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FFA members swept up in national convention's sea of blue

Staff writer

Imagine a high school student walking for the first time into a convention center where the population of your entire town could sit in one small section of the arena.

What would you expect from an event in its 87th year, an event that drew 60,000 likeminded strangers to Louisville, Kentucky, from all over the United States into a nexus of agricultural related activities known as the National FFA Convention?

It might sound something like this.

“I have never seen so much blue,” Marion High School freshman Jayden Hallowell said Friday between activities, referring to common FFA attire. “I honestly never expected to feel so welcome here, but people here treat you like family.”

Jayden, sophomore Amy Cairns, and Elizabeth Meyer, Marion junior and FFA chapter officer, attended many of the same activities and discussions together.

Having attended previous years, Elizabeth said she was still having a “total blast” but was also privy to information at leadership workshops she found valuable as an officer.

“We learned how to appreciate the diversity in our chapters and talked about ways that we can use our individual skills to become better leaders,” she said. “I’m a pretty outgoing person so that helps me welcome new members into our chapter.”

Amy said she was learning to become less shy and become more sociable between all the fun she was having meeting new and different people that happened to be not so dissimilar.

“Having common goals and interests makes it easier to talk to people you don’t know,” she said. “People here are really nice.”

Mark Meyer, USD 408 FFA faculty representative, informed students of behavior expectations and as ambassadors, he urged them to all be positive examples of the Marion County youth.

He also gave members a list of 100 things they needed to do during the conference as a way to keep them on task.

“They were supposed to speak to different colleagues and vendors,” Meyer said. “I don’t know if they realized this, but the career expo here is amazing.”

Students also visited the birthplace of countless home runs at the Louisville Slugger factory and Churchill Downs, the site of the Kentucky Derby.

For the Hillsboro chapter, traveling to and from the event was as educational as the convention itself. Hillsboro FFA faculty representative Sonya Roberts and members visited derby horses and learned about baseball bats, too.

On the way, they visited Warm Springs Ranch in Missouri where they learned how Clydesdale horses make the cut for the Budweiser horse team, and visited the St. Louis Arch where they learned its history and viewed the city from the arch’s apex. Roberts also took students to a cavern where they learned about its formation and said they enjoyed a county concert that was part of the convention.

Last modified Nov. 5, 2014

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