For many FFA members, the academic year is coming to an unforeseen end as schools have moved online across the nation to mitigate COVID-19’s spread in the U.S. This means that in-person events like chapter banquets and state FFA conventions are not happening as planned this spring. However, state FFA associations are adapting to the issue by moving convention sessions and activities online.
Last week, Ohio FFA held its 2020 Ohio FFA Celebration with prerecorded video events such as retiring officer addresses, proficiency awards and state degree recognitions. Holly McClay, Ohio FFA president, said the choice to call the weeklong event a celebration rather than a convention is intentional.
“We didn’t want it to feel like we’re trying to make a convention out of something that’s just not,” McClay said. “But we still want to celebrate our members.”
For award winners, this year’s experience will not be the same as walking across a stage, McClay said, but she said they are trying their best to show pride for Ohio FFA members’ achievements.
For Kansas FFA, its convention will be held during its original dates, May 27 to 29. Whittling down seven sessions to four, the Kansas state officer team will conduct its convention over Facebook Live. Delegate business will occur over Zoom calls, which allow delegates to engage with their committees, said Abby Goins, Kansas FFA vice president.
“We’re just trying to make the experience as cool and energetic as possible,” Elizabeth Wright, Kansas FFA secretary, said. “The team we’ve been working with on filming everything has been bringing a lot of energy, and we’re trying to make it a one-of-a-kind thing.”
“Our motto is ‘Living to Serve,’” Goins said. “We’ve gotten the really cool opportunity to serve in such a time of need.”
States such as Ohio and Kansas have concentrated their digital conventions into the span of a few days, but California FFA is approaching its state convention sessions in modules, like “dropping episodes of a TV show online,” California FFA assistant advisor Dane White said.
California FFA completed its delegate business and state officer elections by convening via Zoom. Then, state officer election results were announced over Facebook Live. For the sessions, White said he anticipates that state officers will begin filming sessions on a soundstage in June; Sacramento County’s shelter-in-place order currently lasts until May 22, so the officers are at their homes.
Adding on to the video modules, White said California FFA is developing curriculum to go along with the modules.
“People can view that at will this summer,” White said. “But we also know that there’s a chance that teachers could really benefit from using that in their classrooms.”
Out of this unusual time, White said reimagining state convention is an opportunity to take a proactive approach to how conventions can evolve in the future.
“My hope is that the California state convention for perpetuity will look better,” White said.
To see how other state FFA associations are handling their conventions, visit the state association webpage on FFA.org and click on a state to visit the association’s website.