Now is the time, your Just One moment. The National FFA Convention is coming up in two weeks and you are ready. Even if you have never been before, we got the scoop to fill you in so you will be a pro by the time you get to Indianapolis. You have planned, rehearsed, and studied for this week. You successfully purchased your Garth Brooks ticket while studying countless hours, putting in hard work and dedication to set yourself apart. To top it all off, you have sold fruit to every neighbor on the street so you could make this journey.
You know your speech backwards and forwards. You know each soil type and the differences in color. The time is finally in sight. You have looked over the sites for the national day of service and searched the workshops to pick out your favorites. You know all the speakers and can’t wait for Mary Snapp, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Philanthropies, to empower everyone in the room to achieve their best. You have talked to other students and alumni, but you may still be nervous for your first time.
As a “greenhand” so to speak myself, I reached out to an expert of the topic. Justin Mauss, nine time National FFA Convention-goer and fourth year FFA teacher, to give advice to all new attendees. Mauss has been to national convention three times in high school, four times in college, and twice as an FFA teacher at Carthage Technical Center in Missouri. Out of a group of 300 FFA Students, 10 percent of the them have the privilege to attend national convention.
Mauss’s modo: “Don’t leave anything on the table.” Mause said he tells his students, “Try to get as much experience as you can while you are there. Meet as many people as you can. Be sure to ask questions when you go on the industry tours and pay attention during session. Finally, the whole reason for national convention is to make note of what other chapters are doing, and try to bring something back to your chapter to make it better.”
“The whole reason for national convention is to make note of what other chapters are doing, and try to bring something back to your chapter to make it better.”
A great way to meet other FFA students from across the country, Mauss recommends using the program book. In the back is a challenge to get signatures from all 50 states and two territories, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. “During Career Fair, try and find someone from every state. Don’t be afraid to add them on social media and stay in contact.” In today’s heavily influenced social media world, it makes it easy to stay in contact with friends from across the world. These connections can lead to great networking possibilities, and if nothing else just to hear someone else’s agriculture story.
During the national convention, there is so much going on. However, a few favorites that Mauss says you just can’t miss. “I always look forward to the opening session of national convention. The whole room is full of excitement especially when the National FFA Band comes marching in. The national officers bring so much energy to the table, and the speaker always gets the students motivated.”
Last word of advice from Mauss, “National FFA Convention is short, you think you are going to be able to blow off time, but it flies by. You really don’t have enough time to get everything you want to accomplish done. As soon as you hit the ground in Indianapolis, you need to be ready to meet new people and be ready for a new experience.”
Even though Justin has been nine times to national convention, he says he is constantly learning. “Every time I go to convention I get something new out of it. Each time I have been, I come back with new information for my chapter and new connections.”
Just one. One time to meet new people, one chance to make connections, and one time to create memories that will last a lifetime.