By Sydney Snider, OCJ FFA reporter
The 91st National FFA Convention and Expo was a memorable experience for attendees across the country. Featuring a concert from Garth Brooks, countless student winners and a visit from President Trump, the convention was full of energy, passion and booming enthusiasm. The convention was held in Indianapolis from Oct. 24 to 27.
Blake Campbell is the adviser at Warren high school in Washington County.
For a first-year FFA adviser, Convention brought light to the “behind the scenes” work that advisers put in for Campbell.
“Convention was different in many ways as a teacher over a student,” Campbell said. “This time I was in charge of finding restaurants for dinner along with helping the bus navigate Indianapolis, which can be a challenge during convention. I was in charge of making sure we had all students at each stop we left — making sure to not leave anyone behind.”
The Warren FFA Chapter took 13 students to convention. Campbell was nervous, yet excited, about taking students to Convention for the first time. On the trip, he had to step in to a “dad” role for some of his students.
“This was my first trip with students and I wanted to make sure everything went smooth. A few students got sick while on the trip so I had to play dad and care for those who were sick,” Campbell said.
Despite caring for sick students, Campbell was grateful for the experience at National Convention.
“The most rewarding part about taking students to convention was on the ride home the students were talking about what all they learned during the sessions, career shows, and workshops,” he said. “It was great to hear them talk about bringing back the skills they learned to our chapter and community.”
Campbell previously attended Convention as a student and state FFA officer. From his new role as an FFA advisor, he said he realized how valuable convention is for students.
“Most of the students I took to Convention had never been on a trip like this. They were able to learn responsibility and care for themselves. The students had to budget money to spend on food and other items that wanted,” Campbell said.
While at convention, Campbell’s students attended the second general session and several leadership workshops.
“The sessions and workshops provided leadership and skills that they were able to bring back home. The career fair also showcased future college possibilities and workforce options,” he said.
Campbell and the Warren FFA Chapter are already excited to plan for next year’s Convention, especially the tasty places they’ll stop to eat.
“I like to find local and non chain restaurants to eat at during convention so that the students can experience something different,” Campbell said.
Much like Campbell, first-year convention attendee Halee Robinson also had an memorable time at the National FFA Convention and Expo. Robinson is a freshman FFA member at Alexander high school, located in Athens County.
“It was a place for meeting people from all over the U.S., making new friendships that will last a lifetime and creating memories,” Robinson said.
Unlike some freshman, Robinson wasn’t nervous about attending Convention. She said she was simply unsure what to expect. But she found great value in the sessions, speakers and the “inspirational environment.”
“The most rewarding part about the convention was getting the opportunity to experience the meaningful messages of a worldwide organization that so many students are part of,” Robinson said.
Robinson knows not every student gets the chance to attend convention and she’s thankful she had the chance to travel to Indianapolis.
“I was fortunate enough to have the chance to see what convention was all about,” Robinson said. “As a student, I feel that convention was valuable to me because it provided information that allowed me to develop social and communication skills.”
The 91st National FFA Convention and Expo theme, “Just One” resonated quite a bit with Robinson.
“My favorite part about being an FFA member is just one idea can make a difference in my community and yours,” she said. “It can further improve the image of agriculture in America and the public’s eye.”
Robinson didn’t hesitate to say she would encourage other students to attend Convention so they too can apply what they learn in their chapter and community.
The Ohio FFA Association was well represented by FFA members from across the state. To learn about convention results and plans for the 92nd National FFA Convention and Expo, visit convention.ffa.org.