Ohio FFA Convention: An outsider’s perspective

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Ohio FFA theme
The theme of this year's convention was "I can. We will."

(This blog entry was written By Jaclyn Krymowski, a 2018 OSU graduate in animal sciences.)

The Ohio Expo Center was a sea of National Blue and Corn Gold May 3 and 4 during the 90th Ohio FFA State Convention. And members sported their FFA pride as they took in Ohio State University’s campus and many other sights Columbus has to offer. In the midst of the city smog and buzz, those unmistakable jackets stood out representing the promise of Ohio’s future in agriculture.

Jaclyn Krymowski
Jaclyn Krymowski

I’m an ag person through and through, but I never had the opportunity to take part in FFA, even though I knew it was an organization that deserved my support. After all, I showed alongside its members at the county fair and learned with proud former members in college, and we all chased similar goals. I remember how big of an accomplishment it was when a few of my friends earned their American Degrees. Even if I didn’t know all the fine details of the award, their pride and thrill were contagious. When I had the opportunity to attend the state convention, even though I was a college graduate and 21 years old, I was eager to see what all this was about. I was not disappointed.

Professional development

As an animal science major and 4-H alumnus, I am no stranger to impressive professional development in young people. In fact, you could say it’s a regular theme found throughout the ag world. Even with that familiarity, the professionalism and dedication in the very young assembly I watched pack into the Celeste Center caught my attention.

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As I watched the state officers open the first session, I immediately recognized the skill and grace in how they carried themselves were not something learned from classroom lessons. As next year’s state officers were named, you could feel the entire assembly hold its breath.

The trade show offered an opportunity for members, advisers, and supports to meet with professionals from state and national ag industries. Edibles and welding, I noted, were by far the most popular of stops. Workshops were also well attended by participants eager to invest in their future careers, pick up new skills, or just take in the opportunity for advice.

I played a game to see how many chapters I could recognize and where they were from, as I read the backs of the corduroy jackets. It wasn’t long before I noticed how each jacket, of every shape and size, proudly had “Ohio” embroidered in the signature Corn Gold across the top.

Official dress

I’d always loved the look of an FFA member in official dress: the stiff corduroys with careful embroidery work, the display of the proud emblem, all accompanied by a spiffy black tie or scarf, perhaps with a delicate degree chain dangling on the side. Now, I think I understand why I was so drawn into the whole look – it’s the unity that’s carried from one individual member to the next, each carrying their own accomplishments in the forms of degrees, elected chapter offices, or an accomplished SAE.

Across the states, wherever corn is grown, and no matter where they will go in life, these young FFA members are united under the same ideals and motivation.

The fine art of crafting young people into the best version of themselves is no easy task. It’s a delicate process of weaving together a future. From what I’ve seen, the Ohio FFA is working to put the future in the hands of young people with an agricultural education who are passionate and dedicated, all willing to make an investment in themselves so that they can give back to what they love most.

I can’t wait to see what things will look like when we hit the 100th annual convention!

Read our related coverage of this year’s event:

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