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Potthoff recounts busy year as state FFA officer

Nic Potthoff, a U of M student and graduate of Martin County West High School, is wrapping up a year as state FFA vice president.

University of Minnesota and former Martin County West student Nic Potthoff recently celebrated a milestone when he wrapped up a one-year term as the Minnesota FFA vice president.

The position carries a large time commitment, and Potthoff was happy to recount his experiences over the past year.

“The application for state office starts around February, and that’s due March 1, and that took a lot of working on essay questions to make sure that what I wanted to say was correct. I’m thankful to Bob Roesler because I did a lot of work with him on that.

“Then the interview process happens at the state convention in April, and that’s a three-day process of about 15 rounds of interviews. Then I was elected on April 30, 2019.

“The first couple of things I did in office was we had a base camp training, which is about learning about strengths and team dynamics, as well as going over rules and expectations and setting goals for the year. Then the next part was learning about facilitation and communication skills.

“The first official order of business was our state conferences in the summer. Our first conference was our freshmen leadership conference in the second week of June, and then there was a week-long break before we had two sessions of what we call our state leadership conference.”

After the conferences, the rest of the summer saw Potthoff deal with commitments from FarmFest, and helping with the State Fair and livestock shows.

“We took a trip to Nashville to record a couple episodes of FFA today, which I would say is one of my highlights,” he said.

After the summer, Potthoff said they picked up some chapter visits around the state. He went north to Park Rapids, Breckenridge, Staples, Motley and Wadena.

“The rest of our commitments during that time involved a lot of social media work, such as planning Instagram posts and connecting with other members on social media,” he noted.

“In October, we had a lot to do at the national convention. We took a lot of pictures with members, and going to sessions and cheering on our members, but we also had the delegate process, where we were voting on proposals from states and seeing if they should be put in the FFA bylaws and constitution. There was a lot of talk about how we could improve FFA in general.”

In early January, the state officer team attended an international leadership seminar.

“So six of us went to Spain and Portugal for a couple of weeks, where we got to visit some farmers,” Potthoff said. “We went to a cattle farm and a couple of vegetable farms and we visited some of the main cities there, which was a really cool experience.”

After those experiences, it would only be a few short months before the full impact of COVID-19 was felt.

“January through March was a lot of convention planning along with FFA week, which we did a little bit with on social media,” he said. “Then March is where things didn’t go so well. We would have done more chapter visits, but since we couldn’t do that, it was just brainstorming new ways to do conventions and new ways to be active with members.”

Potthoff said the overall experience was rewarding, and noted he was thankful to his FFA chapter.

“The way I started getting interested in state office was by attending one of the state leadership conferences,” he noted. “I saw the impact that state officers had on other students and on me, and I ended up becoming a chapter officer and a region officer. It was my advisers, Stephanie Wohlhuter, and Jeremy and Jessica Daberkow, that kept encouraging me to go beyond what I thought I was capable of, and I’m thankful that I had great advisers who pushed me to do better.”

Wohlhuter, agriscience teacher and FFA adviser at Martin County West, offered some thoughts on her former student.

“I am so proud of Nic and his development as a leader over the past seven years in FFA,” she said. “His passion for the FFA was obvious to everyone he encountered, and he worked very hard to help others find their place in the FFA organization. He was a phenomenal representative of Martin County West and Minnesota FFA over the past year as the Minnesota state vice president.”

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