From Farm Kid to Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame
KDHL Farm Director Jerry Groskreutz was delivered a surprise this morning live during the morning show.
In 2020 it was announced that Jerry would be inducted into the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame.
Because of COVID there was no banquet so he did not receive the nice plaque designating the honor.
Steve Olson, FFA HOF Board member, former Minnesota Turkey Grower's Association Executive Director stopped by KDHL on his way to Iowa. He phoned ahead of time to inform us of his desire to give Jerry the plaque.
However, nobody told Jerry this was happening.
The plaque reads, "Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame Presented to Jerry Groskreutz in recognition of your contributions to Agricultural Education and FFA in Minnesota."
Jerry admitted he had no clue until Olson arrived in the studio to visit with him.
Olson didn't simply give him the plaque, he interviewed Jerry to find out more about his passion for FFA.
The presentation was done on KDHL and Facebook Live which you can enjoy below.
A transcript of the audio from the presentation and interview is available below if you prefer to read.
Steve Olson (00:00):
Last year, you were inducted into the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame. And I have the honor of co-chairing that committee. And of course, with the convention going virtual, instead of in-person, we didn't have the chance to get you the award in person. So I guess maybe I did collude with some of your counterparts here and just said, Hey, can I stop by? I was on the way down to Iowa and can I stop by and present this in person to Jerr. And so the plaque says, I'm going to read this, but I've got some questions for you too. So the FFA hall of fame presented to Jerry Grosskreutz in recognition of your contributions to agricultural education and FFA in Minnesota, Minnesota FFA convention, 2020.
Jerry Groskreutz (00:34):
It's really quite an honor. I don't brag about myself very well, but it's just such a joy working with these great kids. And maybe I have a small part in their development as they grow and mature.
Steve Olson (00:44):
What I wanted to ask you to tell me, you know, this is kind of nice to be able to interview you. I'm
Jerry Groskreutz (00:48):
I'm used to asking the questions.
Steve Olson (00:50):
I know you are. I know you are. So, um, so why have you been involved in ag education and FFA?
Jerry Groskreutz (00:55):
My degree in college was in ag education, never did teach, but maybe I'm using my ag education degree now. And when I had the opportunity to come here to KDHL, of course, KDHL had a long tradition going back to Dean Curtis with working with youth or youth organizations like 4H and the FFA. And it's just so much fun hanging around these kids.
Steve Olson (01:15):
A little bit more about what you've done, cause I know that one of the things that when we talked, you know, a year and a half ago or so that you said that typically, you're one of the first people that ever interviews FFA members when they're at the national convention or state.
Jerry Groskreutz (01:26):
One of the most rewarding experiences is I've worked with a lot of FFA chapters at state and national conventions. And the advisors tell these kids, you have to stop by and do an interview with Jerry because they see it as a learning and development experience for them. And you can tell some of these kids are pretty intimidated and hyperventilating just a bit and you help them along and they realize maybe it wasn't so bad in the next year. You know, they stick out in your mind and next year it goes better. By the time they get to be a junior or senior. I ask them one question about what they're doing at the convention. I don't get to talk again.
Steve Olson (02:00):
I'm not even gonna go there, what that must be like for you. But the hall of fame is recognizing individuals that have made a significant contribution over a long period of time to ag education, but also, you know, the community as a whole, you know, both from agriculture as well as outside of agriculture. So talk a little bit more about what some of your involvement has been, you know, with agriculture, but within the community.
Jerry Groskreutz (02:21):
One of my favorite events, I'm on the Fairbault chamber of Congress Agribusiness Committee. And this was another tradition that was going when I came to KDHL, they called it the adoptive third grade program where members would go into the classroom and talk to these third graders about where food comes from. And then we later on in the spring bus, 'em up out to a farm so they could see a farm. Well, Kevin Estrem really took that over, doing the ag in the classroom. And he got so busy and he was traveling around the country. So he asked if a couple of us could take over for the last number of years. Brent Fuchs and I have gone to all the third grade classes except of course a COVID year. And we would get all these things from the store that the kids would recognize and then relate it all back to corn and soybeans grown right outside of Faribault. And we don't get into GMO or non GMO or any of those kinds of things. We just want these kids to make the connection that if you like to eat, you need a farmer.
