Woodbury FFA Upholds Reputation at State Convention


Eric Birkenberger

Members of the Woodbury FFA celebrate a successful showing at this year’s state FFA convention June 2 and 3. The chapter brought home numerous awards and positions in state office.

Madelynn Orosz and Emma Cummings

STORRS — “From the Woodbury FFA Chapter …”

This was a phrase that echoed throughout the University of Connecticut during the 93rd Connecticut FFA State Convention.

The Woodbury FFA had a strong showing throughout the two-day affair, with many accolades received by members of the chapter. 

June 2 consisted of the delegate session with chapter officers Sage Samuelson, Madelynn Orosz, Samara Thomas, and Juliann Noyd working to better the state and voting on topics such as finance, involvement, code of ethics, and member experience. The nomination committee also proposed their slate of new officer candidates with Emma Cummings representing the Woodbury FFA and District 1.

The chapter also attended workshops and the Quiz Bowl team competed.

June 3 had workshops for members, competitions, ceremonies, and more. Students attended the general sessions and listened to the retiring addresses of the state officer team. The state degree ceremony highlighted the day.

The State FFA Degree is the highest degree the Connecticut FFA can bestow upon its members, showing their dedication not only to their chapters, but the state. Six members of the Woodbury FFA received their state degrees on the second day of the convention: Anna Shupenis, Jamie Paige, Orosz, Noyd, Campbell Bologna, and Leah Quijano.

Nine Nonnewaug students placed first in the state for their proficiencies, which consisted of the student filling out a 20-page application about their Supervised Agricultural Experience. 

“The proficiency is basically a big reflection on your growth and what you’ve learned at your SAE [in] which you reflect on the skills and knowledge in the content area as well as soft skills while working so that you can focus and reflect on what you learned since you started,” said Jen Jedd, Nonnewaug’s SAE coordinator and Woodbury FFA advisor.

The retiring 2022-2023 Connecticut FFA state officer team had four members of the Woodbury FFA. Breanna Butkievich served as the parlimentarian and now will be serving as the president for the upcoming year. Danni Syrotiak served as the reporter and will serve as the treasurer for the upcoming year. Amelia Pillis served as the treasurer and will serve as the secretary/treasurer for the state of Maine. Joe Velky served as the sentinel and will be continuing his agricultural education in North Carolina. (Tom DiMarco)

“The ones that are competitive on the state level use the rubric through National FFA, and if you have the size and scope and the skills you learned [at your SAE, they] can go on to the national level, and the chapter has done a really good job at getting kids to place at nationals, which is great for our little state of Connecticut,” Jedd added.

Jedd said she was impressed by the nine state proficiency winners and has high hopes for the crew that will attend the FFA National Convention in the fall.

“Some kids put in the extra work, and I expect a couple of golds and hopefully a national finalist,” Jedd said. “We had a national finalist this past year, so I’m starting to understand what they are looking for with going more based on the rubric and making sure it is all well written [by the student] and all the skills are showing the big picture. Someone from the Midwest could read this and have never seen these locations before, so they have to be clear to get the reader to understand what they are talking about.”

These nine students will move on to the national judging in their respective award areas. 

Danni Syrotiak won the Environmental and Natural Resources area, Gabby Danielli won the Veterinary Science area, Jamie Paige won the Agricultural Sales area, Kayla Gilberte won the Small Animal Care and Management area, Madelynn Orosz won the Diversified Agricultural Production area, Cody Kellogg won the Equine Science area, Amelia Pillis won the Outdoor Recreation area, Joey Pelletier won the Diversified Horticulture area and Chloe Bombero won the Dairy Production area. 

“I feel good and I’m proud of all of our students,” said Tom DiMarco, Woodbury FFA advisor and Connecticut FFA advisor. “It’s awesome to see we have a handful of graduates that are going on to continue their FFA career beyond high school, whether being a state officer here in Connecticut or exploring opportunities to be a state officer in other states.”

“I think speaking for [Katie Gorman, FFA advisor] and I, we are excited about they representing not only Connecticut but also Maine, and I think that’s a bonus that [the Woodbury FFA] can influence beyond the state of Connecticut,” said Eric Birkenberger, Woodbury FFA chapter advisor

The 2022-23 Connecticut state officer team included four members of the Woodbury FFA: senior Joe Velky served as the sentinel, senior Danni Syrotiak served as the reporter, senior Amelia Pillis served as the treasurer, and 2022 graduate Breanna Butkievich served as the parliamentarian. 

The state nomination committee elected three Woodbury FFA members to serve as state officers in 2023-24: Butkievich was elected president, Syrotiak treasurer, and senior Ryan Wicklund sentinel. 

“I’m very excited to be a state officer,” said Syrotiak. “I am most looking forward to getting to know my new team and to continue influencing members throughout Connecticut.”

“There’s nothing I enjoy more than helping people,” said Wicklund. “As a state officer, I will be able to meet so many more members and pass some of my knowledge on to them.”

The 2023-2024 Connecticut state officer team consists of three members of the Woodbury FFA: Breanna Butkievich, Ryan Wicklund, and Danni Syrotiak. They have served as chapter officers of the Woodbury FFA prior to taking on roles in state office. (Leanne Golembeski)

The Maine FFA elected Pillis to serve as the 2023-24 secretary/treasurer. 

“I’m excited about being a new state officer,” said Pillis. “My favorite thing about being a state officer is meeting new members, learning about their SAEs, and getting to see how other chapters work. Going to a new state adds a whole new level to that. There are opportunities Maine can offer but Connecticut can’t just because of location. I can’t wait to help Maine FFA expand all over the state.”

The state also elected Matthew Syrotiak, Nonnewaug class of 2021, to be the national officer candidate for Connecticut. 

“Going for national office is also very exciting for our chapter,” added DiMarco.

“It’s exciting because it validates and makes us feel good that we are producing leaders in the FFA and future leaders of the organization, so we are all excited,” said Birkenberger.

The 2022-23 sophomore block officer team competed in the Opening and Closing Ceremonies LDE and placed second in the state competition, and the chapter scrapbook placed second in the state contest. Samuelson won the new Ag Education CDE, as well. 

The Woodbury FFA has left its mark on the Connecticut State Convention once again with Quiz Bowl, Conduct of Chapter Meetings, and Ag Mechanics going to represent the state of Connecticut at FFA National Convention in the fall.