Western Dubuque High School FFA members attended the 92nd National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis, Ind., Oct. 30 through Nov. 2. Several students were named national champions as a team.

Trenton Hammerand, Grace Strief, Regan Demmer and Madison Strief finished as the top Horse Evaluation Team. A total of 47 teams representing 46 states and Puerto Rico competed in this year’s contest.

“The team’s reaction was one of joy and relief,” said Luke Rauen, advisor. “After waiting patiently for each team to be read along with each team member, there were only two left. Upon the reading of the second-place team from Minnesota, we knew we were the only team left and had won.”

This is the second national championship team in Western Dubuque FFA history. The 1968 Dairy Team of Dennis Reisner, Bob Feldman, Bill Schwendinger and coach S.A. Ossian are the only other champions in the program’s history.

All of the team members received a gold rating and a $1,000 cash award to recognize their success. Their individual scores were Madison Strief — 599 points, Grace Strief 599, Hammerand 596 and Demmer 572.

“We had countless hours evaluating both live and recorded practice classes of horses,” Hammerand said. “We had numerous people’s help and support preparing for the contest.”

This is the second time the Striefs, Demmer and Hammerand have represented the West Dubuque FFA and Iowa at the national level. They placed fifth in the Dairy Cattle Evaluation and Management Contest in 2017.

The National FFA Horse Evaluation is a competitive event that tests students’ ability to select and evaluate horses. Event components include eight selection classes consisting of four halter classes and four performance classes. Students also give four sets of oral reasons with two sets coming from each evaluation class. Teams also work together to complete practical activities and a team presentation. Each team competed at local and state levels for the privilege of representing their state at the National FFA Convention and Expo.

Natalie Pins was also recognized and was awarded her American FFA Degree. This is the highest degree achievable in the National FFA Organization. This demonstrates the effort FFA members apply toward their supervised agricultural experience and the outstanding leadership abilities and community involvement they exhibited through their FFA career.

“These are monumental accomplishments for the West Dubuque FFA program,” Rauen said. “I think this is a true testament of what is going on in our culture here at WD and how our students strive for success in and outside of the classroom.”