FFA fish and wildlife team earns trip to state convention

The Chatfield FFA fish and wildlife team consists of, from left, Ashlee Maker, Shelby Isensee, Hunter Hobbs and Kyle VanDeWalker. SUBMITTED PHOTO
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“It’s challenging to identify the different species,” stated Chatfield High School senior Kyle Van De Walker, a member of the FFA fish and wildlife career development event (CDE) team.

He and teammates Ashlee Maker and Shelby Isensee attended the Minnesota State FFA Convention April 22 to 24 to compete in contests that tested team members’ knowledge of the great outdoors. 

Van De Walker has been an FFAer for six years and became a member because, like many others, he had been told how much fun it would be. Also, his father encouraged him to join. 

“I chose this CDE because I enjoy hunting and fishing, and I enjoy being a part of the team and learning about species that I might not otherwise get to learn about,” he said. “It’s rewarding learning from others that are stronger in other areas than I and learning how to work with others, and I was ready to compete…not worried about it.  I was just going to enjoy it for what it is and do my best.  Our team always tries our best and it took a lot of hard work over several years to qualify for state.” 

The reward for earning a trip to state is his favorite part — hanging out with his friends.

Maker, also senior, has been an FFAer for five years and chose to join the organization to become more involved with her community.  The fish and wildlife CDE appealed to her because it offered new information. 

“I like to learn about animals and how they play roles in our everyday life.  It’s useful to identify insects and knowing whether they are safe or not,” she said.  “The challenges of competing are having anxiety with all of the other people you’re competing against, but the rewarding part is the group efforts we all put together and learning new things about each other.” 

FFA has taught her leadership skills and meeting new people has provided interesting experiences, she added. Her favorite part of state convention has been being able to connect with and meet new people. 

Isensee, a junior, has been in FFA for three years now, and she joined the fish and wildlife team because she loves the outdoors and it widens her knowledge of wildlife. A bonus, she added, is she gets to meet people who have the same interests as her. 

“Working as a team teaches us problem-solving and critical thinking and helps us to work together with our strengths and weaknesses to help us all grow and become better,” she said.

“We have worked hard to get to state, and we plan to keep working hard so we can proudly represent Chatfield FFA,” said Isensee. “I’m always ready to compete because confidence is key…we have worked really hard to make it to state and continue to work hard while still having fun.”