Skip to content

GMR FCCLA caps historic season at National Conference

submitted photo
Greenbush-Middle River FCCLA student Meagan Otto poses for a photo at the National FCCLA Conference in San Diego. Otto presented in the STAR Event category of “Professional Presentation,” earning gold at the National Conference.

submitted photo
Greenbush-Middle River FCCLA national participants posed for a group photo in San Diego, the site of the FCCLA National Conference– a trip marking the end of what proved to be an historically successful year for the GMR Chapter. Pictured are (L-R): Front: Bella Burkel, Mya Bennett, McKenna Bennett, and Elizabeth Gust; Back: Savannah Anderson, Brooklyn Wahl, Berlyn Burkel, Sierra Westberg, Meagan Otto, and Audrey Gust; Not Pictured: Chance Christian.


Greenbush-Middle River FCCLA co-advisor Laura Dahl said she was in shock when asked about the year her chapter experienced this year, one capped by nine individual FCCLA national advancers.
“It (this many national advancers) was a first for me and the GMR FCCLA Chapter,” Dahl said via email.
She may have been shocked by the level of success— the most national advancers the chapter has ever had— but was not surprised by these students’ individual success.
“Our members work very hard to earn the success they experience,” Dahl said via email. “The rigor of competing in a national level event sets the bar very high and our students do not fear the challenge. Looking forward to 2023 being a repeat!”
Eleven GMR students, including the nine national advancers, attended the National Conference in San Diego, Calif., June 28-July 3. Dahl, co-advisor Brittany Burkel, and GMR Chapter members Berlyn Burkel and McKenna Bennett spoke about the national conference experience, including the project results, state officer duties, experiences outside the conference, and what they enjoyed most about the experience. They also spoke about this historic season and gave some words of thanks.
GMR FCCLA students advanced various STAR Event projects to the national conference, all achieving no lower than silver recognition. Below are the results.
Gold-Professional Presentation – Meagan Otto
Silver-Professional Presentation – Savannah Anderson
Silver-Food Innovations – Mya Bennett
Silver-Event Management – McKenna Bennett, Berlyn Burkel, Brooklyn Wahl
Silver-Entrepreneurship – Audrey Gust
Silver-Entrepreneurship – Elizabeth Gust
Silver-Repurpose and Redesign -Sierra Westberg
Two other students also attended the conference. Chance Christian attended as a national conference judge and Bella Burkel as the Minnesota State FCCLA President, performing required duties at the event. McKenna Bennett not only presented, but also performed duties there too as the state’s Vice President of Marketing.
As for one of the STAR Event projects, Berlyn Burkel and McKenna Bennett talked about their project, one they did alongside Brooklyn Wahl. Working under the project category of “Event Management,” they organized an event called, “Destination Dining.” They developed a plan and chose an event of their choosing that met the criteria.
They held this event at the United Free Lutheran Church in Greenbush on May 27, featuring a meal catered by Kara Super-Peterson, various entertainment— many highlighting the various extracurricular activities at GMR— and silent auction items.
“We decided to do it because it would… inform people about a few of our extracurriculars,” Berlyn said.
Brittany explained how this event was also a fundraiser for the chapter. A total of 75 individuals attended this event and after expenses, they raised a total of $2,430 from it.
To get to the national conference, students advanced from the regional and state levels. Presenting at the national level was a neat experience for these students.
“It was kind of cool seeing how many people were actually there,” Berlyn said, “and how many people you’re up against in your event.”
McKenna seconded this thought and added, “You’re at the highest level that you could be at, so you felt like a great accomplishment for getting there.”
Dahl appreciated seeing the excitement the GMR students showed while competing in person at the national level. Brittany enjoyed seeing how all the GMR national advancers presented— from seeing how the first-timers navigated those first obstacles to how the veterans— those having been to the national conference before— fine tuned and polished their presentations versus just trying to make it through them.
“(I’m) so super proud of all of them,” Brittany said. “They really truly all did great.”
Brittany explained how they not only succeeded, but challenged themselves, participating in “pretty competitive” events, and enjoyed themselves along the way.
“They went up against a lot at both regional, state and nationals, and just did a really good job,” Brittany said. “What I think attributed to some of the success is that our kids really handpicked things that are of high interest to them, and they really dive in and they make it their own.”
Brittany liked nurturing these students and guiding them to follow the project rubrics to be successful.
“I wish we had speech because these guys are speakers. The confidence level watching them, even this year from beginning to end, was amazing,” Brittany said. “But getting to see a few of them through many years, wow, just, it blows my mind, really, the level of talent they have.”
Bella Burkel and McKenna stayed busy at the national conference with their state officer duties. As part of these duties, they had a state meeting, announced the state’s theme— doing a little skit to go with it— and had the opportunity to be part of a voting delegate team to select those to be on their FCCLA national officer team.
As part of this team, they had the opportunity to examine candidate resumes prior to the conference, listen to all 17 candidate speeches at the national conference, and ask the candidates questions after their speeches. The state’s three voting delegates also had networking sessions with these candidates, seeing how they were in person. As the State President elect last year and State President this year, Bella made the final vote.
“(I enjoyed) also watching our State Officers, Bella and McKenna shine when they are in their element,” Dahl said via email. “They represent our school and community with poise and dignity.”
During the opening general session, as state officers, Bella and McKenna also got to hold the Minnesota flag and encourage fellow Minnesota members to come sit with them— to sit together as a state.
“Both girls had unique schedules, but both made our heads spin,” Brittany said of the chapter’s two state officers. “They’re wildly busy in addition to everything else, so it’s pretty cool. And it’s quite a high honor for those ladies.”
To see the complete story, read the August 3 issue of The Tribune in print or online.

Leave a Comment