Garden Spot FFA takes on the 94th Annual National Convention

Six members - Gracie Albright, Katie Ranck, Melanie Cox, Rachael Lee, Owen Risser, and Jackson Price, of the Lampeter-Strasburg's Garden Spot FFA represented the school in Indianapolis, Indiana for the 94th Annual National FFA Convention. Seven people, One van, and years of memories.

On Monday, the group started off their trip by adventuring to Ohiopyle State Park. There, the group drove through the woods to what we thought was the waterfall, but turned out to be an overlook. After driving more miles attempting to find waterfalls, we finally reached them! The waterfall led to a rapid that had beautiful scenery. It was a great start to our week-long trip. After the waterfalls, we drove to Butler, PA where Harvest View Farms is located. There, we met the owners, the Metricks, and toured their family-owned, farm market. One of their best features is their homegrown apples which they use to make their own apple cider. We were grateful for the opportunity to see how apple cider is made and for the opportunity to meet such a wonderful small business. From Butler, we drove to Ohio to visit Duma Meats. On Monday night, we visited Duma Deer. This is where they process a customer's deer and process it into all sorts of items such as meat sticks and deer jerky.

First thing Tuesday morning, we went to Duma Meats which included their market and their processing plant. Mr. Duma showed us all of their processing equipment and the butchering process. After we said our goodbyes from Duma Meats, We headed out to Summit Racing Equipment, Heini’s Cheese Chalet, Coblentz Chocolate, and the World's Largest Cuckoo Clock. These places were just fun little stops along the way. We then headed to Big Muskie. Big Muskie is an extremely large excavating bucket that can move 39 million pounds of material per hour. This bucket was huge! After Big Muskie, we went to our last stop of the day. The group had a fun yet tiring day and we all got some much-needed rest.

We left first thing the next morning for The Ark Encounter located in Williamstown, Kentucky. The Ark Encounter is a replica of the biblical Noah’s Ark. Did you know, the ark took 3.1 million board feet of timber to construct? It was an amazing experience to be able to see what the Ark was like. After the Ark, we left right away to Indiana! We attended the Opening Session of the 94th National Convention with the Keynote speaker “Fancy Lady Cowgirl” Courtenay DeHoff. She taught us to stay true to ourselves and don’t become someone we’re not. Later that night, we attended Cinch’s World’s Toughest Rodeo. We got to watch all the bull and bronc riding, and it was a great way to end the night.

On Thursday morning we had the wonderful opportunity to participate in a community service project. The Lord’s Pantry at Anna’s House is a non-profit organization that helps families in the community get food that they are not able to afford. We went along with Honesdale FFA located in the Northeastern Region of PA. We packed Halloween bags and snack bags for the kids. We also helped unload a full-packed truck to bring in more donated food. We are grateful to be able to serve the community no matter where help is needed. After lunch, we went to the Expo Center which had games, vendors, and ice cream! We went to dinner at Bucca Di Beppo, an Italian Restaurant, to enjoy a group dinner.

All-day Friday, we spent our time in the Expo Center and in the shopping mall. We got to play a fun little game of scavenger hunt to bring some giveaways back for the chapter like t-shirts, pins, pens, and so much more. We got the experience of talking to colleges we were interested in and learned more about them. In the evening, we went to Conner’s Kitchen for dinner to celebrate the American Degree Recipients Jessica Herr and Danae Ranck with their families.

Saturday, unfortunately, was our last day in Indianapolis. We packed up the van and headed to the Lucas Oil Stadium for one last session, the American Degree Ceremony. Garden Spot FFA is proud of our two American Degree Recipients. These ladies worked hard throughout their years as FFA members. After some group pictures, we said our final goodbyes to Indiana. We were packed and in the van homebound! We were fortunate enough to link up with Pequea Valley FFA so the drivers had a buddy driving the long way home.

Rachael, Gracie, Katie, Melanie, Jackson, and Owen are grateful for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity such as this one. We learned so much on this trip, experienced the coolest adventures, and most important of all, grew as a group that we can now call friends!

By Melanie Cox, FFA Reporter

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