“FFA members, why are we here?” Breanna Holbert, the national FFA president inquires.
“To practice brotherhood, honor agricultural opportunities and responsibilities and to develop those qualities of leadership which an FFA member should possess,” Emily Evans, Justin Forseth, Guidry Giles, Brayden Kolwick, Jack Knight, and Rylan Signalness, the six students from Fairfield respond in unison with the thousands of youth present, reciting the FFA opening ceremony pledge as they have at other FFA events in the past. The six students from Fairfield were among the approximately six hundred and fifty members from Montana represented at the 91st National FFA Convention and Expo.
The convention featured a number of engaging leadership workshops such as “May I Take Your Order,” a workshop comparing the skills learned in the service industry to those needed by leaders, “I Need A Hero” about the abilities of people in our communities, and how we often fail to acknowledge them, and “Time is Money: How to Save More of Both and Achieve Your Goals in the Process,” a workshop teaching the important skills of saving money, and managing one’s time.
Emily Evans had the opportunity to sit down with and learn from some of the female leaders in the agriculture industry as part of “Fearless Leaders in Ag.”
The majority of the Fairfield group attended a private Garth Brooks concert for FFA members held in the Indianapolis Colts’ stadium, where the country music singer was given an honorary lifetime FFA alumni membership, complete with his very own personalized FFA jacket.
Jack Knight, and Guidry Giles entered a video competition to get the most video views on Youtube for a chance to win $10,000 for the winning FFA chapter. In the end a chapter from Ohio won the competition.
To quote Emily Evans, National Convention is “A tradition ninety-one years in the making, ever changing so that it may last another ninety-one years.” In the spirit of this changing tradition, a new exhibit was added, the Blue Room, a space dedicated to innovation in agriculture, featuring booths from Amazon, BASF, Corteva Agriscience, Texas A&M engineering, and many other innovative companies. The room also featured speakers discussing the role FFA can play in respecting the planet, feeding the world, and improving lives through efficient water use, improved food distribution, more advanced vaccines and antibiotics for cattle, and precision farming. Rylan, Justin, and Emily had the opportunity to participate in interviews chronicling FFA members’ experiences in the Blue Room.
Each year FFA holds National Days of Service, where thousands of FFA members come together to give back to the city of Indianapolis which so graciously welcomes the sea of blue jackets. This year Emily spent a few hours planting daffodil bulbs along the Cultural Trail that connects all of the museums in the city.
Each day General Sessions were held where winners of the national contests were announced and members had the opportunity to hear from prestigious speakers and the National FFA Officers. At the final General session, in the Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, and the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump were greeted enthusiastically by the approximately 60,000 FFA members present. The President addressed the largest annual youth gathering in the world, speaking about the future and necessity of agriculture in the United States and around the world. At the end of the session, the new team of National FFA Officers for the coming year was announced.
The FFA members truly practiced brotherhood, honored agricultural opportunities and responsibilities and developed their leadership skills, just as they set out to.