Tours, a career show, workshops, concerts, and 45,000 FFA members. Where can all of this be found? The 84th National FFA Convention.
The convention is held in Indianapolis, Indiana every year, and FFA members across the 50 states gather together. Nineteen members and two advisers from the Lamar FFA Chapter attended this year’s National Convention.
The group departed from Lamar High School on Monday, Oct. 17. The drive took 20 hours, six of which were spent in St. Louis, Missouri. There, they enjoyed a boat cruise and a tour of the Gateway Arch. They arrived in Indianapolis at 10 p.m. Tuesday night.
“The ride was long and not very comfy, but I got to laugh and talk with my friends a lot,” said Becky Estes, junior.
On Wednesday, the group toured the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was established in 1909 and is still used today for the Indianapolis 500, Brickyard 400, and Red Bull Indianapolis GP races.
Students learned the history of the track, and, for some, it had a more significant meaning.
“It is cool to see a place that means something to you and that you see on T.V. all the time,” said Austin Peck, senior and Lamar FFA Chapter President.
Along with the speedway tour, the FFA members also went on a tour of Pleasant Acres Farm.
On this tour, the group saw how vegetables were produced using natural growth, a hydroponic gardening system, and special equipment used for energy conservation.
Nick Grasmick, junior, said, “I have not been on many farms. It was a good tour because it showed behind the scenes of what you see on the side of the road.”
The drive to the farm was just as interesting as the farm itself.
“Seeing the agricultural landscape of that area during the drive out was interesting, and realizing just how different it is from how we live,” said Peck.
The farm land in Indian is much more fertile because they receive more rain annually than Colorado does. Just over the five days the FFA Chapter spent there, it rained three days straight.
Along with the tours, the group attended leadership workshops and the career show.
The workshops were held at different times during the day from Wednesday through Friday. Members could choose from 40 different workshops ranging from banking tips to careers in the United States Army. Each member was able to find at least two workshops they were interested in.
“The workshops were very educational,” said Theresa Butler, junior. “The speakers didn’t just preach about being leaders, they taught us about everyday life.”
The career show is one of the most popular parts of National Convention. It is a chance to see 96 different colleges across the nation and exposes students to many different opportunities. Also, it provides entertainment and a chance to win many different prizes.
The FFA group also attended two concerts, Blake Shelton, and Brule, a Native American band.
The Brule concert was intriguing and exposed people to how Native Americans have an impact on agriculture.
On the last night, the group went to a rodeo at the Indianapolis Fairgrounds. They watched bulls and broncos, while also experiencing a rodeo different from the ones in Colorado.
National Convention is a great experience for many FFA members and can beneficial to them.
“Going to National Convention shows we support FFA, and the more people go, the more they learn. It shows we aren’t just in it for the classes,” said Butler.
Advisors also have noticed that the trip affects students in a positive way, and that it is vital to give members the chance to go.
“It is important to expose students to maximum opportunities…to maximize everything! We try to get students to see as much as possible, because you never know what will interest them,” said Charity Stocking, Ag advisor and first time attendee of National Convention. I am still learning too. Agriculture changes every day.”
Cliff Marts is an Ag advisor at Lamar High School, who also went. This year was his ninth National Convention as a teacher.
“It is good for members to go for two reasons. First, they get to meet other members across the 50 states plus Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Second, it will hopefully broaden their cultural awareness in other countries and areas in the United States,” said Marts.
Members saw benefits of the trip that were not only educational. It brought the group closer together because they got to know each other better, and built character by helping them learn how to incorporate everything they learn into their lives.
“You get to be with other FFA members and groups. You build a stronger bond and build better character,” said Colin Mahanay, sophomore. “It makes you closer to friends and the FFA group.”
This year’s National Convention has proved educational to each person who went, including the advisors. Many students plan to go again next year if given the chance. It truly is a worth-while for many FFA members, and it is a privilege for those who get to go.
By Jamie Nordyke
Filed under: Agriculture, community, Education, Lamar, School, Youth · Tags: Ag Advisor, Blake Shelton, Brule, Charity Stocking, Cliff Marts, concerts, education, FFA, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Lamar High School, National Convention, Native American, Pleasant Acres Farm, workshops