2020 — the year that no one could predict. Not even the National FFA Organization. On Friday, the National FFA Organization announced that the 2020 National FFA Convention & Expo would be held virtually — for the first time ever.
Of course with this announcement came mixed reactions. Students were disappointed that they would not be able to gather and experience the National FFA Convention & Expo in its entirety, but they also realized that the decision had to be made. The 2019 National FFA Convention & Expo brought in a record crowd: More than 70,000 students, advisors, and supporters gathered in Indianapolis. With today’s current pandemic and cases on the rise in many areas, those numbers would not be possible this year.
Although this year’s National FFA Convention will look a little different, it will also provide a larger audience! While many members are struggling with this decision, students can also take the time and look at the glass half full. Any student who wants to attend the convention will have that opportunity. FFA members can gather together and have a watch party with their advisor. Another added bonus is the financial aspect — extra funds saved from not traveling this year can roll over into next year and more students can attend next year’s convention.
Students believed this decision, although a tough one, was made with safety in the forefront. Of course that did not remove all the pain that came with this decision.
Breinna Wells, an alumna from the Monmouth-Roseville FFA chapter in Monmouth, Illinois, said, “I believe this is a good idea. It keeps members safe and healthy. Although it is sad that there are members who might not get to fully experience the National FFA Convention because of it. Ultimately though, it’s better to be safe than sorry. It only takes one positive person to affect hundreds or even thousands.”
Even students who are missing out on their opportunity to celebrate their American Degree and walk across that stage understand this heavy decision. Camile Mason with Orlando Colonial FFA in Orlando, Florida, said, “It’s upsetting, but easily understood. Several of my peers and I are getting our American Degrees this year, and will not be able to celebrate at the convention together. It definitely is tough, but it is the right call.
However, many students felt the impact of the decision and realized they have missed out on their opportunity to attend the National FFA Convention. Sara Smallwood, with the Marshall FFA Chapter in Illinois, said, “I understand why they did it and that it was a hard decision. At the same time, it’s my senior year and that was the only year I could ever go, so I won’t get a chance to ever experience convention or be involved in it.”
To help clear up any confusion, the 2020 National FFA Convention & Expo website has answers questions that are on many students’ minds.
- Why did the announcement happen so soon? “National FFA shared in May that a decision regarding the status of the 2020 National FFA Convention & Expo would be made by July 15. However, based on research and information collected by National FFA staff, the decision to hold the 2020 National FFA Convention & Expo as a virtual event was made on June 26. This decision allows attendees, exhibitors, and stakeholders time to adjust and National FFA staff time to plan an impactful virtual experience.”
- Will official delegate business or national officer elections still occur? “Yes, delegates will meet virtually to handle the official business of the organization, including electing a new National FFA Officer Team.”
- What happens if I previously qualified to attend the 2020 National FFA Convention & Expo through an award or recognition program? “Announcements regarding individual award and recognition programs will be made this summer as available. We encourage FFA members to continue to safely pursue their goals with the knowledge that they will be recognized for outstanding achievement.”
- Is there a registration process for the 2020 National FFA Convention & Expo? “All details regarding the event — including registration details — will be announced Aug. 12.”
No matter what happens in the next couple of months, FFA members are resilient and will make the most of this opportunity and can grow in the years to come from their experiences in the National FFA Organization.