SDSU agriculture education major wins national award at convention


Kendra Goplin hosted many after school programs on Thursday afternoon, during the lesson pictured above, she demonstrated how to plant Mother’s Day pots.

Adrienne Lipinski, Reporter

​​An SDSU student who grew up on a crop farm in Wisconsin was a big winner at the 94th National Future Farmers of America (FFA) Convention last month in Indianapolis.

Kendra Goplin, a freshman from Osseo, Wisconsin, and an agriculture education major, was named the 2021 Proficiency Winner in Agricultural Education. 

“They announced my name; words cannot describe those emotions,” Kendra Goplin said.

Goplin learned she was a finalist earlier this fall. She then headed to the National Convention where the winner was announced Oct. 28.

“I knew she could do it, but you never know,” Melinda Goplin, Kendra’s mother and adviser, said. “As an adviser or a parent or FFA member, you don’t know what the competition is.”

Goplin said her daughter did an effective job of preparing and reaching out to people for assistance so she could do the best job possible. When the time finally came to announce the winner, Kendra Goplin remembers looking toward the other finalists thinking about which one of them would win. Then she heard her name called.

“I was super nervous,” Goplin said. “Everyone else had super good projects.”

Goplin started her FFA career in seventh grade. That was also when she started her supervised agriculture experience or SAE. 

SAEs are work-based learning experiences for students to expand outside of their classroom hours. They are designed to help students grow as people. Many FFA members will focus their SAE on their family farm, but the options are endless.

For Goplin, her SAE focused on one thing: education in the agriculture industry. She started her project in seventh grade with a flyer called the Potty Press.

The publication was a one-page informational sheet about agriculture that hung on the insides of bathroom stalls. In addition to the Potty Press, she taught third-graders ag safety during a one-day event and helped present at agricultural literacy nights.

Her freshman year, she took over planning for ag literacy nights. During her sophomore year, she joined her county’s Farm Bureau Board of Directors and served as the ag promotions chair and ag in the classroom coordinator. As part of her position, she held ag literacy programs for fourth- and fifth-graders in 13 schools across her county.

Her senior year was unlike most because she was among other students across the country who were still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Goplin’s mom is an agriculture education teacher, and because of this, Kendra Goplin saw the struggles teachers were going through at this time.

“I saw the stress that she goes through, and I wanted to help,” Goplin said.

So, Kendra Goplin came up with an interactive solution that can be used for an in-person, hybrid or virtual classroom setting. The solution was creating her digital interactive notebooks. They are similar to Google Slides, where each student gets their own copy that they can manipulate and learn from. Most of her notebooks pertained to animal science, but Goplin has covered other topics, such as floral arrangements.

She didn’t stop at just her school, and shared her notebooks to the Ag Teacher listserv, meaning over 200 educators had access to her notebooks. Many teachers showed their gratitude by reaching out.

“I had so many teachers tell me, ‘you saved me three weeks of time I don’t have,’” Goplin said. 

With the culmination of all her projects, Goplin filled out the ag education proficiency application and submitted it to her state association. She was the state runner-up in 2019-2020, then was named the state winner in 2021.

State winners can then move on to the national round where they submit their applications in June to be reviewed by a panel of judges. Goplin was chosen as one of four finalists out of 30 other state winners.

“She didn’t let common obstacles stand in her way. She told me at her very first national convention that one day she would be going to be on that stage,” Melina Goplin said.

Since her win, Goplin has been looking toward the future, although for the time being she just wants to focus on being a college student.

Her SAE project exposed her to many things, and most importantly it taught her she doesn’t want to take the traditional ag education route. 

Goplin wants to continue making interactive notebooks for teachers. In fact, she has researched companies that make lesson plans, supplemental materials, etc. for teachers. She thinks that would be a great fit for her.

“That’s kind of my thing. I want to help teachers,” she said.