Helene Keiser

Gothenburg High School boasts an outstanding FFA Chapter, winning numerous awards every year. It is a legacy that was built three decades ago and continues with a new generation of students.

Throughout the school year we will be spotlighting a member of the local FFA Chapter each week. We begin with senior, and chapter president, Helene Keiser.

1) How many years have you been in FFA?

This is my fifth year as a member of the Gothenburg FFA chapter. I started FFA when we started our junior high chapter, and I was in eighth grade at the time.

2) Why did you become involved in FFA?

Being in FFA was never a question of whether I would do it, but rather, when could I start? I am part of the third generation of Keiser's to go through the Gothenburg FFA program. My grandpa Keiser was a part of the early years of the chapter and then my dad and all of his siblings were involved. My two older siblings also played a big part in my involvement with the chapter. Both my sister and brother served on the officer team and helped show me the ropes of being involved with FFA. I love getting to be around friends that share similar interests in agriculture, as well as being able to compete with them at all levels of competition. The leadership from older members and advisors is second to none. Being involved with FFA has given me the opportunity to travel the country, grow myself as a person, and make lifelong friends along the way.

3) What do you enjoy most about your involvement in the chapter?

I enjoy the small moments the most. In our large chapter, it's easy to overlook the small details that happen around us. Whether it's going to Runza with Savannah to get Mrs. Mosel a Dr. Pepper, or jamming out in the van on the ride home from COLT, those small moments may not result in bringing home a plaque or trophy, but those are the moments I remember. No matter how well we do at a contest, or how many people show up to a meeting, there are always the small moments and jokes that I enjoy the most.

4) What has been the highlight of your FFA years so far?

One of my favorite moments was from National Convention my sophomore year. We woke up really early to get on a bus with some other chapters and go to an alpaca farm. All of us were so excited because we were expecting to see rolling hills with fluffy alpacas frolicking on them. On our way there, our bus hit a car and drug it with us on the fender for a little ways. Finally, our bus driver stopped and went out to look at the car. We sat there for almost two hours waiting for them to figure out the situation. By the time we got to the alpaca farm it was snowing and really cold outside. We drove around with the tour guide while she talked to us about the Christian college she was a professor at. We soon realized that we were not going to see rolling hills full of fluffy alpacas. We saw about 10 alpacas that were in a small pen. Then, we went to the gift shop where there were a lot of items made out of alpaca fiber from foreign countries. While we were looking around the shop, Mr. Scherer came up to us with tears rolling out of his eyes. He was laughing so hard about running into the car earlier that day. We reference this memory more than we should in the ag room!

One highlight of my years in competitions comes from this spring. I had the opportunity to compete in the Senior Public Speaking competition. I wrote a 6-8 minute speech, prepared it, and then delivered the speech to judges. The judges then asked me questions for five minutes after the conclusion of my speech. I got second at districts and qualified for the state competition. Due to COVID-19, State Convention was virtual and I had to compete over Zoom. I gave my speech, "Putting the Her in Agriculture '', and was able to win the state competition. The best part of this experience was seeing the support from all of my family, friends, and community members that helped me prepare. I will compete again with this speech at the National level on Sept. 9 virtually. Hopefully, I make it to the semi-finals and get the chance to give it in real life at National Convention in Indianapolis the last week in October.

5) Please share any thoughts about being elected president of the chapter this year.

I am so grateful to be able to serve as the Gothenburg FFA chapter president this year. It is such an honor to be in a leadership role with as large of a chapter that we have. Last year, I served as the chaplain and helped run the junior high program. It's fun to be able to step up into a bigger role and lead the high school chapter this year. My brother was also the president and set high standards for our program. Serving this role gives me the chance to continue to push those standards and make a positive impact on the younger members in our chapter.

6) What are you most looking forward to in FFA this school year?

This year I am mostly looking forward to getting back to traveling and being in person for events. Last year was hard on all of us. We didn't get the chance to travel and meet new people in other chapters, and we didn't get to miss school at all! I am looking forward to the National and State conventions, as well as district competitions and conferences. I am excited to work with the officer team and advisors to build our chapter. I am also looking forward to all the fun memories that we'll make throughout the year!

7)What are your plans after high school?

I am undecided on a college, but I plan to study animal science and ride on an equestrian team somewhere out of state.

Contact Rebecca Steward at rebecca@gothenburgleader.com or call 308.537.9498