By Abbey Nickel, newsroom and media relations intern
The words “Ignite FFA” have been falling on the eager ears of thousands of FFA members this week. On Wednesday night they were able to experience the theme from a slightly different perspective in the KFC Yum! Center as country singer Dierks Bentley ignited the sold-out crowd of 16,000 cheering FFA members through a packed set list of number one hits.
While he doesn’t have any direct ties to FFA, Bentley stated that he has witnessed the organization’s impact on today’s youth.
“Having to tend to something, whether it be crops or animals or whatnot, it makes you better people. It gives these kids responsibility, teaches them skills they’ll be using the rest of their lives. It’s really important for our youth. The intangible things you learn from doing that kind of hands on work, you just can’t find it anywhere else,” said Bentley.
Bentley’s upcoming album titled “Riser” will be released later this fall, and according to Bentley, the album speaks about some of life’s most defining moments.
“A lot of FFA kids are at an age and are at the time in their life where they’re facing social situations, financial situations and all sorts of other stuff. Music has always been a huge outlet for me, country music especially, and hopefully my songs help somebody else through some tough time,” said Bentley.
Bentley emphasized that being open is essential to getting through both the highs and the lows in life – especially during your teenage years.
“I’ve done a lot of living and learned a lot, but I still have so much to learn. I think the key to anything is just being open to learning and listening and having an open heart and trying to see where that leads you as opposed to closing things off,” he said.
Bentley started his career at the age of 17 by performing in small venues. He encourages FFA members to never lose sight of their goals as they’re working their way up the ladder, both in life and in their careers.
“Persistence and determination and working hard toward your goals, your dreams, and not giving up and not being afraid to do work that other people think is beneath them will take you far,” he said.
Bentley hopes that that the show had an impact on his young audience.
“I hope these kids, all 16,000 of them, walk away with a big smile on their face,” he said. “As any good live show can do, it helps you transcend the moment for a little while and it kind of clears up your way of thinking and you walk away feeling inspired to go do something. That’s my hope for these kids. Maybe it’s pursuing their own dreams, goals or just working through some issues – but my hope is that they walk out feeling inspired. That’s always my goal at my shows.”
Abbey Nickel is a junior studying journalism at the University of Findlay. This year, she’s reporting on the convention and expo as part of the National FFA Convention & Expo Newsroom Crew.