Wisconsin FFA Honors Impactful Leaders

The Wisconsin FFA Hall of Fame recognizes individuals who have remained committed to the organization throughout their entire lives and have immensely impacted it in a positive manner.

The members of the Wisconsin FFA Hall of Fame are recognized by a plaque in their honor at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The Hall of Fame Recognition plaque is made possible by the Wisconsin FFA Foundation.

The following individuals were inducted into the Hall of Fame at the 95th Wisconsin FFA Convention:

Frank Friar

Mr. Frank Friar has served agriculture as an educator, business leader, mentor, consultant and financial advisor. He learned farming growing up on a small family farm in Grant County which led to his very practical approach and understanding for farm management.

Following college and military service, he taught high school and community college classes and proceeded to work for 30 years in agriculture lending with Farm Credit Services. He then joined the Farm Center at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection as an Economic Development Consultant for 15 years. In total he consulted Wisconsin farmers for 45 years.

He has always been a strong supporter of agricultural education too. He served on the implementation committee creating the Wisconsin Agricultural Education and Workforce Development Council and the WDATP Secretary’s Panel on Agriculture Education making recommendations for all levels of agricultural education. During State FFA Conventions, Mr. Friar has served as a judge for numerous years in many different areas.

Ralph Johnson

Mr. Ralph Johnson started his career as an agriculture instructor in Cascade, Iowa. He left the profession for three years before returning to the classroom as the agriculture instructor and FFA advisor at Juda where he continued for 26 years.

Mr. Johnson began his journey with FFA as a member of the Blackhawk FFA Chapter where Mr. Dick Meske was his advisor. He credits his advisor, who also is a member of the Wisconsin FFA Hall of Fame, for choosing a career in agriculture education. During his tenure, Mr. Johnson helped charter the Juda FFA Alumni, served on the WAAE Board and was president, participated in the efforts achieving science equivalency credits for agriculture classes, and aided in establishing the southern Wisconsin FFA Foundation golf outing.

His students were regular participants in career and leadership development events and conference attendees. He always encouraged questions of students and his advice for FFA members today is once you know your interest, ask your advisor how you can plug that interest into the FFA program.

Brenda Scheil

Mrs. Brenda Scheil has been an FFA advisor and agricultural education instructor for 40 years at the School District of New Auburn. During her first two years, she worked between New Auburn and Bloomer until the ag program at New Auburn achieved full time status.

Mrs. Scheil chose to serve agriculture and the FFA organization because of how each contributes to the purposeful mission of providing food, clothing and shelter for all of humanity. She has cultivated many future leaders as an FFA Advisor and her contributions through her 40 years of service, training of 144 Agriscience Fair Teams, serving on state and national education task forces and curriculum teams, and co-authoring textbooks.

Mrs. Scheil has been recognized by her peers through numerous WAAR awards, NAAE Region 3 Outstanding Service Citation, and as a KohlTeacher Fellowship Recipient. Her advice to FFA members is to reflect on past agriculturist’s work ethic and accomplishments with gratitude and look to the future of agriculture with shining hope and daily joy with living with a purpose.

Dr. Mark Zidon

Dr. Mark Zidon grew up in North Dakota where he was an FFA member while in high school. He attended North Dakota State University and then taught high school agriculture in both North and South Dakota. He then moved to Iowa teaching at Iowa State University and finally onto Platteville. It was at UW-Platteville where Dr. Zidon found his perfect fit as the position combined both his love for Ag Education and Ag Mechanics.

For 34 years he taught and mentored at UW-Platteville for those becoming agricultural educators. He shared his passion for teaching students in every situation for real-world jobs. Having taught himself basic computer programming skills, Dr. Zidon pioneered a computer scoring program for CDEs. This breakthrough technology led to him sharing his leadership and skills with CDE events. For 38 years he served on the National FFA Agricultural Technology and Mechanical Systems CDE team and was the superintendent for 6 years.

In Wisconsin, he served as the superintendent of the UW-Platteville FFA career development events for 33 years, and the same number of years supervising the FFA events at World Dairy Expo. He has been a judge for the FFA Parliamentary Procedure contest at every level and was the University Representative on the Wisconsin FFA Foundation Board of Directors.