The next National FFA Convention & Expo is just around the corner, and if you’re a veteran of the event, you know how to take in all the experiences and sights that it has to offer. For those FFA members who have never been to it, however, there is a lot you may not be aware of!
First, realize that this year will be unique for everyone! Due to the pandemic, some changes will even make the most veteran attendee feel like a rookie. However, one thing that will never change about the National Convention & Expo — the sea of blue that takes over downtown Indianapolis for a week. During this week, FFA members will get to make life time memories and learn so much in such a short time. For those who are participating from home will still get to join in on the fun with the virtual Blue Room and virtual sessions.
So for those first time attendees, it is important that you make the most out of your time. Here are 10 pieces of solid advice from folks who have been to the convention to help ensure your time there is rewarding and memorable. These are experiences that will last a lifetime, so it’s important to make the most of them and have fun!
1. Find a new perspective
“Share your story! There are so many opportunities to share your personal agricultural story with others. Take advantage of learning about the many sectors of this industry. There are so many different perspectives to gain from the giant blue sea of corduroy!” — Laura Church
2. Embrace the moment
“The entire convention is designed with you in mind, so take advantage of every opportunity you can. The one and only time I went, I was sick, and my biggest regret was not being able to enjoy every event, speaker, and conversation FFA makes available to you in one time and place. This is your chance to see all of your hard work and dedication go into amazing opportunities. Embrace every minute of it.” — Alaina Africano
3. Collect business cards
“Go to every session you can, utilize the career expo, meet new people, eat at places you don’t have at home, explore ways to get involved while you are there and have fun! Oh and collect business cards!” — Caitlyn Billups
4. Be inspired
“Listen to as many national officer speeches that you can!” — Monica Stewart
5. Break out of your tribe
“One of the best things about attending National FFA Convention is getting to meet people from all over the county. Don’t just hang around the group you came with, but introduce yourself to others and get to know FFA and agriculture through their perspective. A lot of my favorite memories from FFA involve people from across the county.” — Justin Miller
6. Plan for the future
“Make a point to reach out to farms and businesses in the area and ask for a tour during your trip. Attend as many workshops as you have time for (you’ll meet a lot of people here). The FFA Store and career fair are awesome, set aside some time to walk through both. Yelp good food spots, we found some really good ones in Kentucky and Indiana.” — Hailey Guinn
7. Find your alma mater
“National FFA Convention is a GREAT way to gauge your interest in colleges and universities, especially if you’re interested in going into agriculture. Meeting with them at their booth often allows you to network and make connections that you can use in the future when applying to colleges!” — Logan Strock
8. Get cultured
“100% enjoyed the national talents so try and catch a few of those. Honestly the best thing I enjoyed about it was the change in culture — enjoy the sweet tea and definitely try and book some tours, but try and give yourself some time to appreciate the change of scenery. I would highly recommend trying to find like a candy store, those places always tend to have some of the best history, or a toy shop, as weird as it sounds.” — Shain Braziel
9. Lose some sleep
“Go to everything! You have time to rest when you get home. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” — Judie Church
10. Stay hydrated
“Invest in good arch support! Your feet will thank you later. DRINK WATER and always keep a few Advil available. Immerse yourself in the workshops offered. Dive deep and explore the external stimuli of National Convention. It’s truly a one of a kind event. The Indy Escape Rooms are a must! Test your cognitive skills in a team setting. It’s a perfect bonding experience. You and your advisors will have a BLAST!” — Dominique Mantel
Also, be sure to check out our guide to everything you’ll want to know about the convention and about what makes FFA so great!
Good luck to all the FFA members headed to National Convention, and have fun!
Markie Hageman majored in agribusiness at Fort Hays State University. She is actively involved in her state Cattlemen’s Association, Young Farmers chapter, and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Her AGDAILY.com articles can be found here.