R-P FFA members head to Indy for National Convention

By : 
CHAD SMITH
TRI-COUNTY RECORD

Eight Rushford-Peterson FFA chapter members and adviser Colby Lind will make their way to Indianapolis, Indiana, for the 91st Annual National FFA Convention later this month. The convention runs Oct. 24-28 and promises to be a busy three days, not only for the R-P contingent, but students from across the nation.

For those unfamiliar with the FFA organization, the FFA website describes it as the “premiere youth organization dedicated to preparing members for leadership and careers in the science, business, and technology of agriculture.”

 According to R-P FFA advisor Lind, the national convention crams a lot of learning opportunities and social networking into a short space of time “They have a lot of leadership sessions and conferences they can attend,” he said. “The schedule includes a lot of different events, and possibly the biggest one is a private concert FFA hosts for the students every year. We just found out that this year’s concert features Garth Brooks.”

Lind said (with tongue firmly in cheek) it’s an odd coincidence that he’s fielding more phone calls than usual from parents asking to be chaperones on the trip. The R-P chapter will also do some industry tours while they’re heading to and from Indianapolis, attend some sessions, get some leadership training, and come back home.

“We’ll stop at Fair Oaks Farm of Indiana,” Lind said. “They have a great educational facility and give tours to consumers who visit their farm. We’ll also take some tours that are set up when we get there, including the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (home of the Indy 500).”

While R-P students won’t take part in any of the competitions, the top teams from each state in their respective competitions qualify to compete in the national level. Competing is not a requirement to attend the national convention. Lind said the national convention is a great way to keep kids “fired up” and excited about FFA.

“It’s literally a ‘sea of blue corduroy jackets’ every year at the national convention,” he added. “You have students coming in from all over the country to attend the event. You’ll have students coming in from Puerto Rico to Hawaii and Minnesota to Texas, as well as all points in between.

“It’s such a valuable experience for the students to meet other kids from all parts of the country,” he said. “I’ll be honest, a lot of the people I deal with every day are contacts that I’ve made across the country who have a tie-in with the FFA organization. I really want people to know that FFA is so much more than ‘cows, sows, and plows.’ There’s really something for everyone.”

Many students don’t recognize that FFA offers opportunities in natural resources, nursery landscape, floriculture, sales contests, and more. There are speaking contests and even job interview contests. Lind said there are so many opportunities and things to learn with FFA that kids will use the rest of their lives, no matter what field they go into.

“One thing we’ve struggled with in FFA is getting people to finally realize this is not an activity for just farm kids,” Lind said. “We’re making progress and connecting with a lot of kids, especially in younger levels like 6th, 7th, 8th, and even 9th-grades. We just had our first meeting of the school year in September, and 52 kids showed up. That’s the largest numbers of kids I’ve ever seen interested and involved in FFA at Rushford-Peterson.

“I really hope the kids going to the national convention really enjoy themselves, first and foremost,” he added. “Then, I hope they tell other kids how great the experience was. FFA does a great job of getting kids excited about what they’re actually learning. Sometimes, when you try and teach kids subjects like leadership and parliamentary skills, it can get dry. FFA does a great job of keeping things interesting, which makes it easier for kids to learn.”

Lind said the students have been putting in a lot of work raising funds for the trip through activities like the FFA fruit sales. He feels fortunate that the community is very supportive of kids in FFA. He said the kids work hard and deserve the reward of going to activities like this.

The eight FFA members going to the National Convention include Hans Lind, Jens Lind, Emma Heiden, Hannah Highum, Faith Eide, Page Dailey, Julia Maynard, and Alyssa Nessler.