Garden Spot FFA travels to Indianapolis for National Convention

Bright and early Sunday morning, five Garden Spot FFA members boarded a school van with the ultimate destination of the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. After carefully packing the van, the five of us and Mrs. McMichael departed the high school to start our week long trip.
Picture 1: National Corvette Museum, Bowling Greens, Kentucky: Kyle Spotts, Jordan Martin, Leah Welk, Megan Mellinger, Hadassah Hoover (L to R)
Sunday we spent in Virginia and West Virginia. Our first stop was at the Carter Mountain Orchard in Virginia after a memorable ride up the mountain on a very narrow road. We picked a few apples and purchased some apple cider slushies’ then loaded up the van to continue on our trip. Sunday afternoon consisted of “bump city central” and grabbing lunch at Hardee’s. We stopped at the Beckley Coal Mine in West Virginia to learn more about how the mines used to be. We also were able to take a tour of the mine and play some trivia with our tour guide, Steve. We arrived at our cabins in Fayetteville, West Virginia meeting some of the locals who gave tips on how to get our fire going. We all hit the hay early after a long day of driving and looked forward to the next day.

Picture 2: Fair Oaks Farm, Fair Oaks Indiana: Megan Mellinger, Kyle Spotts, Jordan Martin, Leah Welk, Hadassah Hoover,
Monday morning came bright and early with the guys waking everyone up before dawn. We were on the road by 5:30am and headed to the National Corvette Museum. As we walked through the museum, we learned all about the history of Corvettes and the huge sinkhole that collapsed in the skydome part of the museum in 2014. We ate lunch in the retro Corvette Museum and then made our way to our cabin. On the way we stopped at a restaurant called Culver’s, who are big supporters of the FFA, for some ice cream. We made it to our KOA campsite to stay in our “deluxe” cabin. It was cold and rainy so we made some grilled cheese and tomato soup and went to bed earlier because the next day we were heading to Indy!

Tuesday morning we were up bright and early again to visit Fair Oaks Farms in Fair Oaks, Indiana. It was chilly and wet but we made our way through Indy to the Fair Oaks. We got a tour of the pigs first. The barn that they took us through revealed a huge operation of sows, baby piglets, and feeder pigs. We even got to see a few sows farrow! The tour then took us through their dairy operation. We rode on a tour bus to ensure biosecurity and to keep any diseases away. The cows were kept in a large free stall barn and milked on a carousel three times a day. We also stopped in a barn where you could watch a calf be born. We ate a nice lunch in their “Cowfe” and got out of the rain for a little while. Then it was back on the road to Indy again, but not before we had a photo shoot at the sign.

American Degree Ceremony: Rebecca Brian, Mark Mellinger, Matt Harnish, Benjamin Welk, Donovan Weaver (Top, L to R), Hadassah Hoover, Kyle Spotts, Jordan Martin, Leah Welk (Bottom L to R)
Once back in Indy, we checked into our hotel and managed to get all our bags up without too much trouble. We unpacked, did some homework, and chilled until dinner time. We ate a Squealer’s BBQ and enjoyed their variety of sauces and meats, especially Jordan.

After sleeping in on Wednesday, we headed to the convention hall and expo. center. We walked around talking to different colleges and companies and learning a lot about the Ag community, not to mention the bags of free stuff we collected. Later in the afternoon we headed over to the first session of the 90th National FFA convention! We got to see the National officers, special guests, the fun theme song, and the keynote speaker, Laila Ali. Afterwards, we ate a delicious dinner at Champps and then walked to our next stop, the Lucas Oil Stadium. At the stadium was a concert by Rascal Flatts, opened by Runaway June. After a long day, we ended up at our hotel again, ready for some sleep.

National FFA Day of Service, Indianapolis City Market: Leah Welk, Kyle Spotts, Jordan Martin, Hadassah Hoover (L to R)
Thursday was another early morning as we head over to Victory Baseball Field to check in for National Day of Service. We met up with the other chapters in the group from Missouri and Illinois and then headed to the Indianapolis City Market. There we cleaned up the outside area where people can sit and play bocci ball on their courts they have. Our chapter mostly weeded the raised beds they had and trimmed a lot of the ground covers. We also picked up a lot of cigarette butts and trash, but you could definitely see the cleanliness when we were done. Towards the end, the other groups were painting these large steps and they asked us to do one. So we painted it L-S school colors and put our chapter name and state. It was a lot of fun to get to know other chapters and make an impact on that small part of the community. We did not have time to go to the Expo Hall and Shopping Mall that day, so we went to get changed into our official dress and headed on over to the Banker’s Life Field for the second general session. At this session, we heard the amazing theme song once again, and at this session it was all about the National Chapter awards, and what chapters around the country to make an impact and involve their community in agriculture. We also heard a really good retiring address from one of the National Officers, and all about her year in office and what she has learned. After session, we went back to the van and headed to Steak N’ Shake with Penn Manor’s FFA Chapter before heading to the rodeo. At the World’s Toughest Rodeo at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, it was loads of fun seeing the bucking broncos and bull. But the best part of it was the clown, who had some pretty sick dance moves.

2nd General Session, National FFA Convention, Bankers Life Fieldhouse: Garden Spot FFA Members (LSHS) Manor FFA Members (Penn Manor High School), Mrs. Janae McMichael Garden Spot FFA Advisor, Ms. Meagan Slates Manor FFA Advisor
Friday we walked around the expo Hall and FFA Mall. Friday night we ate dinner with with all the American Degree recipients and their families. Saturday morning we loaded up all of our stuff and headed to the Lucas Oil Stadium to see the American Degrees being awarded. Ben Welk (2015 Graduate), Donovan Weaver (2016 Graduate), Becca Brian (2015 Graduate), Matt Harnish (2016 Graduate), and Mark Mellinger (2016 Graduate) all received their degrees. We then made the nine hour drive back to the high school and arrived back at 9PM. Overall, the trip was a great experience and a lot of fun!

By Garden Spot FFA Members: Hadassah Hoover, Jordan Martin, Megan Mellinger, Kyle Spotts and Leah Welk

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