The 88th National FFA Convention was held in Louisville KY from Oct. 28-31st. This was the last year that the convention was scheduled to be held in Louisville. Mt. Everett FFA brought 9 chapter members, their advisor, Danielle Melino, and another teacher, Dallas Jones. Current FFA enrollment is 630,000 members and 65,173 members attended the convention. This number doesn’t count advisors, chaperons and expo exhibitors. Everywhere you looked you saw FFA members proudly wearing their uniform of blue corduroy. Many members make it a goal to meet someone from every state while they’re at convention.
More than 500 exhibitors representing agriculture companies, colleges, non-profits, and U.S. Armed Services packed the Kentucky Exposition Center for the National FFA Career Expo. Mt. Everett students discovered numerous agricultural careers and explored opportunities in post secondary education and job training. Our students talked with representatives from Busch Gardens and Sea world, John Deere, Carhart, Tractor Supply Company, CSX, Monsanto, American Veterinary Medical Association, Case, Dupont, Syngenta, STIHL, Caterpillar, Merck Animal Health, USDA, Continental Kennel Club, Merrick Animal Nutrition, and Purina. Our students talked with professors, admissions counselors and students from colleges across the country.
Our chapter advisor, Danielle Melino, gathered new materials and ideas for the classroom and chapter.
On Wednesday we attended the first opening session where we heard from the National FFA officers and staff, motivational speaker Rick Risby, and learned how our chapter members can “amplify” their life and made an impact. We also attended the FFA members only Jake Owen concert that night where we sang along with thousands of other FFA members.
Thursday was spent at the Convention hall where students and teachers toured the career expo and attended a variety of workshops. Students attended workshops that focused on careers in the equine industry and veterinary medicine. Advisor Danielle Melino attended workshops based on advocacy for agriculture education programs, agriculture industry issues, and prepping students for a wide variety of agriculture careers. We attended the ‘World’s Toughest Rodeo’ that evening and even got to meet the riders afterwards.
Friday morning started with a backstretch breakfast tour of Churchill Downs (where the Kentucky Derby is run) where we got to eat a yummy breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and sausage while watching hundreds of Thoroughbreds exercise. Our amazing tour guide, Becky, told us that Churchhill Downs has stables to house 1,400 horses and identified trainers and riders as they passed us. Becky even showed us pictures of herself with American Pharoah while he was stabled there. After our breakfast we went on a guided walking tour of Churchill Downs and got to meet a stallion named Twinspired. The rest of Friday afternoon was spent at the Convention and our evening was spent at the FFA dance with 2,000 new friends.
Saturday morning was kicked off with a trip to Waffle House for some southern hospitality and cooking. We then went to the FFA shopping mall to make some last minute souvenir purchases before attending the final closing session. This is Mrs. Melino’s favorite session because the National FFA president gives his farewell speech, the previous years National Officer Team is retired, and the new National Officer Team is elected. Career Development Event winners are also announced at this session and we get to cheer for students from across the country. All sessions have the feel of being at a rock concert with laser light shows, great music, and giant screens with videos and pictures from the convention.
This trip included many firsts for our students as some had never traveled out of New England or attended a concert or rodeo. All students had the chance to explore careers, meet fellow FFA members from across the country, learn valuable networking skills, try new things, and gained a deeper understanding of the FFA organizations history and purpose.
Thank you to our sponsors who helped make this trip affordable for our students!!
Berkshire Taconic Foundation and Janey Fund Charitable Trust.