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  National Convention Reflections
By:
Friday, November 15, 2013
     

National Convention as seen by your State Officers

 

Taylor McNeel, State President  

 The take away from National Convention:  fuel passion, spark action, and ignite FFA!  This motto became second nature to the 62,998 FFA members, advisors, and guests that flooded Louisville, Kentucky the last week in October for the 86th National FFA Convention and Expo.  Throughout a jam packed week members competed in numerous events, attended nine general sessions, shopped for all the latest gear, met with the top companies and leaders of the agricultural industry, visited with FFA members from across the country, and watched some awesome shows and concerts.  That summarizes very quickly what happened in Louisville!  While walking around the expo and convention we, the State Officers, saw many familiar faces wherever we went.  It was cool to see how many jackets had Arkansas stitched across the back.  Attending Convention takes time and dedication from fundraising to making up missed school work.  We are proud of those that made the decision to attend.  In the competition area, Arkansas was very well represented!  Chapters and individuals across Arkansas prepared all summer and fall to make an appearance on the National Level.  From Arkansas we had amazing representation and placed very well.  As many of you know, this year we had a dedicated, FFA loving, and enthusiastic National FFA Officer Candidate, Victoria Maloch.  With forty-two candidates bidding for six National FFA Officer positions, there was a lot of anxiety of who would make up the new team.  Seeing Victoria’s work preparing for Convention and her passion for this organization had the whole state rooting her on.  Victoria represented Arkansas well and we know she will be successful with her next endeavor.

 

Megan McMahen, Southern Vice President

 When most people think about the Career Show, they think about all of the amazing free stuff! Sunglasses, cups, bags, door prizes, and much more can be found in this awesome place called the Career Show. Now, who are the awesome people that give away all this free stuff? Companies, colleges, and sponsors that help the National FFA Organization out by being present at our annual National FFA Convention and Expo. Let me tell you what is more important and valuable than some of that free stuff—knowledge. Information can be key to us, right? Well during the Career Show, colleges have a chance to tell you about their programs. Recruiting for colleges is serious business and picking the perfect college is life changing for students. Companies can help you find that dream job and network to find your future career. You can even learn more about agriculture in other states. This is a place to meet new friends, have fun, and learn about your infinite opportunities that lie before you in the Career Show.

 

Caleigh Sue Moyer, State Reporter

 Louisville Fun!

The sea of blue jackets united members from across the country at the Kentucky Exposition Center for the 86th National FFA Convention and Expo. The words “Ignite FFA” were continuously chanted by thousands of FFA members throughout the week of convention. Members attended general sessions, workshops, CDE Competitions, the Career Show, and had the opportunity to see some of the best entertainers across the country! On Wednesday night, country music artists Jana Kramer and Dierks Bentley were able to bring a new meaning to the week’s theme as they “ignited” the crowd of 16,000 members and guests through some of their number one hits. In FFA we often talk about influence, and the impact others make on ourselves. Hypnotists Dr. Al Snyder and Dr. John Wand “ignited influence” as they influenced the minds of the volunteer participants in their own unique way. The hilarious acts of the participants kept the audience laughing and on their toes! Every night throughout the week Express Ranches and Red Brand sponsored the “World’s Toughest Rodeo”. At this event bareback, saddle bronc, and bull riders “ignited passion” for their exhilarating sports as they raced the clock on some of the most dangerous beasts.  Whether it be igniting enthusiasm, influence, or passion the entertainers throughout the week of the National FFA Convention and Expo have all made the effort to ignite something that makes an impact on others. My challenge for you is to find something you can ignite within your own talents and use them to make an impact as well. What will you IGNITE?

