FFA National Convention; Students travel to Indianapolis

Anna Fitzhugh , Reporter/ business manager

FFA National Convention is held annually in Indianapolis, Indiana from October 24th to October 27th. Students from across the United States join together to compete in Career Development Events (CDE’s), and Leadership Development Events (LDE’s), or, go just for the experience.
North Harford students Samantha Hardeman, Tabitha Sefa, Lynne Thomas, Mike Reeves, Meghan Bundhick, Caitlyn Wolfe, Diana Woosley, Emily Boling, and Shanyn Wolfe, all flew to Indianapolis for National Convention this October.
Flying across country may seem intimidating, especially if it’s the first time, as it was for Juniors Emily Bolig and Caitlyn Wolfe, and sophomore, Shanyn Wolfe. “It was the first time I’ve ever been on a plane, and it was terrifying,” said Bolig, but “the teachers made it seem like flying wasn’t a big deal, and were really nonchalant about it.” Caitlyn also remarked, “It was scary because it was my first time flying. But the teachers just kind’ve laughed at me and made it seem like not a big deal.”
Traveling across country costs a significant amount of money,Erika Edwards
to fund-raise, Shanyn Wolfe went to every fundraiser including, “Raffle tickets for a hog raffle, selling pretzel rods, bake sales, a movie night, and car wash.” According to Wolfe, “Almost all the FFA events were to fundraise for National Convention. Boling says, “As long as you participate in FFA, you are eligible to go.” Boling went for the experience, and wanted to meet people from other states. Wolfe also jouryned to Indianapolis because she “wants to get every opportunity out of FFA [she] possible can.”
Apart from wanting to go for the experience, FFA members can also go to National Convention to compete in a CDE or LDE. Students from the North Harford FFA chapter, Samantha Hardeman, Tabitha Sefa, Diana Woosley, Lynne Thomas, and Mike Reeves went to National Convention to demonstrate their proficiency in Nursery/Landscape and Prepared Public Speaking. Thomas won first in state for her prepared public speech, “which qualified [her] for The Big E in Massachusetts, and National Convention.” Hardeman, Sefa, Woosley, and Reeves competed in Nursery/Landscape. Their team won first in the state, with Sefa coming in second in state, Reeves third, and Hardeman fifth.
The Nursery/Landscape CDE involves a multiple choice section as well as plant identification. Each member took a test individually, and worked together to show their combined knowledge. Prepping for the knowledge portion was no small task, the team “ stayed after school every single wednesday for an hour and a half, sometimes more,” Sefa explains. “Each plant has its own number, and we would randomly text one another asking what’s a number is, and they would have to go figure out that plant was!” Upon arriving to the competition, the team discovered, “The people we competed against said they studied everyday after school for two hours!” Despite not studying for quite as long as their fellow competitors, the team still took home bronze.
Thomas traveled to Indianapolis to compete in prepared public speaking. To memorize her entire speech, Thomas spent significant time “reading through the manuscript, and making changes, before it absolutely had to be submitted.” The hard work paid off, and Thomas won bronze, making her one of the top 50 speakers in the country.
Apart from the actual CDE and LDE competition, the Garth Brooks concert was one of the highlights of the trip.”Boling describes the crowd, “It was just a sea of students, I’ve never seen that many people our age in one place.” Thomas commented, “Brooks was feeding off the energy of all 40,000 people there.” Besides the concert, there was also a rodeo, and guest speakers with inspirational stories.
The National Convention also boasts bringing together FFA organizations from all states. Wolfe comments “It wasn’t just people from Maryland, it was people from Alaska, California, and Puerto Rico.” The highlight of the trip for Wolfe was “getting booklets in the beginning of the week, where in the back was a list of all the states and a place to get signatures.” Wolfe claims, “The booklet is probably my favorite thing I got there, I got almost all the signatures.” On the bus, the group met students from South Dakota, Minnesota, and Georgia. “They asked us if we knew what cactus dirt cake was, and we’d never heard of it,” Sefa explains. “It actually sounds really good, but who would’ve thought about it!”