From left to right, Cole Eitzen, Grant Stich, Brock Bleichner and Riley Christensen are the members of the Battle Lake Ag Sales team. They competed in the National FFA Convention in October and placed 13th.

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Ag Sales team competes at nationals [UPDATED]

Published 9:46am Wednesday, November 10, 2010 Updated 9:54am Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A team of students from Battle Lake High School are experts in sharing the features of various agricultural products, and they recently demonstrated their sales skills at a competition.

The Battle Lake Ag Sales team took first place at the Minnesota State FFA Convention in April, qualifying them to compete at the National FFA Convention from Oct. 20 to 23 in Indianapolis, where they placed 13th among 40 state-winning teams from around the nation.

The Ag Sales contest consists of three team components and one individual component. The four members of the Battle Lake team, senior Grant Stich and sophomores Cole Eitzen, Riley Christensen and Brock Bleichner, worked together on the written test, a sales practicum and a team sales presentation, and worked individually on a separate sales presentation. Stich was the 26th highest in the individual competition.

“It’s definitely important because so many jobs that are out there right now that people can get involved in are agriculture,” Battle Lake FFA Advisor and Ag Instructor Josh Hein said. “If they don’t get the opportunity to do this stuff in high school, they’re not really going to know it’s there, so by participating in FFA, it really gives them some options after high school.”

Through the competition, he added, many opportunities open up because, oftentimes, judges are people from the agriculture industry and will offer internships or scholarships through their company if a student has outstanding sales.

For the written test, students answer sales questions, from general knowledge to the sales process. In the sales practicum, students demonstrated selling products to prospective customers — for instance, talking to random people who walk past their booth at a trade show to bring in new customers. In the team sales presentation, all four worked together to sell a product given to them just minutes before they presented. In the individual sales presentation, the student sells a pre-chosen product and is rated on how well he or she communicates with the judge.

Sophomore Christensen also hopes to go into agriculture, but not necessarily in sales — he’d like to move to Montana to become a rancher.

North Dakota placed first in nationals, but Christensen said he thinks Battle Lake, representing Minnesota, did pretty well by placing 13th, and he’s looking forward to staying involved in FFA.

“It just gives you good leadership skills and helps you through life,” he said. “In any job, you have to communicate with people and tell them features and benefits of a product.”

Sophomore Eitzen has been in FFA since 8th grade when the former ag teacher got him interested in it. His friends were also involved in it and enjoyed the competitions, so he decided to join himself, and now he hopes to go into sales for a career.

“It’s a great opportunity to get you ready for your future, teaching leadership and teaching skills to get past high school and college,” he said.

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