FFA students fundraise to support advisor fighting cancer

Amanda Radke
for Tri-State Livestock News

A community is rallying to support Jeff Hoffman, of Bridgewater, South Dakota, as he battles an aggressive cancer called soft tissue sarcoma. Hoffman is an FFA advisor and agricultural teacher at Mitchell High School and lives on a diversified farm with his wife Sheila and children Logan and Sydney.

After six rounds of chemotherapy, Hoffman recently had a leg amputated due to complications from the cancer. Despite losing a leg, his spirits remain high, and his students, colleagues, friends, family and community members aren’t letting him fight this fight alone.

A fundraiser has been set up at In just 20 days, the online fundraiser has raised more than $11,000. With a goal of $50,000, interested parties can read about Hoffman’s cancer story and donate online.

“If people would like to help and support Jeff, they can also contribute by sending a check to Mitchell CorTrust Bank,” said Tom Fergen, retired FFA advisor from Mitchell. “Simply write the checks to ‘For the support of Jeff Hoffman.’ Anytime someone has to fight cancer, it takes a toll financially and emotionally. The donations certainly help, but even more important, right now I believe he needs our prayers the most.”

Fergen is teaming up with the Mitchell FFA Chapter to coordinate school-wide t-shirt sales to support Hoffman, as well as a larger fundraiser that will encourage the state’s FFA chapters to get involved.

“Anyone can contribute,” said Fergen. “Any help is welcome and appreciated.”

Hoffman’s students miss their teacher’s fun and motivating personality in the classroom while he is away for treatments. Now South Dakota State University students pursuing careers in agriculture, his 2014 state champion nursery landscape team including Kaley Nolz, Kylee Geppert, Abby Repenning, and Andrew Getty, recall fond memories of their years in FFA under Hoffman’s leadership.

“Hoffman has had a big influence on my life and career choices,” said Repenning. “I was a part of the Mitchell FFA nursery landscape team during my last three years of high school. Even though it took us three years, Hoffman always supported us and made sure we never took our eyes off the goal to win state. He supported us in our strongest moments and never gave up when were struggling as a team. Moreover, due to what I have been taught about agriculture in his classroom, I decided to take up a career in agriculture and bio-systems engineering at SDSU. I will forever be grateful for his support and knowledge. During this hard time, he will be met by support from former students, friends, and family as he has affected many people’s lives and will continue to do so in the future.”

“Being a part of FFA was definitely my favorite part of high school,” said Getty. “Hoffman was the man behind my successes and always pushed me and the team to do our best. He always told us, ‘Guys, do your best, but have fun with it.’ I carry that message with me today pursuing my future endeavors. He truly cares about his students, and I consider him a great friend to this day.”

“What I admire most about Hoffman is his ability to connect with all of his students,” added Geppert. “Whether they are from an agricultural background or not and whether they are in FFA or not, he always seems to be able to find something in common with them.”

“Even though I’m no longer one of Hoffman’s students, I know that teaching is truly his passion and I would like nothing more than to see him receive a clean bill of health and get back into the classroom,” added Nolz. “I hope this fundraiser will give him the support he needs to beat this cancer once and for all, and I’m looking forward to traveling with him to the National FFA Convention this fall.”

To support Hoffman, check out his online fundraiser and consider donating or leaving your thoughts and prayers in the comments section of the website.