Life in the Saddle

Horses were in my life since I can remember. I grew up with a grandfather who roped, and parents who didn’t have much of an interest in horses. Lucky for me I had very supportive parents and I remember the day I got my first pony. My first ponies name was Star. From Star I got Sugar, to Spitfire, to Sonny. After Sonny, I got a horse that changed my life forever, Heart.

Heart was a a big brown horse that every girl dreamed of owning, but lucky for me, I was the lucky owner. I learned everything on Heart and he took me to the Jr. High/High School National Finals six years in a row. I also qualified for the Little Britches National finals, and placed 4th in the world in my division in 2010. From there I went onto countless rodeo’s and making friends all over the world. In 2012 I was blessed with a little black mare with more attitude than anyone could imagine. She was a “Mini Heart” in my eyes and continued to take me to the pay window. I had a great few years with both horses but I could only take one with me to school. It was a hard decision but I knew Heart deserved to retire, so the little black mare, Lightning, came to school with me.

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Joessa and Heart. 

Lightning and I had a bond no one understood. She was my pride and joy, but all good stories have to come to an end. In 2016 I sold Lightning to pay for my college. It was heartbreaking, and I wasn’t sure if I would be the same not owning a horse.

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Joessa and Lightning 


Six months ago I was able to purchase a young horse named Corona. Currently she is in training with me and looking great! She is still learning, but I have high hopes for this youngster! Owning a young horse is very humbling and so rewarding.

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Joessa and Corona. 

Every horse I owned shaped the woman I am today. Horses are my passion and I don’t believe I will ever live without them, I don’t believe I could.

In sisterhood,


Joessa Giesen is an Animal Science major. She is originally from Backus, MN. Joessa currently serves as our Risk Management Chair. 


Forever Blue

When asked about FFA, most people first think of the blue corduroy jacket. “The front of your jacket says who you are, the back says where you are from, but no where on the jacket says who you will be or where you will go.” This saying has stuck with me throughout my years in this wonderful organization. Being in FFA taught me to have pride in who I am and where I’m from, but to always remember to look forward to where I’m going and the endless possibilities I have. FFA is an organization that is offered in coordination with agriculture programs at schools throughout the nation. It offers students numerous chances to enhance their leadership skills and personal growth.


I have a strong passion for agriculture that started when I was in young. I was encouraged to join FFA, and that is where my passion grew. By joining FFA, I was able to connect with others who were involved in agriculture. I held various chapter and regional officer positions, and was able to take on several responsibilities to help lead our chapter. This included being chapter President my senior year. I worked hard to encourage other FFA members to be active in our community, and hopefully I helped to sparked their passion for agriculture. While in FFA, I took part in several contests, camps, and workshops. I enhanced my knowledge in agriculture issues, worked on my public speaking skills, and networked with professionals. My favorite memory of being in FFA was when I was honored to be able to receive the American FFA Degree last fall in Indianapolis, Indiana.


I believe FFA has helped me succeed, and push myself to get to where I am today. This organization has also helped me to meet many lifelong friends that share the same passion as I do. In high school we may have been known as the ones who wore camouflage almost everyday, but FFA members are the most dedicated and hardworking people I know. I loved my years in FFA and was sad to wear my jacket for the last time. However, our Detroit Lakes FFA is working on starting an Alumni chapter. This is a great opportunity to be able to give back to an organization that has given so much to many. An Alumni gives adults an opportunity to work with current FFA members to help them study for contests, set up fundraisers, and be a mentor if they need any advice. I know I speak for many past members when I say, even though we may not be wearing the corduroy anymore, we will always be forever blue.

In sisterhood,


Kelly Schouviller is junior from Callaway, MN majoring in Crop and Weed Science with a minor in Animal Science. Kelly is the chapter Secretary and Sergeant of Arms.

Growing up Horses

I was incredibly lucky to grow up being able to do what I love- riding horses! Starting off with lessons from a reputable trainer in my area, she truly instilled a love and a passion for the animal. I learned so much about how to care for horses and basic riding skills. As I grew older and more experienced, I knew I wanted a challenge.

