SALEM, Ohio — For the next two days, April 30 and May 1, thousands of FFA members and their parents will travel to the Ohio State Fairgrounds in Columbus, as they “go all out” for the 87th state convention.
The event is a culmination of everything members and their advisers have worked for, and it usually draws more than 6,000 people — most of them dressed in the blue and gold of the Ohio FFA jacket.
This year’s theme — Go All Out! — challenges members to give a total effort to everything they do.
Many have done just that, as they’ve completed proficiency projects that recognize their abilities in a wide range of sciences — from raising livestock and crops to lawn care maintenance and horticulture.
They’ve also competed against each other through contests known as career development events that range from livestock judging to job interviewing and ag mechanics.
Tom Oglesby oversees the career development events and said there are more than 40 total.
Most of the contests were completed in the weeks leading up to the convention, but a few, like the ag issues CDE, will be held at convention.
“It’s been a scramble since about the first weekend in February,” Oglesby said.
But the scramble is almost over — and now the biggest thing to do is hand out awards.
Winners of state proficiency and CDE events will take their place on the stage inside the Celeste Center April 30 through May 1, along with the naming of Ohio’s “star” awards in agriculture, and the bestowing of the Ohio FFA Degree.
Lights, music, awards
It’s hard to describe an Ohio FFA convention for someone who hasn’t seen one. It’s a combination of awards and recognition — strobe lights, loud music, inspiration and good times.
“Convention is a fun time,” said Oglesby, who previously taught ag education for 31 years at Hillsboro.
The convention brings together students and their parents, advisers and community members — some of them meeting each other for the first time.
State officers like Sydney Snider, who served as this year’s president, have been traveling the state participating in leadership events and helping other members develop their potential.
They’ve been to all parts of Ohio, to FFA Camp in Muskingum County, and Snider even went to South Africa as part of an international leadership seminar.
“It’s been so overwhelmingly joyful,” Snider said.
Now, she and the other officers will come together for their biggest event: state convention.
Snider, who hails from Felicity Franklin FFA in Clermont County, said the officers have been working hard to memorize their speaking parts since March. Some of what they say is scripted by the Ohio FFA convention.
But the officers also create certain parts, as they introduce new award winners and deliver their own personal speeches.
The officer team usually arrives the Sunday before convention, and spends the next four days going over the script and getting ready.
“We are kept busy, but once Thursday hits, all of our parts are extremely memorized,” Snider said.
Even though officers are busy, Snider said there’s still ample time to mingle with other members and enjoy the convention.
“We really do have more free time than we think,” she said.
Snider said state convention is a great way for members to see everything that FFA does — and for younger members to get inspired.
“It’s a chance to see what everyone is talking about,” Snider said. “Even if you are not getting awarded something, you feel so excited for everyone else.”
And there will be quite a few members excited for Snider, including more than 50 members from her own chapter, who will be at convention.
She is her school’s first state president, and is a student at Ohio State University majoring in ag communications.
The convention will also feature a keynote address by Curtiz Zimmerman, motivational speaker and author; and Mackenzie Bart, Miss Ohio 2014.
Country music star Keith Anderson will provide entertainment April 30.
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