PERHAM, Minn. — Growing up on a dairy farm four miles southeast of Hawley, Minn. Carl Aakre found opportunities-a-plenty through his time in FFA. “I was encouraged by my parents to join FFA.” It was advisor Dave Swanson who was integral in getting Aakre to seek opportunities throughout the organization. “He got me involved in a couple career development events,” Aakre said. Swanson also encouraged him to attend Greenhand Camp. Aakre went on to serve in a variety of roles on the chapter level such as vice president and reporter.
With all his experience in FFA leadership positions, Aakre decided to run for a state office in 1994. It was the leadership components offered at the state level that Aakre valued. Having previously been a region president and treasurer, he had an idea of what he was getting himself into when it came to the state officer selection process. Aakre distinctly remembers feeling relaxed and cracking jokes before the interviews. Being calm through it all helped as Aakre was named state FFA vice president. “It was very exciting, thrilling,” Aakre said. “A sense of relief that I did receive an office.”
Reflecting on the experience of being a part of the state FFA officer team, “I think our time was very diverse.” Aakre recalled it was a challenge at first to work together. Then the officers bonded well. It was a year of transitions as state FFA advisor Paul Day retired and Joel Larsen was named his successor. “It was early to mid-fall that we found out that Joel was going to be our advisor.”
One of Aakre’s favorite memories of his time as a state officer was the few days before state FFA convention, being with his fellow officers, reflecting on their time together over the past year.
Aakre went to North Dakota State University in Fargo, N.D. for his first year of college, then transferred to the University of Minnesota where he received his degree in Applied Economics. He wasn’t the only one among the state officers to attend the University of Minnesota. In fact, they all attended school there. All six officers lived on the St. Paul campus.
After college, Aakre was a Minnesota ag teacher for 16 years in Marshall, Vadnais Heights and Perham. It was his time as a state officer which shaped his career path. “It really helped me learn how to lead and network in the ag community.” His time as an educator led to an opportunity to develop curriculum for ag science teachers through Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education. Since 2014 he’s been Curriculum Coordinator for CASE managed by the National Association of Agricultural Educators.
Residing in the Perham area, Aakre and his wife, Anna, are the parents of three children — two in high school, Carter, a senior; Lily, a freshmen and Reid, a fifth grader.
Aakre encourages those that are interested in running for a state FFA officer position to go for it. “Never give up and work hard. Trust in yourself and never set limits.”