced to state competition after placing first in districts in the forestry category. At the state event on Jan. 9 at Jefferson City, Slovensky finished second to Madilynn Cook of Forsyth and earned $150.

“It was insane because I have never done anything like that,” Slovensky said. “When I got to state, I was looking around and everyone had their blue jackets on and they were people who were in it all four years and worked so long for it. This was my first time and it was very nerve-racking.”

Holbert said Slovensky’s contributions to the W-M FFA chapter were outstanding.

“This young lady is not only motivated and driven, but is one of the kindest and most caring students that I had the pleasure of teaching,” Holbert said.

Slovensky, who plans to compete in track at State Fair Community College next year, said she is going to miss not only being in FFA, but also working with Holbert and co-adviser Audrey McDowell. Next year, Holbert will be working at Warrenton, while McDowell plans to be a stay-at-home mom.

“I’m so thankful that they spent their time here in Wellsville,” Slovensky said. “I just know that they’re going to do such great things.”


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