National FFA President Brian Walsh: FFA Members Have a Story to Tell

By Abbey Nickel

Of all the stories FFA members heard during the 87th National FFA Convention & Expo, 2013-2014 National FFA President Brian Walsh reminded them during his retiring address of what he believes is the most important story of all: Their own story.

Walsh told the crowd that because he didn’t believe he had an extraordinary story to tell, he couldn’t be a success or an inspiration to others – but he realized that your story doesn’t have to be unusual in order to be a success.

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Four Past National Officers Launch Matching Scholarship Challenge

By Michael Lotspeich

LOUISVILLE – “Out of the millions [of FFA members], only 522 have had the opportunity to serve as a National FFA Officer,” expressed Rick Malir, 1985-86 national FFA president, on Friday evening at the Past National FFA Officer Reception hosted by the National FFA Foundation. Continue reading

RFD-TV Provides New Opportunities to Engage FFA Members

By Michael Lotspeich

LOUISVILLE – This year, RFD-TV is providing unprecedented live coverage of the 87th National FFA Convention & Expo. “We’ve been involved [with the convention] for 25 years and have broadcast the event for the last 14 years,” said RFD-TV President Patrick Gottsch.

These 30 full hours of live, gavel-to-gavel coverage follow a significant milestone in the National FFA Organization. Continue reading

Catch a major league game, raise support and awareness of FFA this summer

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We have a cool campaign that launched Monday to raise awareness of FFA from the nation’s capital to Washington state this summer.

Eight Major League Baseball teams – the Seattle Mariners, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals – will host FFA Day at the Ballpark games this summer. Continue reading

Kentucky couple’s generosity to give gift of blue for years to come

To kick off 2014 National FFA Week, Kentucky businessman Don Ball shares details about a new $500,000 endowment that he and wife Mira recently established for the National FFA Organization with National FFA officers Mitch Baker of Tennessee (left) and Steven Brockshus of Iowa at Ball’s home in Lexington, Ky.

To kick off 2014 National FFA Week, Kentucky businessman Don Ball shares details about a new $500,000 endowment that he and wife Mira recently established for the National FFA Organization with National FFA officers Mitch Baker of Tennessee (left) and Steven Brockshus of Iowa at Ball’s home in Lexington, Ky.
(Photo by Wales Hunter/National FFA Organization)

Thanks to the generosity of a philanthropy-focused Kentucky couple, deserving FFA members will be getting a gift of blue for years to come.

Don and Mira Ball, who co-founded Lexington, Ky.-based custom home-building company Ball Homes more than 50 years ago, kicked off 2014 National FFA Week by inviting some National FFA and Kentucky FFA officers to their home and share details about an endowment they created to support the National FFA Organization’s Give the Gift of Blue campaign. Continue reading

Get Back Up: Josh Sundquist Tells FFA Members to Buck Adversity

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By Caroline Weihl, National FFA Convention & Expo Newsroom Reporter

Life is tough. Overcoming adversity in tough times is a life-long practice that challenges many. We often give up. But when an amputee shares how he is able to get up after consecutive falls, does that change our perspective?

Josh Sundquist shared his personal struggles and the comical ways he’s overcome adversity at the seventh general session of the 86th National FFA Convention & Expo in Louisville.

Beginning his presentation running around the stage and sharing many jocular comments, Sundquist engaged the audience with his embarrassing experiences with one leg. He shared his experience of receiving his cancer diagnosis and losing reach of his dream to play on a travel soccer team.

“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,” Sundquist said to a captivated audience.

Even in his moments of defeat, Sundquist saw the positives and pursued them. He set his sights on a new goal, to be a ski racer. With hard work and perseverance, he qualified and skied on the U.S. Paralympic Ski Team. His message to the FFA audience: stay motivated to overcome obstacles and see the opportunities ahead.