I began leasing a seasoned show horse. I showed at local shows competing in western pleasure and horsemanship, hunter under saddle, English equitation, bareback equitation, and even a little showmanship. Learning the ropes of showing was all fun and games, but I couldn’t do it without my mentor and lessor, Lacey. Looking back, I see how much she sacrificed to get me to various shows.



Many of our shows were cancelled due to rain, but she continued to haul me in all sorts of funky weather. All the little shows helped me gear up for showing in open classes at the Minnesota State Fair. That will always be a memory that I hold close. Coming in as a twelve-year-old showing in classes of 16+ people, Lacey never let me second guess myself. I went in there and had the ride of my life winning two of the classes I was showing in.



She was so much more than “the gal who owns the horse I’m leasing.” She spent countless (unpaid) hours with me, teaching me all about what it takes to be a horse woman. Spending hours upon hours banding, bathing, and clipping. Lending me just about everything from show clothes to tack. She truly is an inspiration and everything a “can-do-cowgirl” is cracked up to be.

She’s the reason that I’ve found my independence hauling and showing on my own. Although I’m barrel racing now, I think of her and continue to be passionate in what I do.

I’ve been lucky to be able have the same opportunity she had with me. I offered my seasoned show horse for lease as I left for college. I’ve been able to mentor and teach just as she had with me. I’m thankful for all the lessons I’ve learned from Lacey, and I am thoroughly enjoying my mentoring experience.

So, thank you Lacey for showing me how to be fearless and confident in everything I do. A perfect example of a role model and an inspiration to become one myself. And an exact representation of what a woman in agriculture should be.

In sisterhood,


Erin Corcoran is a Junior majoring in Equine Science with a minor in Ag Business. She is originally from Champlin, MN.

Why it’s not just a sorority

Repost from Sarah’s personal blog page:

Think of the first thing that pops into your head when you think of a sorority. You might think of the stereotypical sorority you see in movies and TV shows. Pink, glitter, strange matching outfits, and synchronized chants. You may even think of some negative Greek life connotations such as parties, skipping classes, and prank feuds with other sororities.

Let’s take a step back to look at what it actually is. I’ve been a member of Sigma Alpha Professional Agriculture Sorority since fall semester of my freshman year at NDSU. My parents were not exactly thrilled at my decision to join a sorority, because all they knew about it was what they saw in the media. Parties, Pink, and mean girls. Joining Sigma Alpha was one of the best decisions I could have made in my college career.

You see, Sigma Alpha has done so much more for my professional development and myself as a person then I ever could’ve imagined. Not only have I made life long friends with a high achieving group of women interested in agriculture at NDSU, but I now have a country wide network of sisters that I already have something in common with. Through professional development activities at conferences, retreats, and meetings I am better prepared to enter the workforce, knowing how to go into meetings prepared, and best represent my company.

My scholastic achievements have been pushed through GPA requirements, weekly study hours, and “fort finals” spent during finals week in the library with my sisters. There is always someone to help you study for a class you may have difficulty in. Old tests and quizzes to study in classes you haven’t taken yet. A cheerleader to celebrate with when you both ace that test you spent hours studying together for. Someone to work harder with for the next test when you’re disappointed.

Then there is what Sigma Alpha does for the community. Multiple fundraising events to benefit local charities, working closely with professional at career expos, and even volunteering outside of Sigma Alpha walking dogs, working in food pantries and soup kitchens, and cleaning up trash along the road. Our national philanthropy is Heifer International, which works to provide livestock and education to people in need in developing countries. Raising money to send a family in poverty a flock of chickens to feed themselves. Teaching children about where their food comes from, and what kind of meat comes from a cow versus a pig. Ag in the Classroom is another organization we work with to educate the public about agriculture, especially in schools.

Then, there is the professional benefit of trying to get a job right out of college. Professionals in the company who you are interviewing with may have had experience with one of your other sisters, or are simply impressed by your involvement in a professional organization.

When you have the skills and knowledge you learn through Sigma Alpha, you walk with confidence into the boardroom for that big meeting. You take time out of your weekend to go clean up trash in your community. You stop in the grocery store when someone is concerned about the labels on the meat. You become a better person, because only the best have the heart of the bull.

Sarah McNaughton – Ag Communications


Senior Slide

Well, it is now week four of the fall semester and to tell you the truth,


Not going to lie, senioritis has been kicking my butt.  Getting back to the swing of things here at NDSU after summer break wasn’t the easiest thing to do. Especially when I felt as though I didn’t get a true summer break between my school credits and internship.

