On October 23rd, 67,000 FFA members traveled to Indianapolis, Indiana for the 91st annual National FFA Convention. This convention creates the sea of blue jackets that fill one of the better-known streets in Indianapolis called FFA Way. FFA Way is the street that all members will use to get to Bankers Life Fieldhouse, where the general sessions are held, along with other events like the National Band and Chorus concert. Everything else, including most competitions, the career expo, workshops, and the FFA shopping mall are held in the convention center.
The National FFA Career Expo is filled with agricultural based colleges and different companies like Merck Animal Health. Merck recently invented the Whisper Veterinary Stethoscope, which is noninvasive tool that was specifically designed to not only diagnose and confirm bovine respiratory disease, but also estimate its severity in 8 seconds. I spoke with Sadie LaPointe, a senior at Watauga, who wants to work for a company like Merck. When I asked her what she thought of this invention and the expo as a whole, she replied, “Inventions like this are what allow farmers to have life-saving technology in their hands. This career expo is also a great chance for all members to get a better grasp on possible jobs and future employers.” The National FFA Expo is home to this company and many more like it during the week of convention. The FFA Mega Store is where you can buy any of the merchandise that can be found online as well as some limited edition clothing items, depending on the year. This year marked the 75th year of our partnership with John Deere, so there were a few different designs of sweatshirts available for purchase.
Each general session has its own unique purpose, but all of them have one thing in common. They all have speeches in them. The sessions not only hold these inspiring speeches, they are also filled with award ceremonies in which FFA members from all over the nation are recognized for their hard work. In between the awards ceremonies and the speeches are the famous performances of the National FFA Band and Chorus. Lindsey Fletcher, a two-year chorus member, shared what being on the National FFA Chorus meant to her. “Being a National FFA Chorus member is honestly so much fun because you get to be backstage and meet the national officers, and possibly hangout with them for a bit. You also get to perform at the coolest places such as the rodeo or on the stage. Those 69,000 people you’re performing in front of can make it very nerve-wracking for anyone especially if you have a solo, because it’s on tv and live-streamed.”
This convention is a place where members go to learn about themselves, the organization, and what they can do as a leader in their community and local FFA chapter. Its purpose is to showcase the accomplishments of the entire organization, and to create long lasting relationships with a very diverse group of like minded individuals. National FFA Convention, on the surface, can seem like just an event to some. To the 67,000 members, though, it’s life-changing.
Everything Agriculture Writer