By Caroline Weihl, National FFA Convention & Expo Newsroom Intern
It is said you gain the most when you embrace an experience. One experience this week in Louisville included mingling over dinners with other state associations, engaging in leadership training and serving on committees to discuss pertinent proposals in the National FFA Organization. Who participates in these fun, energizing activities you might ask? Delegates, during the national convention and expo.
The 86th National FFA Convention & Expo welcomed 460 delegates from around the United States to serve in leadership roles focused on discussing and developing FFA proposals. The delegates arrived in Louisville on Tuesday of convention and expo week and began various activities.
The largest responsibility of a national convention delegate is to serve on one of six proposal committees and create a proposal. Each committee is created months prior to the convention and expo, and the delegates begin researching their prospective topics. This year’s topics included:
- Image and Branding
- Agricultural Education as a Career
- Integration of Agriculture Industry
- Role of FFA in Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources
- Enhancing SAE involvement
- Agricultural Literacy
The committees develop proposals independently. Then, they collaborate with the entire delegate body to discuss and finalize them. Delegate chairpersons present decisions to the convention body on Saturday.
Tommy Justinson, a section president in the Illinois FFA Association, is a first-time delegate after attending the convention and expo six years previously. He was surprised by the level of involvement delegates have at the convention and expo.
“We all stay in the same hotel and during down time outside of proposal hearings, we mingle with different states,” Justinson said. “It is an entirely different part of convention that people can see. The process gives members new opportunities to voice their opinions for the betterment of the organization.”
In addition to committee work, the delegates participate in fun workshops and enjoy time together on the delegate floor. Kelsey Jones, a past state secretary in the California FFA Association, has attended the convention and expo and served in a delegate role the past three years. She has seen the program develop, and that it is an invaluable experience.
“I have noticed more innovation of FFA members through the experience,” Jones said. “Besides the work we put in, we have a lot of fun, too! Everyone on the delegate floor is so energized and happy to be here.”
Caroline Weihl is a senior at The Ohio State University studying agricultural communication. Originally growing up 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.