 

Lindsey Triplett, Northwest Vice President

 My favorite part of the National FFA Convention has always been and will forever be, the sessions! Jam-packed with laser shows, interesting acts like painters, loud music, thousands of blue jackets, awards, and inspirational messages: they’re always what I look forward to the most. This year was no exception, especially as I listened in awe as the 2012-2013 national officer team delivered their retiring addresses. One that stood out to me the most had to have been Joenelle Futrell’s titled “Let it Shine”. In this retiring address, she reminded us of the impact we can have on others by being a part of this organization. By being genuine and caring for others, every single one of us can have a tremendous influence on other people. We can let our light shine through community service, our passion for agriculture, or even just sharing a smile with someone who needs it.  Our organization is so great because no matter where a student is from, we allow them the opportunity to let their light shine. Whether it’s the trumpet player for the band or the quarterback on the football team, whether it’s someone who grew up on a farm, or in the city; no matter what society has labeled them – they all can, and do, wear the blue, corduroy jacket. As FFA members, we should let our light shine daily and impact those around us.

 Another very important speaker at one of the sessions was Josh Sundquist. Josh is an amputee who lost his leg due to cancer, but was still full of more joy and happiness than most people you run into on a day-to-day basis. He was full of laughs and interesting stories as he raced across stage on one leg using his crutches and told about the time he snuck a two-litter bottle of coke in a movie theatre in the leg of a pair of pants. Despite the roar of laughter he caused, Josh spoke of getting back up no matter how tough situations seem. “When it feels like everything in your life is falling down around you, the best you can hope for is the strength to stand and have the courage to walk.” As he spoke these words, Josh reminded each of us how to be courageous and take on life with everything we have.

 After convention, I found an article of a man who probably loved the sessions even more than I did. His name is Rick McNary, and he wrote a blog titled “Meet 56,000 of my New Heroes: Future Farmers of America (FFA)”.  I was overwhelmed with pride as I read of how impressed he was with our organization. He spoke of the work ethic and determination exhibited by our members and how the future of America is in good hands because of people like our members. He even went so far as to say that, “That blue jacket is more powerful than Dorothy’s red shoes”.

 As you enjoy your time in FFA, I encourage each of you to realize the impact you have on the world around you. Let your light shine daily and do not get discouraged when hard times come your way. Never underestimate the power you have as an individual to ignite an influence on others because, “the fires that burn the brightest, the fires that always emit the most heat – always burn BLUE.”

 

Sunni Wise, State Secretary

 The delegate process is such an honor to be a part of. If you think about it, Arkansas has 11 delegates coming together with the other 450 delegates from all over the 50 states plus Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, that is absolutely amazing. We hit the ground running on Sunday with Delegate Meetings. While in there we were reviewed over a few issues within the delegate process. On Monday morning we were dismissed into our delegate groups. There were about 75 delegates on each committee. I was on the committee of Agriculture Education as a Career. While on my committee, just like in the other committees, we came up with “where as” and “be it resolved” statements to help guide the National FFA Board when making decisions in the years to come within the organization.

     It is absolutely amazing to think that we as a delegate committee can make changes that could potentially echo through-out our organization just as some have in the past such as in 1969 when women were allowed into the FFA. I hope that we as delegates during the 86th National Convention have made just as great of an impact as the delegates before us.

Mason Strayhorn, Eastern District Vice President

One of the most beautiful things about National Convention is the chance to connect with people from all across the country, and from all walks of life. Having said that, with the diversity within the convention comes the many reasons as to why each member is in attendance. This year I not only had the honor of serving as a delegate, but I also had the privilege of representing Arkansas in the extemporaneous speaking contest. Being in this position was somewhat bittersweet. I was so happy and humbled by the chance to go and compete at the national level, which has always been my dream as an FFA member! That being said, I also knew that this would be the last time that I competed in a contest that has taught me so much and is so dear to me. As it got closer and closer to competition time I realized something very important: it's not always about winning. We should always shoot for excellence but sometimes the skills and talents that we learn can help us serve our communities and our world better than a 1st place accomplishment. Although I did not win the extemporaneous contest, I am very fortunate to have made it to the top 16 in the country. This contest has affected me in a positive way and has taught me how to take pride in myself and my abilities. I wish each of you the best of luck in all of your respected contests and I look forward to seeing each of you achieve your goals this year!

 


 
 
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