“Among all human beings, adversity is universal. I know everyone in the audience has problems they are struggling with right now,” Sundquist said. “Sometimes the uniform we get in life is better than the one we thought we wanted.”

Sundquist was excited about the vibrant, young audience in Freedom Hall and concluded with a personalized, ukulele rendition of Tom’s Petty’s “Free Falling.”

“The question is not will you fall down,” Sundquist said. “It is how fast will you get back up?”

Caroline Weihl is a senior at The Ohio State University studying agricultural communications. Originally raised on a beef and grain farm in Bowling Green, Ohio, she is an alumna of Otsego FFA Chapter, a 2010 National FFA Band participant and 2011-12 state FFA officer. Find Caroline’s social media sites at about.me/CarolineWeihl.

FFA Launches Give Blue Program During FFA Jacket’s 80th Anniversary

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By Caroline Weihl, National FFA Convention & Expo Newsroom Reporter

The emblem of the National FFA Organization is a well-known symbol inclusive of the values in the organization. This logo is famous from its most prominent location on the back of the official FFA jacket.

This year celebrates 80 years since the adoption of the jacket. With references during general sessions and in various displays, everyone is proud of the unique blue corduroy. The jacket is an iconic part of the FFA and many members cherish the chance to proudly wear that blue corduroy. However, some students don’t have the chance to own and wear a personalized jacket. Continue reading

FFA in Costa Rica: Days 5-7

The Costa Rica Proficiency and Stars Travel Seminar empowers FFA leaders by providing them with a global perspective. Through this experience, participants from across the country gain knowledge by visiting farms and agribusinesses. Participants eligible include all American Star Award finalists and one national finalist from each proficiency area. The 2013 experience takes attendees throughout Costa Rica from June 12-20. Each day, different participants report back home with a blog post about their experiences.

Day Five

The FFA members in Costa Rica continue to enjoy themselves on this amazing excursion and seminar to one of the world’s most beautiful countries. If you didn’t read Days 1-4, make sure you do!

On Monday, after staying in the Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Hotel in San Ramon, the group traveled to Quepos via motor coach. The half-day journey took them along the Pacific coast and through a stop at the African palm fields in Palma Tica. Upon arrival in Quepos, the FFA members checked into their scenic hotel perched high above the Pacfiic coast line.

This morning we traveled throughout the beautiful country of Costa Rica from the Alejuela province to the Pacific Coast. Immediately we noticed the drastic increase in both temperature and humidity. We traveled from the pleasant climate of the cloud forest to the humid, hot climate of the lower levels of Costa Rica.

Along our journey we stopped for ice cream and souvenirs and had lunch while watching crocodiles from a nearby bridge. The river with the crocodiles is a world renowned river protected by the Costa Rican government.

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FFA Fill In 6/12/13: State Conventions, LTS Grant Deadline & More

Welcome to the very first edition of the FFA Fill In! The plan says this will become a regular and weekly post on the National FFA Organization Blog that accomplishes several goals. We hope to make this is a solid, reliable source for FFA news, FFA program deadlines, cool stories from the 7,498 FFA chapters nationwide, interesting notes and news about agriculture everywhere and anything else deemed fit! Most importantly, we’re going to take a laid back, easy-going approach to this and have some fun along the way. You’ll even have a chance to win some cool things along the way!

We hope you’ll join us each week as we get this ironed out, and maybe share it with a friend or two. Hopefully, it’ll be a great way for anyone tied to FFA and agriculture education to keep up with our fun national blue and corn gold world. Thanks for reading!

Conventions, conventions, conventions!

Boy, what a week it’s been for FFA in several states! The state convention season is starting to wind down, but it’s not going away with a whimper. This week Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Wisconsin all hosted their annual state gatherings featuring state finals in career development events, tremendous leadership workshops, delegate sessions, awesome keynote speakers and—in Wisconsin—one confetti-loving owl.

The National FFA Officer Team made it to each state hosting a convention this week. The lineup: Continue reading