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Zuercher elected an FFA district officer

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MFL MarMac sophomore Caleb Zuercher is the new Northeast Sub-district Vice President, after being one of six students elected as an officer at Iowa’s Northeast District FFA Convention on March 9. (Submitted photo)

By Audrey Posten, Times-Register

 

MFL MarMac sophomore Caleb Zuercher is the new Northeast Sub-district Vice President, after being one of six students elected as an officer at Iowa’s Northeast District FFA Convention on March 9.

 

Zuercher was encouraged to run by agriculture teacher and FFA adviser Sarah Plaht. He’s an active FFA member, serving as chapter treasurer, attending many career and leadership development events and contests and exhibiting at the state fair. Zuercher is currently working on four supervised agricultural experiences (SAEs)—the Zuercher Farms row crop operation, trailer building with Zuercher Ag Sales, hands-on mechanics with Palas Service and Repair and his own small business, CZ Lawn and Snow. He also serves as his 4-H club’s treasurer and president of the MFL MarMac class of 2026 and is active in his church.

 

All this information was included in an application, then Zuercher completed a basic knowledge test and was one of 24 sophomores and juniors who interviewed for 12 spots on the ballot.

 

“How they score you, the application is worth so much, the test is worth so much and then your interview is worth so much to get on the ballot,” Zuercher explained. “Once you’re on the ballot, you prepare a two-minute speech and answer two interview questions in front of the sub-district.”

 

Zuercher’s speech content drew on his youth, his interest in FFA over sports and the power of the human network.

 

“Sometimes it’s not what you know, but the people you know,” he said. “I also talked about how we all have a story of how we’re connected through a common passion of agriculture.”

 

As a district officer, he pledged to help FFA members add to their own stories through the FFA experience.

 

Roughly 50 students listened to the speech, weighing Zuercher against his competitor. Two delegates from each school across the district cast ballots.

 

Zuercher is honored to have been elected by his peers.

 

“It means to me that my leadership skills are capable to take on this position and I will further my leadership skills and fulfill this position to my fullest,” he shared.

 

Officer terms began March 9 and will continue through March 2025. Zuercher said several Zoom sessions are preparing the students for their new roles, and all district officers from across the state will attend leadership training in Ankeny on March 29 and April 6.

 

As a district officer, Zuercher said he will help plan district-hosted events, then work with others so activities run smoothly.

 

“He’ll probably have to put on a workshop at the Greenhand Fire-Up that comes up every fall [for new FFA members],” according to Plaht. “He’ll do some chapter visits as well. He’ll get to go to schools and hang out with FFA chapters, lead them through leadership workshops and promote FFA.”

 

Zuercher believes his experience as an officer will aid him in future leadership roles as well as jobs.

 

“You have to show up on time, you have to get your work done in a timely manner, you have to fulfill your duties to the best of your ability. That’s what I’m trying to do now,” he said.

 

Zuercher also hopes this will inspire other members to get involved at the chapter level—or beyond.

 

“I always pick out what people are good at. I pick on the freshmen a little bit, like ‘Hey, you’re good at that. Let’s do this event. Let’s go to state convention,’” he shared.

 

Plaht has seen this first-hand, noting Zuercher’s natural ability to connect with others.

 

“It means more coming from the students trying to get them involved than it does coming from me. Our officers have been good at that as a whole,” she said.

 

If others are interested in becoming a district officer, Zuercher encourages them to put their best foot forward by filling out the application and practicing interview questions. Learn how to sell yourself.

 

“Talk about what’s been a success, and talk about your challenges, because that’s what makes you a person. Create a story and tell that story really well,” he explained.

 

Plaht is proud of Zuercher for taking this step and showing students in the chapter it can be done. 

 

“For Caleb, yes, it’s a huge honor, but it’s also a huge responsibility. People don’t sign up to be district officer for them. It’s for others. It’s a year of service,” she stated. “I’m excited for him to grow professionally and as a person with this experience. He’s a good representative of our chapter and now our district. It will be a year he won’t forget.”

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