SYCAMORE – Chase Clausen didn’t think he had a chance of being elected as an officer of the Illinois Association FFA. After all, the Sycamore High School alumnus said, only five out of 17,500 members are selected each year.
So when he was announced as the newly elected treasurer at the FFA state convention Thursday in Springfield, Clausen couldn’t believe what he heard.
“I honestly didn’t think it was real, but once I ran onstage, I was so excited,” said Clausen, 19. “It’s such an honor. I was just hoping to win any office, so it didn’t matter. But I’m happy to be treasurer.”
He’ll organize the finances and business side of the Illinois FFA.
“It will give me good experience, because I’m going to major in agricultural business at either Iowa State or University of Illinois,” Clausen said.
A reception was held in his honor Saturday at Sycamore High School, where family, friends and current and former FFA members stopped by to congratulate him. Kara Poynter, the school’s agricultural education teacher, organized the event to recognize her former student.
“This is an exciting time for Sycamore because our last state officer was in 1993, so I’m very proud of Chase,” Poynter said. “This shows our chapter is growing and continuing to be successful. FFA is a great program for students because it teaches skills they can use throughout their lives.”
Clausen’s position as state treasurer begins immediately and will continue through next June. He just finished his freshman year at Kishwaukee College, but he will take next year off from school to fulfill his FFA duties.
He and the four other elected state officers will live at a hotel near the FFA state building in Springfield, and they will divide their time between the office and traveling around the state, advocating for agriculture and the FFA, and meeting with other FFA chapters and state legislators.
“We’ll visit between 60 and 70 FFA chapters a year, meet the students and teachers and do leadership workshops with them,” Clausen said. “I’ll be busy all year.”
His father, Jeff Clausen, was involved with the Sycamore FFA, as was his father before him. Jeff said being involved with the organization is a family tradition, as Chase’s brothers, Justin, 21, and Jared, 14, also are involved with the FFA.
“It’s good for them because it develops leadership and good organizational skills and just gives them a lot of responsibility,” Jeff said. “Sycamore has a very strong chapter.”
Chase’s mother, Anna Clausen, said her son has worked hard for the honor, and she’s excited to see what he’ll accomplish in the next year.
“Becoming a state officer has been a dream of his since his freshman year,” she said. “He was inspired by a state officer who came to Sycamore High School that year, and something [the officer] said triggered Chase. He wanted to be like him. And now Chase wants to inspire others like he was inspired.”
Chase already has inspired one FFA member. Incoming Sycamore High School chapter president Megan Fidler, 17, said she’s known Chase for a long time and is excited for him.
“I was a delegate at the convention, so I helped get him elected,” she said. “He’s always been a good friend, and I’m happy to support him.”
Bill Lenschow, 81, was involved with the Sycamore FFA in the 1950s, when he was a student at the high school. He continues to be a strong supporter of the program.
“This is one of the best experiences for young people to have success in their future involvement with agriculture and for leadership positions,” he said. “Young people don’t always realize the opportunity they have with this program. But once they get it, they find many open doors because of their involvement in programs like FFA.”