by Clarke County Future Farmers of America
The excitement was high Tuesday morning Oct. 18th at 6:00am as 20 members of the Clarke County FFA and their advisors boarded a Clarke County School Bus for the 10 hour drive to the 84th National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. The members attending the National Convention had been working hard during the year to qualify for the trip and had raised money to help pay for expenses by working at the Steam Show, Selling a cake at the County Fair, and providing parking assistance at the BalloonFest. In addition, the Clarke County Farm Bureau generously donated $1000 towards the cost of the trip. The FFA group stopped at Cabela’s outdoor store in Wheeling, WV for a break and to eat lunch.
Arriving in Indianapolis, and weaving our way through the downtown streets under construction we found our way to the Embassy Suites Hotel. The FFA chapter stayed in downtown Indianapolis this year in order to be closer to the convention. Wednesday morning Mr. Cole and the Horse Judging Team traveled back to Columbus, Ohio to participate in the American Quarter Horse Congress Hippology Contest as the representative from Virginia. The remainder of the chapter delegation and Ms. Long completed registration for the convention and attended the career show during the afternoon. More than 300 diverse careers make up the industry of agriculture. The career show allows FFA members the opportunity to meet face-to-face with representatives of these companies and colleges.
Also included in the career show were the state winners in the Agriscience Competition. Participants in the Agriscience Competition conduct a research project, prepare a report, and state winners compete against FFA members from other states. Agriculture is consistently evolving, and many agriculture-related careers now require a vast amount of technical and scientific knowledge. Today it is more important than ever to earn a college degree or specific career training for your desired profession. For members, this is sometimes a complex and daunting decision to dive into. They not only have to choose the location of the college but also their overall career pathway. Luckily, the career show has 93 different colleges, universities and trade schools that are represented to help students make a more informed decision.
Clarke County FFA members attended the opening session of the National Convention Wednesday night and heard keynote speaker, Dave Roever. Dave Roever grew up in a loving, committed family in south Texas. The last thing on his mind was going to war. At the height of the Vietnam War, he received his draft notice. Having no desire to serve in the infantry, he joined the Navy and served as a river boat gunner in the elite Brown Water Black Beret in Vietnam. Eight months into his tour of duty in Vietnam, Roever was burned beyond recognition when a phosphorous grenade he was poised to throw exploded in his hand. The ordeal left him hospitalized for 14 months, where he underwent numerous major surgeries. His survival and life are miraculous. He established compassionate, ongoing mission work in Vietnam and is involved in other nations.
In every setting, Roever’s message is one of hope. Using his life as an example, he addresses issues relevant to his audience and presents concrete solutions to life’s problems. Often drawing upon his war experiences of loneliness, peer pressure, disfigurement and pain, as well as life’s triumphs, Roever weaves a message of courage, commitment and survival that touches and transforms those who hear him
Roever’s stories were inspiring, and at times heartbreaking, but FFA members were certainly laughing through the entire keynote speech. At one point Roever joked about getting a physical for the draft and his poor grades in college. He said, “I got an O positive on my blood test!” His humor and his drive to help others are proof-positive that he lives his life to the fullest and wants to help others do the same. “You know that little dash between the day you’re born and the day you die?” he said. “What do you want your dash to say?
Attending the 84th National FFA Convention wouldn’t be complete without visiting one of the 40 student workshops that are conducted by sponsors, former members and leaders in agriculture. At this year’s national convention, workshops were grouped into different leadership categories based on the national theme “I Believe.” Student workshops encourage students to develop their skills in premier leadership, personal growth and career success by learning from others who have succeeded in their personal careers. Workshops include presenters from major organizations such as the U.S. Army, American Veterinary Medical Association, ICE Miller, LLP, Cargill Meat Solutions, and Fifth Third Bank of Central Indiana. Student workshops also gave students the opportunity to learn about careers, service, and civic responsibility. It is the hope of the workshop presenters that students will take back the knowledge they learned and will apply it to their schools, homes and communities for a bright future filled with young leaders.
Thursday morning found the Clarke County FFA members observing the Parliamentary Procedure contests in anticipation for this years state event. Members also spent the day attending student workshops. Student workshops encourage students to develop their skills in premier leadership, personal growth and career success by learning from others who have succeeded in their personal careers. Workshops include presenters from major organizations such as the U.S. Army, American Veterinary Medical Association, ICE Miller, LLP, Cargill Meat Solutions, and Fifth Third Bank of Central Indiana. Student workshops also gave students the opportunity to learn about careers, service, and civic responsibility. It is the hope of the workshop presenters that students will take back the knowledge they learned and will apply it to their schools, homes and communities for a bright future filled with young leaders. In addition, the Clarke County Horse judging team began their competition on Thursday in the National FFA Contest. Thursday night FFA members relaxed at the Indiana State Fairgrounds and watched the Broncs and Bull event.
The horse judging team was up early and back for their second day of competition on Friday while the other FFA members and Ms. Long travelled to Cincinnati, Ohio for a visit to their world famous Aquarium where they observed numerous fish and even had the opportunity to touch live sharks. The Clarke County FFA Horse Judging Team attended the Awards Banquet on Friday night where they nervously awaited the results of the National Horse Judging Contest.
Members of the Clarke County FFA horse judging team were one of 46 teams participating in the National FFA Horse Evaluation Career Development Event (CDE). The team, composed of Elizabeth Newhart, Summer Enger, and Laura Russman, was awarded a Gold emblem. Members also competed for individual awards with 175 other participants. Elizabeth Newhart received a Gold emblem, Summer Enger received a Gold emblem, and Laura Russman received a Silver emblem. Sara Enger who was part of the team winning the state competition to qualify for nationals was unable to participate due to scheduling conflicts with her college studies.
The National FFA Horse Evaluation CDE is a competitive activity that tests the student’s ability to select and evaluate horses. Event components include eight selection classes that consisted of four halter classes and four performance classes. Students also give four sets of oral reasons with two sets coming from each evaluation class. Each team competed at local and state levels for the privilege of representing their state at the national FFA convention.
Saturday morning found a very tired by excited group of Clarke County FFA members packed and boarding the bus for the trip back to Clarke County. The chapter members arrived back in Berryville about 7:30 pm and were happy to see family and friends upon their arrival. FFA members attending this years convention were Michael Arthur, Michaela Garrison, Morgan Alexander, Jordan Childs, Catie Hope, Kiersten Cochran, Corey Orndorff, Samantha Pearson and Christina Hash, Summer Enger, Laura Russman, Lizzie Newhart, Helena St. Clair, Sydney Chrane, Monica Warfield, Natalie Wright and Kayla Lloyd with our two advisors Mr. Glenn Cole and Ms.Maggie Long. The Clarke County members and chapter would like to thank everyone in Clarke County for their continued support and encouragement.