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Grand Rapids FFA students receive state recognition

A group of students in blue FFA jackets take the stage while receiving statewide recognition.
GR MN FFA Facebook page
Grand Rapids FFA member Emma Braford crosses the stage to join Victoria Gunderson and Kaiya Grossman. The three Grand Rapids High School students, who will be seniors next year, were appointed to the 2024-25 FFA State Officer Board.

FFA students from Grand Rapids recently received awards including the historic appointment of three students to the state officer board and the Forest Management and Products Proficiency Award.

GRAND RAPIDS — History was made at the 95th annual FFA convention by members of the Grand Rapids FFA.

Three Grand Rapids students were appointed to statewide leadership roles at the April convention. Emma Braford is the new vice president; Kaiya Grossman is state secretary and Torri Gunderson is state sentinel.

Three high school girls stand in a row in front of a painting of a red bird.
Jennifer Barr
Kaiya Grossman, Emma Braford and Victoria Gunderson from Grand Rapids High School were all recently elected to the state FFA board.

Emma, Kaiya and Torri joined the KAXE Morning Show recently and explained how FFA is a student-led national organization with a focus on leadership and development. Many think of FFA — formerly known as Future Farmers of America — as farm kids, but it isn’t always the case anymore. The program helps students learn and develop passions for almost any career field.

Future study

Kaiya talked about her work with the Minnesota United Student Coalition, a partnership between Grand Rapids and the High School of the Recording Arts to combat mental health and substance abuse issues. The project culminated in writing a bill, following the legislative process and attending a Senate committee hearing.

“It really just made me want to go into politics,” Kaiya said. She’ll be attending the University of North Dakota in the fall to study political science.

Emma was also a part of the legislative process but said, “My heart definitely lies with fish and wildlife.” She grew up in a hunting and fishing atmosphere and will focus on fish and wildlife at the University of Minnesota in Crookston.

For Torri, health care is her passion. She has a goal of working for Doctors Without Borders to merge sustainable mental and physical health care with sustainable agriculture.

“FFA has taught me so much more about communicating with different people, bringing those different backgrounds and celebrating different successes," Torri said.

Forestry award

Sam Connelly was our guest on What’s for Breakfast on Friday, May 17. He told us about his love of coffee, Honey Nut Cheerios and his recent Forest Management and Products Proficiency Award.

“It means a lot. It’s really helped me develop as a person and develop some different strengths in my character.”

For the past four years, Sam has been working with his grandfather on a logging project among his other accomplishments. He’ll be attending the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis/St. Paul to study forestry in the fall.

Listen to Sam's breakfast conversation below.

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Sam Connelly wins the FFA statewide award in forestry
A high school student stands smiling in the blue coat from FFA with an award for forestry.

Do you know students who are working towards their future goals? We’d love to talk with them. Email us!

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Heidi Holtan is KAXE's Director of Content and Public Affairs where she manages producers and is the local host of Morning Edition from NPR. Heidi is a regional correspondent for WDSE/WRPT's Duluth Public Television’s Almanac North.