The original charter from the first members of the Tri County FFA will be shown during an open house celebration Nov. 9. 

The Tri County FFA chapter will blow out the big 5-0 candle ahead of its anniversary celebration Nov. 9. 

The celebration is set to take place at Tri County High School, for alumni to reminisce, share stories and enjoy a catered meal. The Wilber Republican spoke with a few alumnus members about their days in the chapter. 

“Back then, it was really the thing to be in if you came from a farm family and were taking ag classes,” FFA alumni Kyle Spilker said. 

Spilker is a 1980 graduate of Tri County. During his four years in FFA, he held office positions including the sentinel and president.

He now farms just three miles outside of DeWitt and his own children were involved in FFA. His son Peter received his American Degree, the highest honor in FFA, at the national convention in Indiana this past week.

Spilker said a fond memory he has of FFA is attending the national conventions, which were held in Kansas City, Missouri, when he was in school. 

“FFA was sort of like a mentoring program for me growing up,” Spilker said.  

Greg Meints, a 1979 Tri County graduate and alumni member, said he is looking forward to the 50th anniversary celebration. 

“Once you get everyone in a room and they start sharing stories, it’s a lot of fun,” he said. 

Meints served as sentinel during his time in the chapter and calls it a great experience, especially his senior year when Tri County was named state champions in FFA. 

All three of his daughters participated in FFA and received their American Degrees as well. 

My eldest daughter said her ag classes and FFA prepared her for college the way no other class did,” Meints said. “You get to see a broad variety of opportunities available.”

Meints is an active alumni member and helps with any FFA events he can. He raises cattle and works at Wells Implement of Plymouth, where he said skills developed in FFA show up to this day. 

Tri County graduate Duane Wollenburg, class of 1972, said being in FFA has helped in more ways than one. 

“With Nebraska being an ag state, it fits right in,” Wollenburg said. “If anything, FFA can allow you to see the opportunities out there and at least get your foot in the door.”

Wollenburg, Meints and Spilker all agree FFA gives students exposure to subjects and possibilities they may not otherwise have. 

It also allows students to learn about the ever-changing agricultural career field. 

“You’ve got finance, vets, horticulture and agronomy, not to mention the social side of it,” Meints said. 

Wollenburg and Spilker said with their careers, they find themselves running meetings in a parliamentary way to this day.

Tri County Public School offers classes in animal science, horticulture/landscaping, agribusiness, 

intro to ag and natural resources/agronomy among others.

All three are active members in the alumni group, with Spilker being the current president. They hope former members come out the day of the anniversary to celebrate and remember old times. 

“Everyone is welcome as we catch up and look to the future,” Meints said.

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