The 91st National FFA Convention is in full swing. Students from across the country have gathered at the National FFA Convention & Expo in Indiana. Walking in to the front entrance for the first time can be overwhelming when you don’t know what to expect. Over 65,000 students and guests line downtown Indianapolis at the convention center. Everywhere you turn are blue corduroy jackets
Many first-time attendees lined the hallways trying to wrap their head around their first few days of national convention. Although the blue all looked the same, the yellow stitching on the back differed when students were branching out to meet new friends from different states.
We were able to catch up with some first-time attendees to figure out how their first few days have been going.
The first group of students we caught up with were from opposite sides of the country, Alabama and South Dakota. The group from Alabama said, “We thought everyone would be doing their own thing and stick with their own chapters. I didn’t realize how many new people we would have the chance to meet.”
The students really enjoyed the rodeo on Wednesday night. “We weren’t able to get tickets to Garth Brooks so we went to the rodeo instead. They had saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, bull riding, and bull fighting. Some of the participants were even FFA students.“
We also caught up with Sofie and Kacie from Washington state who flew in on Sunday night to make the most of their trip. “We were expecting to be more like state convention. There are a lot more people here. We could barely find seats for the first session, and there were only two of us!” While they were in for National Convention, they made a trip to Kentucky. They were able to see the Kentucky Derby and the Louisville Slugger museum.
Their favorite part of convention so far was the first key note speaker, Kyle Scheele. “The first session was awesome! Kyle was hilarious and kicked off the week with a bang. He has been our favorite event from the whole trip so far.”
The next group of students we met up with were from Oklahoma and had a 15-hour drive just to get to national convention. Gracie said, “None of our students had been before and this was also our advisors first time as well. This has definitely been a learning experience.”
Instead of getting signatures, the Oklahoma group met new students a different way. Gracie explained, “We did a couple of the signatures in the beginning, but then my chapter started finding people to take pictures with from every state instead.”
The last group we caught up with were from Louisiana and Florida. The group of students from Florida found it refreshing to see different state names on the back of the jackets.
After a lost registration book, the Louisiana boys started over with getting signature and within an hour had an impressive number of signatures. However, they were missing one important signatures. “I found one person for Puerto Rico, and she was on the phone, so we didn’t want to disturb her. We got one signature while we were waiting, turned around and she was gone.” They plan on to continue the search to get all 52 signatures – 50 states, Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.
The overall take away from most students was the size of convention. For a first-time attendee, this was the first of many steps in an increase in involvement and innovation in agriculture. So many opportunities to create friendships and implement new practices for their chapters back home.