Zitelman loves helping on the farm
For Lauren Zitelman of rural Alma, joining FFA as a freshman at Santa Fe High School seemed like an obvious choice.
"I had grown up on the farm and I always helped my grandpa on the farm, and I just loved being outside and doing anything on the farm," she said. "So when I got to high school, I knew I definitely wanted to be in FFA because it was ag-related, and I could do a lot of stuff ag-related with it."
Zitelman, the daughter of John and Daphne Zitelman and the late Donna Zitelman, was one of six Santa Fe students to earn the State FFA Degree in April at the Missouri FFA Convention in Columbia.
As a graduating senior, she said she would definitely recommend joining FFA to freshmen.
"You really get to do a lot of activities that maybe you weren't familiar with before," she said. "And it just allows kids to branch out and try new things and be in good company."
She has enjoyed all FFA activities, including pizza parties and bowling. However, washer tournaments stand out as her favorite FFA activity.
"We've got a lot of kids that do that," she said. "It's usually pretty competitive, and it just gets really fun."
Zitelman worked several jobs for her Supervised Agriculture Experience.
"I have worked at Cathy's Country Restaurant here in Alma," she said. "I also plant and grow five acres of corn on my grandma's farm."
In addition, she mows yards and helps her father on the farm.
During the summer she may work 30 hours a week or more, but during the busy school year, a 15 hour work week is normal. She also helps around the farm, "just whenever it needs to be done."
She has learned earning money is harder than it looks, especially in a local restaurant.
"Sometimes you have to work, whether you feel like it or not," she said.
"I like the environment and being around the local community people," she said. "It's just a good experience to get you prepared for the real world."
As an FFA member, Zitelman has been very active. She served as junior co-president her freshman and sophomore years and as FFA secretary.
She has been Student Council president for two years and vice-president for one year. She is president of FBLA and was president of Spanish club for two years. She served as treasurer, secretary and vice-president for SADD and FCCLA. She also is a member of the volleyball, softball and track teams at Santa Fe.
She received third place in Area VI Grain Entrepreneurship this year, after placing second last year and fourth in 2010.
As a freshman and sophomore, she won chapter excellence awards for woodworking and welding. She has also won the Diversified Grain Entrepreneurship chapter proficiency award each year. Through her years, she was a member of the FFA knowledge team and Horse Evaluation team.
She is also very active in community activities. She is a member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Alma and the youth group. She also serves on the junior altar guild. She was a 10-year member of Alma 4-H club and helped with the Boys and Girls Club of America playground build in Kansas City for two years. Each year she helps with the softball and 4-H stands at Alma Fourth of July and the Waverly Apple Jubilee.
In her spare time, Zitelman likes to fish, play sports or do anything on the farm including driving tractors or being outside with the horses. She also likes to spend a lot of time with family and friends.
This fall, she will be attending the University of Missouri to major in agribusiness management or business administration.