National FFA Convention & Expo
By Austin Vieselmeyer
The 2012 National FFA Convention & Expo was held in Indianapolis, Indiana. Holyoke FFA members, Kody Timm, Stephanie Razo, Josilyn Lutze, and myself, along with Chapter Advisor Mr. Kuntz, took the opportunity to go to this prestigious event. Something that is really cool was how many people were registered to go to the Convention; 56,400 people were registered to attend this event.
The highlight of the event, for me, was watching the creed speaking finalists give the FFA Creed in hopes of winning the National Creed Speaking Contest. It gave me the opportunity to listen to the four students who gave the creed the best. This also gave me the chance to learn from them and prepare myself for our own chapter Creed Speaking Contest, the 29th of November.
There were nine general sessions conducted by the National FFA Officers in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. That is where the Indianapolis Pacers basketball team plays. Those sessions were impressive and exciting. The National Officers had presentations of sponsors, award presentations, some business and their farewell speeches. There were also keynote speakers at four of the nine general sessions, they were all very impressive and motivational, but all had a different story that captured the audience in a certain way each time.
Our trip to Indianapolis was a very long bus ride. We left Holyoke in a charter bus at 8:00 a.m. and arrived in Grand Island, NE several hours later for our first tour. There we toured the Case Combine Factory for two hours. There the workers can manufacture at the most 29 combines a day!
Our next stop was in Des Moines, IO, for a tour on Tuesday morning. That morning we visited the Iowa Science Center and also watched a movie in an I-Max theater.
We left Des Moines shortly after and headed for Chicago. We arrived late that night but still got to eat supper at the Navy Pier. Wednesday morning we got up early and went to tour the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Center. We got there a little too early and had plenty of time to walk downtown to see the Sears Tower. After the short tour of the Mercantile we finally headed toward Indianapolis.
We then arrived in Indianapolis at 4:00 p.m. later that night the second opening session was at 8. There are three opening sessions because of how many people are attending the convention.
At the convention there is the Career show. The career show is mostly made up of major ag businesses that have a small to large booth, and there are a few of the bigger colleges were there, for instance: UNL, OSU, CSU and quite a few others. At the career show FFA members can walk around and visit the booths about anytime they want and also interact with the people running the booths.
When you go to National Convention you can’t forget to bring souvenirs or merchandise home. So there is the Trade Show where you go to buy all sorts of FFA clothing and tokens to show your family and friends. Also they had a small John Deere and Case stores where they sold shirts, caps, and even some model tractors.
Finally, the ninth and final session; this was one of the highlights of the trip also, the coolest thing about this session was we saw the new 2012-2013 National FFA Officers be elected and go through the installation ceremony. Shorty after we headed home on a 16 hour bus ride and got back into Holyoke about 9 Sunday morning.
I had such a blast going to the National FFA Convention & Expo, I encourage all who are willing to join FFA and devote time and effort to help grow FFA, to join and have the opportunity to go to such a prestigious event.