Frazee's Angela Malikowski earns high honor of American FFA Degree
Only about 1% of an FFA chapter’s members earn the degree—which Malikowski received in fall 2021.
On her family’s dairy farm in Frazee, Angela Malikowski learned the value of hard work and how to handle responsibilities, as well as all sorts of milk quality knowledge, and that all came in really handy when she joined the National FFA Organization .
At first, she found the idea of being in the Frazee-Vergas FFA chapter scary, as she was a shy student in high school (she graduated in 2020).
With encouragement from then-FFA advisor Ken Hammer, she stepped into the unknown. She soon began moving successfully through milk quality competitions at the regional and state levels, then served as treasurer and then president of the chapter, and earned her state and American FFA degrees.
That last one, especially, is quite an achievement, with only about 1% of a chapter’s members earning the American FFA Degree — which Malikowski received in fall 2021.
“I was just like, ‘Oh my god, I did it!’ I had been waiting so long and nationals was right around the corner and I didn’t hear anything about it, so I didn’t think I made it in,” Malikowski described. “When I saw the email, I saw my name, I was like, ‘Yes, yes, yes!’”
Although Malikowski wasn’t able to attend the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, she is looking forward to her degree coming in the mail.
The work to get the degree included hours of a supervised agricultural experience, volunteering, earning and investing $10,000, participating in competitions, and earning her state degree in 2020. For her supervised ag experience, Malikowski worked at her family’s dairy farm and also as a night time supervisor at Service Foods in Perham.
Since the start of the Frazee-Vergas chapter in 1935, about 20 to 30 members have earned their American FFA Degrees, according to advisor and agriculture teacher Trescha Mitchell.
“She was always on top of things, she was very organized,” Mitchell said of Malikowski’s FFA leadership. “She’s one of those kids that you could definitely say had everything to a tee.”
"Being an officer in FFA, it really helped me get out. I met more people, it kind of got me out of my comfort zone."
— Angela Malikowski
From being a shy member to chapter president, Mitchell said she attended about 90% of the FFA events. She hit regions her first year as a sophomore, won regions while being treasurer her junior year and headed into her senior year as president, with a new advisor.
Within the milk quality competitions , “it was about the milk and what the milk is made into,” Malikowski explained. Students tasted milk and different dairy products, figured out cheeses’ fat content and where it was made, and completed a test on the production and marketing of milk. Students had to determine 10 categories of milk defects like bitter, rancid or watered down, and the fat contents by tasting butter, sour cream and whipped cream, with non-dairy products mixed in to throw students off.
Malikowski said she studied with the milk quality team, made her own flashcards and worked through testing packets from previous years.
“It's a lot of studying,” she remarked. “Always on the bus ride up to nationals or state, everyone would be going through my flashcards getting in extra studying.”
“She always placed in the top five,” Mitchell said. “She worked really hard and she practiced a lot.”
While her family’s dairy farm had to be sold, Malikowski said that, along with her three siblings, she was glad to grow up on a farm.
“It teaches you to work hard and it gave me a lot more responsibility,” she said, which helped her be organized as president when students had questions, fundraisers needed coordination and the chapter had career and leadership development events throughout the year.
“Being an officer in FFA, it really helped me get out. I met more people, it kind of got me out of my comfort zone,” Malikowski said. She was also in Knowledge Bowl and the National Honor Society.
Mitchell said Malikowski's leadership continues today thanks to the ripple effect, as the older current FFA members who worked with Malikowski are now helping guide the younger students.
“A lot of people have a misconception that FFA’s just for ag kids or for farm kids,” Mitchell said. "Truly, we really focus now on the premier leadership, the personal growth and the career success, and just making that relationship to agriculture and student success.”
Malikowski’s current career success, and money-wise skills from FFA, includes working at Lund Boats in New York Mills. She’s thinking on her next step, and may open her own strawberry patch or canning business in the future.
“As a teacher, you look back and it makes you feel good,” Mitchell said of students working in different trades right out of high school. “You know what they’re accomplishing, and doing very well for our society.”