This school year, I am living off campus with three other roommates, a cat, and a dog.  The house sometimes feels a bit cramped, but we make it work.  Thanks to my awesome roommates, along with the support of my sorority sisters, and parents, I am now getting in a routine and am more motivated to “get down to business to defeat” my classes this school year (Okay, I admit, I am a Disney nerd. If you didn’t sing the song from Mulan when you read that, I forgive you… this time).


College is not all fun and games. Being away from home makes you feel like you have all the freedom in the world, but I have learned that I needed to prioritize school and school organizations to get everything done (hopefully without procrastinating). I am so glad that Sigma Alpha became one of my top priorities last fall when I rushed as a transfer student.  I learned that I didn’t need to face school and life alone.  The day I decided to rush was the day my family and support system expanded.  I wouldn’t have traded this experience for anything else.

In Sisterhood,

Amber Willis

Amber Willis is a senior from Willmar, MN majoring in Agriculture Economics.

Following my Passion: Finding Myself in College

The days are getting shorter, the bonfires are burning brighter, and the leaves are falling. Sweater weather is upon us and that can only mean one thing. It’s almost time for the World Dairy Expo! For me, that means one thing. The Collegiate Dairy Judging Competition. As a senior in college I finally get to judge my last, and most important contest of my career. All the months of preparation, late nights, and hundreds of sets of reasons are finally going to pay off.

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I’m filled with so many emotions as Expo is approaching. I’m excited, because this is the biggest and most important contest that I will ever judge. I’m nervous, because it’s a high-pressure contest that will put out national rankings. I’m sad, because it’s the end of my judging career. But most of all, I’m feeling blessed. I’m blessed to have been a part of such a supportive community of students who are passionate about the dairy industry. I’m blessed to have gotten the opportunity to network and meet industry professionals. I’m blessed to have seen some of the World’s best dairy cattle. And I’m blessed to have gotten the chance to travel around the United States, to places like Louisville, Kentucky, and Fort Worth, Texas.

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NDSU Collegiate Dairy Judging Team, 9th place team overall, Louisville Kentucky

For me, judging dairy cattle isn’t just about winning the contest. It’s about pursuing my passion. My passion for the dairy industry, and my passion for excellent quality cattle. It’s about taking a chance, and following through with the opportunity of a lifetime. An opportunity that was only possible during my time here at college.

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NDSU Collegiate Dairy Judging Team, Fort Worth Texas, 5th place team overall

If I could give any advice to an incoming freshman, or anyone new to college it would be this: take advantage of every opportunity. College is full of them! College isn’t just about taking classes and earning a degree, it’s much more than that. It’s about finding yourself and what you love. So, my advice is to find your passion, and get involved with an organization. You will not regret it. For me, my passion is agriculture. Joining the NDSU Dairy Club, NDSU Collegiate Dairy Judging team, and Sigma Alpha Professional Agricultural Sorority are decisions I made to follow my passion and because of this I’ve gotten to travel, meet new people, and grow both professional and as a person. It has all been life changing.

So, as I prepare for my final Collegiate Dairy Judging Competition in Madison, Wisconsin on October 2nd, I reflect on how I got here in the first place. I found what I love, I took a chance, and I tried something new. As a result, I have made lifelong friends, developed professional skills, and gotten once in lifetime opportunities to travel and learn about the things that I love. To me, that is the true college experience.

In Sisterhood,


morgyn d
Morgyn Drietz is a Senior from Canby, MN. She is currently in her last semester on campus as an Agriculture Education major and will spend next semester student teaching near Minot, ND. Morgyn currently serves as the 1st Vice President for Sigma Alpha.

Recap Fall 2017 Rush Week

Pre-Rush Week Excitement …

Monday Info Night!  — 13 “rush” girls in attendance!

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Wednesday – Guest speaker and alumni, Ashley Bettenhausen, shared her experiences in Sigma Alpha! 

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Friday – Ag Education Event at Oak Grove Elementary in Fargo! 

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Big THANK YOU to Samantha Ruger and her recruitment committee for organizing this amazing week. Your dedication and leadership does not go unnoticed!