MFL MarMac alumna earns American Degree—FFA’s highest achievement

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MFL MarMac alumna Macie Weigand (front, center) has earned the coveted American Degree, the highest level of membership that can be achieved in FFA. Weigand was recognized at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Ind., in late October. Afterward, she posed with current MFL MarMac FFA members Dacia Schoulte (front, left), Mindy Keehner, Shelby Mielke, Sydney Moser; (back) Landon Johnson, Dusty Berns, Mason Kishman and Tyler Zuercher. (Submitted photos)

Weigand is pictured with MFL MarMac agriculture teacher and FFA adviser Sarah Wille. “This is the highest accomplishment for Macie and our chapter,” Wille said. “It’s a testament to who she is as a person.”

By Audrey Posten, Times-Register

 

MFL MarMac alumna Macie Weigand has earned the coveted American Degree, the highest level of membership that can be achieved in FFA.

 

Weigand was recognized at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Ind., in late October. 

 

“Being able to walk across the stage was awesome,” she described. “I’d been to convention as a junior and senior [in high school] and thought I probably wouldn’t get the opportunity because so few get to.”

 

According to the National FFA Organization, the American Degree is awarded each year to less than 1 percent of FFA members. Agriculture teacher and FFA adviser Sarah Wille said Weigand is the first student from either MFL or MarMac to earn the honor since 1985—and the only student since the schools combined.

 

As the highest degree achievable in the National FFA Organization, the American FFA Degree shows a member’s dedication to his or her chapter and state FFA association, as well as their leadership abilities and community involvement. 

 

Recipients must meet several requirements, including earning their state FFA degree, which Weigand did in 2019, before graduating from MFL MarMac. Students must also continue their education in an agricultural program and continue and invest in a supervised agricultural experience (SAE), through which they exhibit comprehensive planning and managerial and financial expertise.

 

Weigand earned an agricultural science associate degree—and also participated in livestock judging—at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas, and is now finishing up an animal science degree at Kansas State University.

 

“I’m looking to do my master’s in animal science and focus on nutrition or reproduction,” she shared.

 

For her SAE, Weigand had an internship at the Postville Veterinary Clinic. She’s also working on her own home operation, breeding and showing beef cattle. 

 

“We have around 15 to 20 cows and heifers, and we’re at the point where we’re raising and selling all our own stock,” she said.

 

The SAE requires the student to earn at least $10,000 and productively invest $7,500, or earn and productively invest $2,000 and work 2,250 hours.

 

“She started in high school and had until her third year of college to complete it,” said Wille, “so she’s actually done a year earlier than the deadline.”

 

Weigand said fellow students shouldn’t let time and financial commitments deter them from working toward the American Degree.

 

“People are scared they won’t make enough hours to complete the goal, but I wasn’t really working for the hours. It was just daily stuff I do—what I love to do,” she explained. “If you’re passionate about your SAE, project or job, the hours come so easily.”

 

“The paperwork is actually the hardest part,” Weigand remarked. “But when you sit down and fill out the paperwork, it helps you see how far you’ve come and set more goals for the future.”

 

Weigand said FFA has been an integral part of her life. After growing up in 4-H, where she cultivated an interest in agriculture and gained leadership skills, she was able to dive in further through FFA.

 

“I was able to compete and found a lot I was looking for in school and job opportunities,” she said. “It’s been close to my heart and I wanted to work my tail off to achieve the highest status in FFA.”

 

Wille, who helped Weigand apply for the degree and keep on track with the requirements, called her student an integral part of the district’s FFA program. She said the achievement can inspire younger members.

 

“It was neat for my students to see Macie on the biggest stage in agriculture, at convention. A lot of them know her, or remember her,” Wille said. “It’s something to strive for and see what can be accomplished.”

 

“I love watching my students succeed,” she continued. “This is the highest accomplishment for Macie and our chapter. It’s a testament to who she is as a person.”

 

Weigand has always wanted to guide others, similar to how older FFA members motivated her.

 

“One of my goals, when I ran for leadership roles, was always to give back and be a role model,” she said. “I enjoy setting the example that, through hard work and determination, the sky is the limit. Goals are achievable.”

 

With Wille at the helm, Weigand is excited to see what MFL MarMac’s FFA chapter achieves next—including more American Degrees.

 

“You have to get an Iowa Degree first, and we’ve had a steady flow of those,” Wille said. “I hope they continue to keep up their studies, then we can see them walking across the stage too.”

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