Community Salute: FFA team a model for perseverance

Published 6:33 pm Friday, November 4, 2022

When you want something bad enough, a driven person will do what it takes.

That is the overarching message one can draw from the Austin High School Livestock Evaluation team, made up of Riley Hetzel, Gloria Hansen, Cassidy Shute and Abby VanPelt.

Recently, the team competed against over 40 other teams to bring home a silver plaque at the National FFA Convention in late October. Their finish put them squarely in the middle of the pack. From advisors Nick Schiltz and Kim Schechinger, coach John Carroll and all the way down through the team, that finish was a very positive end to a long road for the four students, who won’t be able to compete in this event ever again.

It’s made even better by the challenges they had to overcome. Going back to much earlier in the year, the four rebounded from a seventh place finish in the Region 8 competition to take the state title in livestock evaluation this past spring.

That left them training for the national convention, but they had to do it in an unorthodox way. Both Hetzel and Hansen were off to college when training began, leaving Shute and VanPelt as the only two that could prepare in person and together.

Then there is the rigors of the competition itself followed by the fact that those teams finishing ahead of them were made up predominantly of college students who were going to college for this very thing.

And yet, the team kept pushing and kept moving forward with the individuals of the team winning three silvers and one bronze among them.

All four are passionate about what they accomplished in FFA and serve as a strong model for the younger students making their way up to hopefully follow in their footsteps.

In our estimation, you couldn’t ask for four better examples of perseverance.