STAPLES -- Jacqueline Bueckers of Cushing is the first student from the Staples-Motley High School to ever become a finalist for the National FFA Proficiency Award.
Bueckers, the daughter of Norb and Jan Bueckers of Cushing and a 2001 Staples graduate, was selected as a finalist for the national award in home and community development. She is one of four finalists.
"Not many students have this opportunity," said Kerry Lindgren, FFA adviser. "There are a half million FFA members in the nation so it's hard to explain what this means to her. It's like you're down to getting the Heisman in football."
Bueckers was not the only Staples student, however, to become a FFA national finalist. Students who reach nationals are selected in four categories -- silver, bronze, gold and the top four.
Jeremy Triepke, a senior at Staples-Motley High School, transplanted Christmas trees, shelterbelt and windbreak plantings at Gene's Tree Farm near Staples. His job duties helped him earn a gold ranking for the National FFA Proficiency Award.
Jeremy Triepke, the son of James and Carolyn Triepke of Staples and a Staples senior, was awarded gold ranking for the national award in forest management and products.
The proficiency awards recognize outstanding student achievement in agribusiness gained through establishment of a new business, working for an existing company or otherwise gaining hands-on career experience.
The students will travel to Louisville, Ky., in October for the National FFA convention.
Bueckers and Triepke are members of the Staples-Motley FFA chapter and became eligible for the national award after winning the state FFA competition earlier this year. As a finalist, Bueckers will receive a plaque and $250 and Triepke will earn a plaque and $100. Both will be eligible for $250 during the convention in October.
"I never expected it," said Bueckers about being a finalist. "I just expected to go down there (to nationals)."
Bueckers earned this recognition by working around home. She cut the grass, set up flower beds and a garden. She also helped her family remodel the house, that included installing new cupboards, floors, ceiling and reshingling the roof.
"I wanted to learn so when I have my own place I have the knowledge to do it," she said.
Bueckers decided to go through the process to reach nationals to give herself a chance to show others that it is possible.
"Other people don't realize that you can do more in FFA than just a career development event," she said.
Bueckers also volunteered on the Blandin Foundation's lifelong learning committee. She served on the Staples Community Foundation Board and will serve on this board for another three years.
Bueckers joined FFA in 1998 and was part of the forestry team. She had to identify leaves, wood, equipment parts and learn how to read a map.
She is enrolled at Northwest Technical College in Wadena this fall to major in child care and early education.
"I like working with children and being involved with the community," she said.
Triepke has been a FFA member since he was in 10th grade and joined the career development contest where he planted trees. He then got a job at Gene's Tree Farm near Staples. At the farm he inspected trees for diseases and bugs and took care of the trees.
Triepke is not sure what he wants to do after high school graduation, but said he may consider something in forest management.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.