FFA Brings Seven to National Convention

The National FFA Convention is held annually in Indianapolis.


photo creds to @atlanticFFA on Twitter

FFA IS LIFE – The seven attending members pose with 2018 graduate Cale Pellett. Pellett was one of two Atlantic alumni to participate in contests at the National Convention this year.

With the theme of “Just One,” 2018 marked the 91st annual National FFA Convention, held in Indianapolis, Indiana. According to the 2017-18 National FFA Officer Team, the idea is that “one moment, one encounter, one opportunity is all it takes to radically change the course of our lives.” The National FFA Convention is one of the world’s largest student conventions, with a total of 69,944 attendees and over 400 exhibiting companies recorded in 2018.

From ages 12-21, the National FFA organization has 653,359 members in 8,568 chapters throughout the 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The foundational motto is “Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve.” The location used to change between Louisville and Indianapolis every three years, but due to the growing rate of attendance, Louisville is now unable to host. The convention is to remain in Indianapolis until 2024 when other options will be reconsidered.

At the National Convention, members can visit sessions, listen to keynote speakers, go to a concert and tour an expo floor with agricultural education and industry opportunities. FFA advisor Eric Miller has been taking students to the National Convention for a total of 25 years: six years in Atlantic and 19 years during his previous years of teaching. This year, the Atlantic troop was consisted of seven members, compared to 14 from 2017. Seniors Tyler Comes and Katie York, juniors Tate DenBeste, Corri Pelzer and Adriana Mendez, and sophomores Craig Alan Becker and Hannah Carlson made up the group. York, Atlantic Chapter Secretary, said this allowed the group to become closer than in the past and “just very tight.”

According to Miller, this year was a little different than the others. “We didn’t do as many tours as I would have liked because we had kids competing in contest,” Miller said. Those “kids” were 2018 graduates Emily Saeugling and Cale Pellett. Saeugling competed in the prepared public speaking contest, finishing fifth, while Pellett competed in a proficiency award for his corn and soybean operation, and finished second. York said she was able to take pictures for this and it was “amazing.”

The Atlantic troop was still able to tour the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something they do almost every year. Comes, the Atlantic Chapter President and Southwest District Vice President was in his third year of attendance. He said his favorite part of the trip was the Garth Brooks concert, as was also a highlight of Miller and York. “I’m a huge Garth Brooks fan and this was probably one of the bigger and better concerts compared to years past,” Comes said.

Along with the concert, members also attended sessions at the convention. Each session was different, with speakers, contests, introductions of new national officers and more. To begin the week was motivational youth speaker Kyle Scheele, who “brought some energy to the session.” To cap off the trip, the final session featured President Donald Trump speaking with the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue.

Comes said that joining FFA has given him a “direction,” and showed him what he wanted to do when he got older. He promotes FFA as a way for students who are unsure about their future after high school to have a chance at experiencing possible options. There are many different contests to be involved in and “it’s the best organization students can be involved in.” York encourages students to “definitely just give it a shot.” Even as a “city kid,” FFA has given her many opportunities and can do the same for others, such as public speaking and leadership skills.

“I hope everyone will join FFA and try to do something like this,” Miller said. “It’s a once in a lifetime experience and I think this is really valuable.”