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FFA expo details shared with board

FAIRMONT– Nick Pease, Fairmont High School’s ag teacher and FFA leader, briefed the school board on the National FFA Convention and Expo during its meeting on Tuesday. The convention took place in Indianapolis in early November.

Pease said he took seven FHS students by bus to the convention and on the way they picked up students from Granada-Huntley-East Chain, Janesville, Waseca, New Richland and Mankato.

“We only had two extra seats on the entire bus,” Pease said, noting that it was interesting for him to see all of the students mingling with others from different schools.

Before getting to the convention, the students toured a dairy and hog farm.

“Last year we were fortunate to go tour the hog facility, which for the kids from Martin County is not too entertaining because most of these kids, especially the ag students, know what it’s like to work in a hog barn with the high technology,” Pease said.

However, he said that while on the tour of the dairy facility students got to watch the cows be milked and see how the milk is chilled and distributed.

In addition to hearing guest speakers and checking out booths at the convention and expo, students also got to tour a fishery and attend a bull riding completion at the Indiana State Fair Grounds.

“We had a very good time. The rodeo was one of the highlights,” Pease said.

Will Niestrath, an ag student and president of the Fairmont FFA chapter, also spoke about his experience at the convention and expo.

“Walking around the convention center… it’s definitely several acres of enclosed building. John Deere has a huge booth with entire tractors and combines. Case, Tractor Supply and all of big producers in agriculture had a presence there, as well as a lot of colleges,” Niestrath said.

He said that he enjoyed making connections with people and other students and noted that he saw some students who he had met at last year’s convention, too.

Superintendent Andy Traetow commented on Niestrath’s display of leadership over the past year and the impact it has had on other students and the overall FFA program.

On trying to recruit other students to FFA, Niestrath said, “One of the main points we try to get across is you don’t have to live on a farm to be in FFA and be involved. Out of our officer team of seven only two or three live on a farm…. just because you’re not on a farm doesn’t mean you can’t get involved.”

In his report to the board, Traetow said that last week he was able to re-connect with representatives of the Open Door Health Center.

“We had discussed this topic all the way back in August. We’re in collaboration with the district’s legal team to make sure that some of the parameters needed for operations are in place. So we’re re-connecting with them,” Traetow said.

He said next week some of the representative will attend an operations committee meeting and that at a future meeting in January, the board will set a special work session to further discuss the matter.

Traetow also shared that while the Big South Conference has 15 member schools beginning the fall of 2024, it’s still seeking yet one more school district, for a total of 16, to join for the 2025-26 school year.

“We’re hoping to have some clear direction on that within the next couple months,” Traetow said.

Later in the meeting, Traetow spoke some about the ongoing teacher negotiation meetings. He said that a lot of good progress has been made and that they’re close to wrapping up language adjustments and are continuing to make progress on the financial side.

“We’re continuing to move that needle closer. Conversations have been generally positive and there’s been a lot of collaboration between both groups,” Traetow said.

In other news, the board:

— Accepted a grant of $3,000 from Fairmont 3M for the district’s robotics program.

— Accepted a grant of $300 in certificates to each school building from Martin County Pork Producers for meals for teachers on conference evenings.

— Approved the allocation of funds from PIE/Hunt grants in the amount of $13,916 to be used for different classroom needs.

— Approved canceling the Dec. 26 school board meeting.

— Approved the resignations of Abby Ehlert, high school paraprofessional, and Jean Mosloski, elementary administrative support assistant (ASA).

— Approved the employment of Jill Monahan, long-term substitute teacher, Bruel Simpson, evening custodian and Abby Ehlert, ASA.

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