Steve Olson (03:12):
Yeah, I think that's important. And again, it's just letting them know early on. And the fact that this stuff has been raised contributes to the community right in their backyard.
Jerry Groskreutz (03:20):
With your passion for livestock, we really relate to the consumers side, these livestock, too
Steve Olson (03:26):
It's about time. You get that. So what's your most memorable activity involved in ag education or promoting Agriculture?
Jerry Groskreutz (03:33):
I was stumped by a third grade girl. We were talking about, again, our friend, Kevin Eastern that passed away. But when he was a young boy, he was burned really badly, spent a number of weeks up at the burn unit at Hennepin County. And it was actually pig skin that was grafted on his arms and pigs hair was growing on his arm and we relayed it back to the pig, saved Kevin's life. And then one little girl said, well, I remember my parents talking about my grandma had a pig's valve in her heart. It saved her life. And this little girl raised her hand and said, don't you have to kill the pigs. And I looked at Brent and Brent looked at me and the wheels were spinning. And Brent actually thought of something first. He said, well, yes, we do have to harvest the pigs. And that got my mind thinking. I said, see this little corn seed, we plant this. It grows into that great big stock. And this ear of corn, the sole purpose that seed was planted for was to make people's lives better in the same way these animals on the farm, their sole purpose in life is to make people's lives better.
Steve Olson (04:34):
Yeah, I think that's what you do. A great job of you telling stories. And I think that's what people relate to. It gives all of us a better understanding of what the message is you're trying to deliver. So the Hall of Fame has only, you know, I think we've been around 17 years or so. It was started in 2004 and 222 individuals have been inducted. So you're one of 222. What does this mean to you?
Jerry Groskreutz (04:53):
I don't deserve this. I just do what I love to do. Tell that story of agriculture. And I had the opportunity to do that. I have a big microphone, but I still get to go out to the farm and work with the livestock industry and actually raise crops. I haven't done anything that Brent and all the other members of the committee haven't done. I'm just getting recognized for it. So maybe this is recognition for them too.
Steve Olson (05:15):
That's for sure. What's your message to FFA members, youth that aren't in FFA yet, ag teachers?
Jerry Groskreutz (05:19):
The opportunity through 4H another one of my favorite youth organizations. Explore all those different project areas, all those different, I call them judging contests yet, even though they call them, CDEs find out what your passion is. And then we need you in agriculture. We need our best and brightest to produce food for a hungry world. No matter what your career is, whether it's a chemist or you like computers, we need all of those people in agriculture.
Steve Olson (05:43):
I echo those comments. And so on behalf of all of the education students, FFA members, ag teachers across the state of Minnesota over, you know, since it's been around, thank you for your contributions to education.
Jerry Groskreutz (05:54):
Well, thank you, Steve. And thank you to the FFA organizations and all the area FFA chapters that make my job easy and enjoyable. Thank you, Steve.
I've worked with Jerry ever since he arrived at KDHL in the mid-90's. His passion for agriculture is very evident.
Jerry is concerned about the future of agriculture which is one of the reasons FFA is important to him.
I know he's related to me over the years when he was a kid he was interviewed by KDHL legend Dean Curtis (also in the FFA Hall of Fame) when Jerry received an award at a banquet.
"My knees were shaking like a leaf and I didn't even have to say anything. Mr. Curtis was very nice to me and made me feel comfortable."
Little did Jerry know way back then, (I had to get that dig in because he's older than me) that he would eventually be the Farm Director at KDHL.
I have a feeling Jerry's Dad and Dean Curtis are smiling as wide as the Grand Canyon in Heaven seeing him continue the great tradition of service to farmers and their families in Minnesota.
A very deserving honor for Jerry Groskreutz. Officially a member of the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame.
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