This week, Indianapolis plays host to nearly 70,000 FFA members from across the country, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. These students have worked months, if not years, for the opportunity to attend the 2023 National FFA Convention.
Many FFA Alumni who attended the event in its original location still wish it would return to where it all began: Kansas City. I can admit I’m one of those people!
Even now, when I visit downtown KC, I think about those meetings and their impact on my life. Despite my wistfulness, I can truly say today’s National FFA Convention means just as much to current members. Rest assured; these kids are taking in experiences they’ve never seen before. They’re meeting members from near and far, learning how their classrooms, lessons, projects and agriculture differ from one school or state to another.
I’ve been blessed throughout my career to attend FFA’s Convention, and each time it is inspiring.
If you’ve been to any of these annual meetings, do you remember the loud music blasting through the conference center to pump up the crowd? These days, I prefer the music to be a bit less earthquake-inducing, but the energy is out of this world. The thump of the beat, the roar of a packed Lucas Oil Stadium, and the thunderous applause of many thousands of young leaders gets everyone’s heart going. I know the joys and discomforts of a National FFA Convention and still hold an inborn fondness for those sessions which, even in the aftermath of less-than-stellar hearing, I cannot deny.
From the keynote speakers to the awards presentations and the FFA Talent Showcase, there is inspiration around every corner. Every year, I still get teary eyed when they announce the new National FFA officer team. These young people have worked toward this goal, and you can’t help but get excited to see it come to fruition for them on stage.
I write this commentary, with a slight stroll down memory lane, because I hope you consider supporting your local FFA chapter. There are young people with big dreams who may need encouragement or assistance close to home. Some chapters attend the National Convention on a regular basis, but some school districts don’t allow students to go, either due to a lack of funds or because they don’t understand the value of Convention.
You can find inspiration through all avenues of the FFA, but allowing members the chance to travel outside their comfort zone and attend Convention encourages them to broaden their horizons and chase their dreams. The inspiration they gain is a blessing, not just for the individual member, but for their chapter and our own communities. These students will someday lead our industry, our classrooms, and perhaps, our government. I hope we all continue to support our local FFA members with as much enthusiasm as other hometown school activities.
Author Janet Adkison is the Director of Public Affairs and Advocacy for Missouri Farm Bureau. Missouri Farm Bureau is the state’s largest farm organization with a presence in every county throughout the state.