FFA members travel to Indianapolis for 92nd National FFA Convention & Expo

What would FFA be if there were not fun road trips to go on with fellow members? Going on road trips to places with other members is always a fun experience! Ten members of the Garden Spot FFA started to get excited the week of October 27th because they had a big road trip coming up. They were heading to the National FFA Convention and Expo!

On October 27th Danae Ranck, Bryce Johnson, Gracie Hess, Tyler Stoltzfus, Jessica Herr, Jackson Price, Gwenn Spotts, Jared Risser and Stephanie Mays, gathered at Lampeter-Strasburg, packed up the vans and we were excited to get on the road to head to the National FFA Convention. We had a three and a half-hour drive before our first stop at a beautiful Ohiopyle State Park, where we took a hike and got to see the amazing Cucumber Waterfalls.

The Agricultural Issues Forum Team with Sponsors. 
L to R: Elanco Sponsor, Mrs. McMichael, Advisor, Bryce Johson, Jackson Price, Jessica Herr, Danae Ranck, Jeslyn Krebs, Gracie Hess, Syngenta Sponsor 
Our final stop for the day was at Duma Meats. After a great night of shut-eye, we were up early to get our next day started with a tour at Duma Meats. We got to see how they ran their meat processing facility and farm. After our departure from Duma Meats we had two more stops for the day. Our first stop was at Malabar Farm, which is a Historic landmark in Ohio, we walked around to look at the house on the farm and to see what the rest of the property looked like and also went to a lookout called Mount Jeez Overlook where you could see beautiful landscapes for miles. 

Our second stop for the day was at the Granville Milling Company. We went on a tour to see how everything ran and got to learn how their business came to be. They help out local 4-H and FFA members with their animals through feed sales and nutrition advice. After the tour, we headed to a campsite for the night to get some rest and we had a wonderful campfire and also ended the night with some line dancing. 

The next day we had another early morning so that we could head to Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. Churchill Downs is where the Kentucky Derby is held. We got to see the race track and also got to learn about various famous horses. We also had the opportunity to tour Apache Sprayer Plant where we got to learn what all goes into making one of their sprayers and how newer technology will help farmers with their crop production.

The 92nd National FFA Convention opened on Wednesday, October 30th, FFA members attended the first general session in the Lucas Oil Stadium, where it was shared that there were 65,200 members and guests in attendance. We heard from keynote speaker and New York Times Bestseller, Bob Goff. He shared on growing faith, leadership, love, and authenticity. Mr. Goff encouraged the members to understand the love means sacrifice and commitment. His speech was very inspiring. After the session, we headed to dinner before the Old Dominion concert. The concert was phenomenal. Old Dominion did such a great job and it was incredible to see so many people singing right back to them.

The Agricultural Issues Forum team competed on Wednesday. The Agricultural Issues Forum Leadership Development Event is a competitive event that tests student's knowledge of agricultural issues and evaluate how well they can apply classroom knowledge to real-life situations. This team was made up of Danae Ranck (12), Gracie Hess (12), Jessica Herr (12), Jeslyn Krebs (11), Bryce Johnson (11) and Jackson Price (10). The teams 15-minute presentation was titled “Is the flow of international trade from the United States changing agriculture in a positive direction?” The presentation highlighted multiple viewpoints related to the issue and its impact on our community, state and nation. The team earned a national-ranking bronze metal, placing in the top 25 teams in the nation! The team collectively invested over 550 hours of time into preparing for this contest. They qualified for the national contest at the state contest in January. We are incredibly proud of their efforts!

On Thursday, four members participated in the 2019 National Day of Service where thousands of National FFA members served the local Indianapolis area through various organizations. Garden Spot FFA members assisted the Indiana Cultural Trail by cleaning up trash, pulling weeds and cutting back plants. Other members attended the Second General Session. We heard from National FFA Western Region Vice President, Shea Booster as he shared his retiring address. He challenged FFA members to move away from seeing themselves as the victim of their circumstances to the leader in their life. The session also recognized FFA chapters across the nation for various Program of Activity awards. After session and supper, we attended the “World’s Toughest Rodeo,” hosted by National FFA. At the rodeo we saw some amazing riding and also two trick riders who were extraordinary.

Garden Spot FFA Members tour the Apache Sprayer plant in Indiana. 
L to R: Bryce Johnson, Jared Risser, Jackson Price, Danae Ranck, Stephanie Mays, Jessica Herr, Gracie Hess, Jeslyn Krebs, Gwenn Spotts, Tyler Stoltzfus

On Friday, FFA members explored the National FFA Career Expo center. Here, hundreds of agricultural businesses, colleges and organizations interacted with and shared what they have to offer with FFA members. 

On Saturday, November 2nd, we celebrated the incredible accomplishments of fellow members who achieved their FFA American Degree. The FFA American Degree which is the highest FFA award a member can earn; only 0.5% of FFA members achieve this honor. To achieve this degree, FFA members must “earn at least $10,000 and productively invested $7,500 or earned and productively invested $2,000 and worked 2,250 hours into their Supervised Agricultural Experience projects.” Upon other requirements, achieving this degree clearly shows an FFA member’s dedication to his or her chapter and state FFA Association. Earning this degree from the Garden Spot FFA Chapter this year was Kyle Spotts (2018), Connor Ranck (2017), Sarah Hess (2015) and Megan Mellinger (2018).

2019 Garden Spot FFA American Degree Recipients 
L to R Kyle Spotts (2018 Graduate), Conner Ranck (2017 Graduate)

Going on a road trip with people who make life fun will always adds up to an event you are going to remember that event for a long time. The trip to the 2019 National FFA Convention and Expo truly was a once in a lifetime opportunity, with the chance to meet tons of other members from all different states.

--By Stephanie Mays, Garden Spot FFA reporter

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