Ohio FFA opens 90th convention

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FFA gavel
The Ohio FFA officer team taps the gavel to open the 90th state convention in Columbus.

COLUMBUS — From a Heisman Trophy winner to a deputy undersecretary of agriculture, FFA members at this year’s state convention were told to seize the opportunity and make the most of each day.

The 90th convention drew more than 8,000 members and guests to the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus, May 3-4. The theme was “I can. We will.”

Hard work

On the first day, former Ohio State University football great Eddie George talked about the hard work and determination that helped him through college and in the NFL. George told members about the importance of perseverance, whether it’s through schoolwork, athletics, or life in general.

George said that because of his success with football, people sometime assume it was easy for him. In reality, it took hard work, determination and grit.

“It was full of highs and a lot of lows. Peaks and valleys, and a lot of time was spent in the valleys,” he said.

Set goals

Gian Paul Gonzalez, a high school teacher who turned down a career in the NBA to focus on being a teacher and helping others, told FFA members to give their full effort in life.

“‘All-in’ to me is not a slogan,” he said. “It’s something I try to live every single day.”

Gonzalez is well-known for his pre-game speech to the New York Giants, prior to the team winning the 2011 Super Bowl. He gave each player a poker chip and told them to write their number on one side, and what they wanted to accomplish on the other.

Likewise, Gonzalez told FFA members to make their own chip, with a goal of what they are willing to commit to.

During a reception to honor FFA sponsors, Tracy Kitchel, Ohio State University professor and chair of the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership, talked about how his own experience in FFA and farming helped him develop the “grit” that would carry him through life.

Kitchel said FFA members need to remember that being on stage is great, but the greater part is the effort they put in to get there.

“The most important thing in FFA is not always reaching the peak, but instead, is the climb to get there,” he said. “My grit did not come from the times I reached the peak — my grit came from the climb.”

Greg Ibach, the USDA undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs, said FFA members have a leg up on others because they know the value of a full-day of work and sticking with a project.

Each day matters

He reminded the members that each day matters, and to take life seriously.

“The first thing I want you to remember is that today matters,” he said. “And the attitude you put into it and the skills that you’re learning and your ability to transpose that into work ethic down the road is very important.”

Erica Baier, the national FFA secretary, said FFA members can accomplish much when they show up and give their full effort.

“It’s not about your ability; it’s about your availability,” she said. “What’s the chance you are going to take?”

The convention concluded with the presentation of state degrees and the confirmation of the new officer team. The new sentinel is Mallary Caudill, West Liberty Salem; reporter, Bailey Eberhart, Harrison Central; treasurer, Kalyn Strahley, Paulding; secretary, Gretchen Lee, Pettisville; vice president, Holly McClay, Fredericktown; president, Kolesen McCoy, Global Impact STEM Academy.

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