Advisor Doug "Legendary" Hauk leads team to FFA National Championship

Winning team and their leader ... Student-created signs of “Doug ‘Legendary’ Hauk” began appearing at Philip High School after the FFA teams returned from the National Convention. The marketing team of – back row, from left: Caleb Clements, Mick Trask and Carissa Doolittle – took first place in the nation. The floriculture team earned a 29th spot. Front: Loni Nelson, Grace Schnabel, Morgan Frein and Michelle Van Tassel. The Philip FFA advisor, far right, is Doug Hauk.

Nine FFA chapter members represented Philip at the 82nd National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, October 20-24.

The marketing plan team of Mick Trask, Carissa Doolittle and Caleb Clements took first place in their division area. They competed against 32 teams representing 31 states and Puerto Rico. After making it into the semi-finals of 16 remaining teams, Philip became one of the last four finalists: South Dakota, California, New Mexico and Kentucky. Each member of Philip's marketing plan team received a $1,000 scholarship.

"When we won the state competition with this crew," said advisor Doug Hauk, "I thought that they were definitely good enough to compete at nationals. With the national competition eliminations, one bobble in the written or personal interviews and you could be out. The night before the finals, I woke up at 3:15 a.m. and started writing down last minute review questions for the team."

"Our kids did a great job of answering the questions. They really sold it well. They were well researched, were connected, made it viable and showed it with confidence. This year the nationals did a new thing. They sorted out the top eight written plans so none were in the same original competing pools of teams. Philip High School was one of those eight. The finals had a whole new set of judges. Our team was well balanced where each kid knew their plan as well as their teammates did. They all had put in a ton of time for this," said Hauk.

"Everybody's got their baby and mine is marketing. You sit in on as many other team presentations as possible and take notes. Coming up with a good project is huge. After seeing so many plans, you learn what works. Teams help other teams, but you always keep some things up your sleeves. It then takes the kids to do their work. They've got to know everything about the proposed business," said Hauk. "California did an excellent job with a very smooth delivery, but then the teams got grilled by the judges. Our kids really nailed the questions."

The floriculture team of Grace Schnabel, Loni Nelson, Morgan Frein and Michelle Van Tassel earned 29th place out of 47 teams.

"Each person on the floriculture team did a great job," said Hauk. "It's almost three contests in itself: job interviews, then sales and then arrangement, cloning, bedding, etc. It's two full days that they are working hard in competition. And, it's a one time thing. Once you compete and win at state, you don't go back in the same subject."

FFA members, who are seniors when they win the state competition, still compete at nationals months later, even though they have, by then, graduated from high school. Trask, Nelson and Schnabel are currently freshmen in college.

Two other Philip students also officially attended the national convention. Gavin Snook is the Philip chapter freshman president and Sam Haigh is the chapter's parlimentarian. Each officer had to pass interviews to earn their eligibility to attend nationals. They represented the Philip chapter and joined other members of the 80 FFA chapters on three charter buses from South Dakota.

Of the three times a South Dakota team has ever taken first place at FFA Nationals, Philip has done so twice, with Milbank doing so once. This year makes a total of 13 times one of Hauk's Philip teams has earned the right to compete at Nationals. The marketing team has made it now seven times, the natural resource team twice, this year's floriculture team, an ag mechanic team once, an extemporaneous speaker once and a job interview person once. "I had three teams, the most I ever had in one year, go to Nationals in Kansas City, MO," said Hauk.