Simon Says … another FFA convention in the books

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(Blog by Reporter Chris Kick)

I’ve never been particularly good at playing Simon Says. In fact, I haven’t played that game in years, but I saw close to 6,000 FFA members and their parents give it a try at this year’s state convention, April 30 in Columbus.

I thought for sure out of 6,000 — it would be nearly impossible to select a winner. But as the game went on, led by motivational speaker Curtis Zimmerman, it became clear that Zimmernan would at least get that number trimmed down to a handful.

In the end, that handful consisted of just three FFA members, who somehow managed to dodge all of Zimmerman’s tricks — including sudden changes in his voice, his hand gestures and body language — all in an effort to catch FFA members off guard and to determine who was the very best.

While the game was no doubt in the name of fun — and keeping the large crowd entertained — it also demonstrated a couple of Zimmerman’s key points. One being the willingness to try new things. He told them the only time they truly grow in life is when they push themselves to do things that they’re uncomfortable with.

Taking chances

At state convention, they took a risk just by playing Simon Says with a man who no-doubt had mastered the perfect plan to get most of them out.

Zimmerman, who currently lives in Cincinnati, is an award-winning mime and public speaker, and he knows stage presence inside and out.

Still, it was fun watching members try to beat him, and several dozen came close. He had intended on just one winner — to whom he planned to give a free copy of some of the books he has authored — but he had to settle on three winners to get the game over.

Zimmerman’s broader message was that FFA members should “live life at performance level.”

Tunnel end
State officer introduction.

The preparedness and excitement of being on stage is something they should carry over into their lives, he explained. But more importantly, they should learn to direct their own lives, he said. He reminded them they all have choices about how their life plays out, and to make those choices wisely, so they can experience the best outcome.

New experience

This was the sixth FFA convention I’ve covered for Farm and Dairy and the first that I covered with Reporter Brian Lisik. The two of us were kept on our feet all day, as we handed out free copies of the paper inside the trade show, and as we met with award winners during the Recognition Luncheon, held in the Rhodes Center on the Ohio State Fairgrounds.

Lisik covered the luncheon, and posted his story here. I covered the keynote speakers during the general session and posted my story here. And I put together a list of key award winners from opening day.

Opportunities in ag

On the way home from convention, Lisik told me he was impressed with all of the opportunities agriculture has for young people — whether it’s ag-related careers or opportunities to educate the public.

I’m pretty sure he enjoyed the FFA talent acts, as well. I looked across the auditorium several times, and saw him filming the performers and getting some close-ups.

I’m not surprised. Aside from his work at Farm and Dairy, he sings and performs in his own band, called Brian Lisik and the Unfortunates.

As for me, one of my favorite parts of convention was seeing the new FFA chapters recognized on stage. It’s encouraging to know this organization is growing, and providing new opportunities for new schools across Ohio.

Congratulations on another great convention, and congratulations to these new chapters: Cleveland East Tech, Eastern FFA, Milton Union, Minford, and Vinton County FFA.

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