“The owl is a time-honored emblem of knowledge and wisdom. Being older than the rest of you, I am asked to advise you from time to time, as the need arises. I hope that my advice will always be based on true knowledge and ripened with wisdom.”
As advisor of the Redwood Falls Future Farmers of America (FFA) Chapter for more than 35 years, Ben Broberg stood by the owl and took the words he stated hundreds of times as part of the FFA meeting opening ceremony very seriously.
In fact, now long retired, he can still recite them.
Broberg, who started his education career in 1950 in Wabasso and moved one year later to Redwood Falls retired from teaching in 1987, and during those decades dozens of future farmers, business leaders, entrepreneurs, office holders and educators walked into his classroom. Each one walked out having gained guidance that would change their lives forever.
The impact Broberg had during his career lifetime led to his nomination and selection for induction into the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame. Broberg was honored locally at an event held April 21 in Redwood Falls.
Broberg, who grew up in rural Milaca, attributes his interest in agriculture to his family, as he was able to learn as he watched others, including his grandparents. His grandfather, who came to the United States from Sweden, settled in Minnesota, raised a family and demonstrated to Broberg the value of hard work.
Having earned both bachelors and masters degrees in business, Broberg’s grandfather brought that knowledge to the table helping to create a successful life in many areas. It was from his grandfather that Broberg learned the skill of grafting, which became a very important element of his education program in Redwood Falls.
It was also his grandfather who emphasized the importance of parliamentary procedure.
During the ceremony held at Wood Dale in Redwood Falls many of Broberg’s students recalled how much of an emphasis was placed on proper use of Robert’s Rules of Order.
A few days after the ceremony Broberg recalled his time in education and offered with pride the fact that his students were well-respected in the community because of the training in parliamentary procedure they received from him.
He even recalled the high-school English teacher in Redwood Falls coming to him and asking permission to have some of his students come and help teach the parliamentary procedure unit each year in her class.
Sen. Gary Dahms held up his copy of Robert’s Rules of Order as he spoke about Broberg, adding over the years he has utilized the lessons he learned from Broberg in various leadership roles he has taken on, including as a Minnesota senator.
Animals were always a big part of Broberg’s life, and some students recalled Broberg’s adventures in hauling animals in the back of his car. Judging teams also saw success under Broberg over the years, and he attributed that to a love for animals that he learned from watching his grandmother.
Broberg said his grandmother was great with dairy cattle and sheep. She was the one who milked the cows and sheared the sheep, he said, adding she did both as good as anyone – probably better.
The Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame was established in 2004 to honor those individuals who have made significant contributions to support and move forward the goals of agriculture education and FFA.
Broberg was one of eight individuals inducted in 2018, and it was LuAnn (Dahms) Schloesser, one of Broberg’s former students who nominated him.
Those who spoke of Broberg and recalled their memories of their time under his tutelage talked about the positive influence he made on their lives.
“You taught me to follow my passion,” said Pat Dingels of Redwood Falls, who added in those days girls were not always encouraged to pursue careers in ag.
Gene Dahms recalled Broberg’s message to think outside of the barn, adding he stressed not all who work in agriculture have to be farmers.
Bruce Tiffany said Broberg taught him to see the big picture in agriculture. Tiffany added the personal skills he developed in Broberg’s classes are things that never go out of style.
Broberg who had a stroke a few years back admitted he does not remember things the way he used to, but the one who stressed the importance of lifelong learning to his students put that concept into practice after he recognized the fact that the stroke had resulted in memory loss. He asked a nurse for a dictionary, and started going through it relearning words to add them back into his vocabulary.
For Broberg it meant a lot to see so many of his former students together in one place that Saturday afternoon and to hear them say such kind words about him and the impact he had on their lives.
Broberg initially taught veterans when he came to the area, but moved into high-school ag education within a couple of years.
When he first started working with the Redwood Falls program he said the FFA chapter was not all that strong, and it took a few years before the students started buying into the ideas behind it. Broberg admitted he was not involved in FFA until his senior year in high school, adding in Milaca it was not emphasized either.
For a brief period of time Broberg’s mother taught school. Teaching is something that came naturally for Broberg, who found his niche being able to share with generations of future farmers his passion for the agriculture industry.
Kevin Kuehn said he will never forget the firm handshake that was always offered by Broberg, adding to this day he thinks of it when he encounters someone who doesn’t have one. A handshake shows confidence, said Broberg, and that can open a lot of doors.