Leland Vetter awarded Honorary American FFA degree
Among the 149 recipients being honored this week with the Honorary American FFA degree is Leland Vetter, a welding instructor at Eastern Wyoming College (EWC) in Torrington, WY.
Vetter was the only recipient from Wyoming selected to receive the award during the 83rd National FFA Convention in Indianapolis. Vetter was nominated for the award by the Wyoming Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association (WVATA), which consists of present and past high school agriculture instructors and FFA advisors, in addition to Wyoming Department of Education members and college agriculture instructors.
The Honorary American FFA degree is given to individuals who have provided exceptional service to agriculture, agricultural education, or FFA. Vetter was selected for the award because of his desire to advance agricultural education and FFA through personal commitment.
Vetter grew up on the family farm in Linton, ND, and was involved in his local FFA program in high school until it was dissolved. His brother is the sixth generation to continue operating the family farm in Linton. “Our family farm is coming up on 125 years-old,” he said. “It has been around for a long time.”
Vetter chose a different path moving to Torrington to become a welding and machine tooling instructor at Eastern Wyoming College 30 years ago. He currently serves as director of the welding program at the college.
Vetter said he first became involved with the Torrington FFA chapter when he used the welding lab at the high school because the college welding lab was under construction. From there, Vetter was asked to assist with judging at the state ag mechanics contest. He also started to work with high school FFA students to prepare them for the state welding competition, and he holds teacher workshops during the year to help agriculture instructors update their welding skills.
“Leland has not only established and run an extremely successful program over the last 30 years, but furthered the education of numerous Wyoming FFA members by developing their skills and integrity as young men and women,” said Jason Groene, Agriculture Education Instructor and FFA Advisor for Torrington and Lingle/Ft. Laramie High Schools. “Leland has also served as an official for the Wyoming FFA Agricultural Mechanics contest during the State FFA convention. As a group, the WVATA decided that Leland was deserving of this honor because of his dedication to his students and his craft. He does this with the utmost integrity and values.”
Vetter, who traveled to Indianapolis this week to receive this honor during an onstage presentation, was surprised to hear he was selected for the award. “I didn’t even know I had been nominated,” he said. “It is quite an honor to be recognized nationally for something I really enjoy doing. It is good to be affiliated with the FFA chapters we have in Wyoming, and I am especially pleased to be a part of the fresh new direction of our local chapter.”
This is not the first time Vetter has been honored for his efforts in furthering education for the FFA youth. He was previously honored by the Wyoming FFA organization with the Honorary State Farmer Degree, along with a local Honorary Farmer degree, which he proudly displays at the college. After this week, Vetter will have a new certificate and medal to hang with his previous awards, in addition to having his name permanently recorded as an Honorary American FFA degree winner.
EWC president, Tom Armstrong, had the following to say about Vetter’s award: “Energetic, charismatic, enthusiastic, committed, dedicated, respected. I’m not sure these characteristics appear on any official FFA documents used in selecting honorees, but they do describe Leland Vetter,” he said. “Leland’s reputation for providing leadership and expert instruction in welding and joining industry extends far beyond Torrington and Eastern Wyoming College. This recognition is particularly relevant, because it represents his work and involvement with individuals outside the college as well.”
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