Front Haley Schiwnefus, Makala Nauman, Rialie Fenske, Valerie Earley, Kayla Mulhern, Carter Reiland, Dane Gillespie<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->2nd row - Jackie Apenhorst, Nikki Shorter, Autumn Kappers, Shelby Erding, Mindy Woods, Taylor Link, Brianna Musel, Paige Brandt, Hannah Frank<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->3rd - Brandon Hamersma, Quinn Larsen, Jacob Rindels, Marcus Plaehn, Justin Kraling, Matthias Bush, Caleb Frank, Isiah Bubany, Nick Niemeyer, Trevor Schwarz<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->
Front Haley Schiwnefus, Makala Nauman, Rialie Fenske, Valerie Earley, Kayla Mulhern, Carter Reiland, Dane Gillespie

2nd row - Jackie Apenhorst, Nikki Shorter, Autumn Kappers, Shelby Erding, Mindy Woods, Taylor Link, Brianna Musel, Paige Brandt, Hannah Frank

3rd - Brandon Hamersma, Quinn Larsen, Jacob Rindels, Marcus Plaehn, Justin Kraling, Matthias Bush, Caleb Frank, Isiah Bubany, Nick Niemeyer, Trevor Schwarz

The Spring Valley-Wykoff FFA horse team, with four individuals - Jackie Apenhorst, Autumn Kappers, Haley Schwinefus and Nikki Shorter - and job interview individual Brianna Musel are going to the national FFA convention in Louisville, Ky., in October.

FFA adviser Kristal Brogan said she was proud of the quintet for earning first place, and also of dairy team member, Melinda Woods, who earned first place as an individual in the dairy judging but will not attend the convention because her team did not place.

Kingsland's chapter has 68 students in grades seven through 12, and Brogan strives to teach them to be responsible and knowledgeable. Learning that her students will be among those who know their agriculture "was a pleasant surprise. I expected some to be in the top places, but to win is pretty cool. We have taken teams before...Rachel Frank was the last to go. The team and Brianna will compete with people from across the nation, and they have a chance to earn scholarships."

The horse team's members agreed that they get along really well and work well together, and that they've all had a love for horses and the advantage of being able to work with them throughout their lives. They practice judging horses several hours a week, determining which horse in a lineup has the best traits and musculature.

"We judge a horse's confirmation - we put in order how we want to classify them, and we have a set of reasons why we classified them that way," Apenhorst related. "We get ready by practicing judging horses online, we have pictures of horses from magazines and other places, and we have a list that gives the layout of how we decided to judge the horse that way and how to say the reasons for the team."

Shorter is excited to attend national convention because it's her senior year, and she feels that this is a great way to close her high school career. "It's really cool to be able to go during my senior year. It's a big deal, and I've never gone before...knowing I got to go makes me feel pretty good."

The quartet of equestrians admitted that they're all a little bit nervous, but they're certain that that nervousness will go away as they study and practice their horse judging confirmations.

Schwinefus hopes that by studying for national convention curriculum, she'll learn more about different breeds of horses. "I'll expand what I'm learning about horses, and to know about more breeds is fun. I look forward to judging horses and spending time with everyone in FFA who's going."

Musel feels prepared to compete in job interview at national convention, having easily conquered competition at regional and University of Minnesota meets. "The first time I competed was at the 2011 University of Minnesota invitational and didn't do so good. I did the same thing last year, and I competed at the spring regions meet, so I had three different events. I'm kind of at the point where I'm ready to be going. With job interview, there's only so much you can do to prepare. I submitted my resume, a letter of application, had a phone call, and since my resume is already done, half the work is out of the way. All that's left are two interviews and fill out an actual job application, and then write a thank you letter."

She'll be up against 14 other students at national convention, and the daunting part is knowing that she's earned first place and only first place at state, since second place finishers do not advance. However, she appreciates the work it took to become one of the 15 job interview competitors, noting, "It shows a lot...this is not something that's handed to you. You have to work at it, and there's effort and expense involved. That makes it worth it."

Apenhorst is proud of her team and chapter, as is advisor Brogan. Apenhorst stated, "The chapter is very well put together. We're always looking for new members, and we'll need a new horse team after this because once you place first at state, you can't compete on the horse team again. State convention this year was a lot of fun, especially because we won. We probably didn't think we'd go onstage, but we did, and that's exciting."