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Behind the curtain: California’s FFA Leadership Conference

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Before attending the National FFA Convention & Expo, FFA members get to attend and compete at their state’s conference. There is a lot of preparation and organization that goes into these events. However, there is a lot of excitement that also comes with planning these events. We got a behind-the-scenes sneak peek from a state officer’s perspective of planning the state conference.

Nearly 7,000 FFA members and supporters from across the state of California have been celebrating agricultural education and the agriculture industry during the 94th State FFA Leadership Conference, held March 26 to 29 in downtown Sacramento. We were able to catch up with State Vice President Hannah Kunkle in the days leading up to the event.

Planning the State Leadership Conference has been very humbling according to Kunkle. She explains that although there is a lot of hard work that goes on behind the scenes, she is so thankful for the opportunity to serve the FFA members and is rejuvenated from the excitement expressed on social media by other FFA members.

”I think it is finally hitting all of us that we are finally back in person after two years, we are going to be together in that arena and there will be 7,000 students there,” Kunkle said proudly.

Sacramento will be filled with thousands of FFA members in their iconic blue corduroy jackets! The conference is an opportunity for students to be exposed to a broad range of agricultural science, business, and technology career pathways, while celebrating the accomplishments FFA members achieved over the past school year. This time-honored tradition, held virtually the last two years, is in-person and hosted in Sacramento for the first time since 1929.

As a student-led organization, general conference sessions will provide the opportunity for middle and high school students enrolled in agricultural education classes to conduct the business of the California FFA Association. They will vote on constitutional proposals and elect the new officers who will lead the association through the 2022-23 year.

This year, the FFA members will debate and vote on many different topics including a change to how the nominating committee works for state officers. In addition to voting on different proposals, Kunkle noted there would be a polling question to increase the accessibility for all FFA members. “We are also polling our delegates to see what they think about creating a standard Spanish FFA Creed,” Kunkle explained.

In addition to planning the logistics of the California State FFA Leadership Conference, Kunkle and the other state officers are able to give a retiring address. A retiring address acts as one of the last opportunities for state officers to leave a message for their fellow FFA members. Kunkle’s retiring address is all about having hope.

Kunkle tells AGDAILY that she plans to tell the story of why she has hope, how she found hope in her life, and how others can do the same.

“After these last few years, it is sometimes hard to find hope, especially being away from family and friends.” Kunkle continues, “There is a light at the end of the tunnel and it is going to get better.” Although nervous about performing in front of thousands of FFA members and supporters, Kunkle stated she was excited because the message comes straight from the heart.

Lastly, Kunkle says they planned a surprise for the state officer teams who served the past two years and who weren’t able to have an in-person convention.

“This year we are doing a special surprise in the first session to honor those two teams. Almost make it seem like it is their conference as well. We are excited for that and have been working tirelessly at making sure they will be honored in the way they should be with all the hard work during their years.”

So while the sea of FFA jackets take over Sacramento we embrace the future of agriculture and all of the amazing things these FFA members will accomplish.

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