Former FFA Officers “Exert an Influence” by Coming Home


Lisa Ahrens Peterson as National FFA President, 1988-89

Lisa Ahrens Peterson as National FFA President, 1988-89

Lisa Ahrens Peterson and her husband, J.R., didn’t merely recite The Creed as FFA members. They’ve been living each day, for more than a decade, according these very words.

As a member of the Osage FFA Chapter, Lisa served her local chapter as reporter and president.  She also served as: District Vice President, 1995-96; North Central State Vice President, 1996-97; State President, 1997-98; and National FFA President from 1998-99.

“All of my job opportunities were as a result of my FFA experiences, and the network of individuals I met through the years. I also believe that I advanced in my career faster because of the skill set I gained through FFA including leadership, public speaking and teamwork.”

“FFA helped me in college, as well,” adds Lisa. “As a result of my FFA experiences, I was selected for Iowa State University’s President’s Leadership Class. Approximately 30 incoming freshman were chosen and met weekly with President Jischke at his house. I got to know President Jischke very well, and he eventually recommended me for the State Board of Regents. Governor Branstad knew me from my State FFA officer days and recommended me to the Iowa Senate for confirmation. I spent the next 5 years serving on the board. It all began with FFA!”

FFA is a tremendous vehicle to teach leadership, provide personal growth opportunities, and prepare young people for a career in one of over 300 ag-related careers. Lisa said she’s amazed at the number of people she’s met who credit FFA to their success. One such individual is ISU’s Dr. Neil Harl, a nationally recognized expert on taxation, estate planning, business planning and agricultural law. Dr. Harl credits FFA public speaking contests for helping him cure his stutter.


J.R. and Lisa Peterson are excited about the opportunity to return to their family farm near Osage, Iowa

Another individual Lisa met through FFA became her husband. She and J.R. met when they were both candidates for national office. Lisa was elected national president, and the National FFA Organization hired J.R. to staff Made for Excellence and the Washington Leadership Conferences. A few years after they were married, J.R. went to work for the National FFA Foundation as Director of Corporate Contributions. Lisa worked for Dow AgroSciences for one year, and then joined the Agri Business Group (ABG) as a senior business analyst. ABG became part of Adayana, and Lisa worked there for nine years.

After her children were born, Lisa chose to work part-time for Adayana as special projects manager. Today Lisa is proud to have the title of “stay at home mom” for three: Ethan, 6; Anna, 4; and Elise, 18 months. She also feels blessed to return to the farm where she was raised.

“I am now the third generation to live on this farmstead and in this house!” says Lisa with excitement. “I love the freedom we have to let kids go outside and play. I also love the opportunity to teach them the value of hard working and working together as a family to get the job done. I also cherish the ability to foster their love of agriculture and provide them with an understanding of where their food comes from. “

In addition to agriculture, J.R. and Lisa share a passion for travel. Lisa’s hobbies also include reading, exercising and gardening. She enjoys the fruits of her labor all year-long through canning and freezing. Today Lisa is sharing with us one of her new favorite recipes because it’s quick, easy, and healthy!

Slow-Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup



  • 2-4 chicken breasts (frozen or fresh)
  • 1 can of petite diced tomatoes (14-15 oz)
  • 1 can enchilada sauce (10 oz)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 can chopped green chili peppers (4 oz)
  • 1 can white shoepeg corn or tender white sweet corn (11 oz)
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained (15 oz)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf



  1. Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-6 hours or until chicken is fully cooked.
  3. When chicken is fully cooked, remove from the slow cooker, shred and return back to the soup.  Chicken should shred very easily with two forks when fully cooked.
  4. Serve soup with fresh lime juice, cheese, fresh cilantro, and crushed tortilla chips!  Enjoy!

COOK’S TIP: I like to use frozen tomatoes from my garden instead of canned tomatoes.


Photo from Betty Crocker