In FFA chapters across the country, students gain an agricultural education and have opportunities for leadership development, personal growth and career success. Every October, nearly 55,000 FFA members and guests unite on a national level. With "Infinite Potential" as this year's theme, the attendance at the 83rd National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Ind., set a record all-time high of 54,942 people.
During the Oct. 20-23 event, attendees crammed in as many workshops, motivational sessions and seminars as they could. In addition, there were a number of other attractions to take in, including the Three Hills Outlaws of Rodeo, hypnotists, a laser show and of course, the Easton Corbin and Lady Antebellum concert, which performed to a sold-out crowd of nearly 21,000 FFA members and guests at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Numerous students and advisers from around the area took part in the 2010 convention, and a few returned home with national recognition.
Thirteen FFA members from Tracy-Milroy-Balaton traveled to Indianapolis this year, including Kayla Daniels, Morgan Babcock, Alex and Galiya Bitton, Anna Johnson, Tanner Michelson, Cory Apperson, Eric Carter, Andrew Vroman, Casey Benson, Cody Welu and Shawn Zwach.
"The Lady Antebellum concert was amazing," Babcock said. "It was just for FFA people."
Vroman's favorite part of the trip was just walking around the convention and looking at all the ag-related things.
"When you were walking down the street, all you could see was blue jackets," Vroman said. "There was a lot of interesting stuff, like cool cars. I really like FFA a lot. It is amazing to see how much ag stuff there is out there."
Zwach wasn't a fan of the 25-hour trip in a 15-passenger van, but thoroughly enjoyed the experience in Indianapolis.
"Everything was pretty cool," Zwach said. "I haven't had the opportunity to travel much, and I got to do that with my best friends. The best part was meeting people from all over the country."
Zwach said that a lot people expected him to have a strong Minnesotan accent.
"People would come up to us and ask us to say something," Zwach said. "So I played along."
Daniels made the top 18 in the talent show and was able to showcase her vocal skills on the national stage.
"It was a lot of fun," Daniels said. "As I was walking backstage, I started getting butterflies. But as I was about to get on stage, I was more excited than nervous."
This year was Daniels' fourth time performing in the talent revue, and she's made a lot of friends in the process.
"It was a little different than other years, though, because I don't think I'm going back next year since I'll be in college," Daniels said. "It was hard to say good-bye to friends I met down there."
The TMB students also went to the St. Louis Arch, Louisville Slugger Museum and Churchill Downs.
Seven students from Russell-Tyler-Ruthton made the trip to Indianapolis. In Dairy Foods, RTR was recognized as a silver-emblem team. Casey Goodmund and Samantha Schaefer were awarded gold emblems as individuals, while Rachel Johnson received a silver emblem.
"We got 13th place, so we weren't too far off from getting gold," Goodmund said. "I'm glad I went to the convention. It was a good way to start off my senior year."
Goodmund said the experience was definitely a culture shock for her.
"I'm not used to being in a busy city," she said. "It's a little different from southwest Minnesota."
The team spent most of Wednesday studying for the competition, which was on Thursday.
"We had to identify the defects in milk and then score them," Goodmund said. "We also had to identify 10 different samples of cheese, which we could taste and smell. Then we had to determine if another set of samples was real or artificial dairy."
The final competition was written testing, first on production and marketing and then a team test.
"In the production exam, it was mostly math," Goodmund said. "I actually did pretty good. For the team test, we had to figure out how much you have to pay for certain things."
Marshall had around 20 students attend, FFA adviser Colleen Wichern said. The group took a charter bus to the convention, along with students from surrounding areas. While there, Marshall attended the Indianapolis Speedway, the Lady Antebellum concert, a chocolate factory and a deer and elk farm, along with sessions and keynote speakers.
The Marshall chapter ranked high nationally in one of the Career Development Events (CDE). Brady Welu, along with Eric DeBlieck, Taylor Welu and Kenny Deutz, placed 10th in Farm Business Management. The team was awarded a gold emblem. Brady Welu, DeBlieck and Deutz also received gold emblems as individuals, while Taylor Welu captured a silver emblem.
"I was very pleased with that," Wichern said. "That was pretty awesome that they were able to do that. Brady also did really well with his project."
In the 2010 Agriscience Fair, Marshall's Brady Welu won the Division 2 category in Engineering.
Adri DeBoer was one of three FFA students in Minnesota to be selected for the national chorus that included 80 students from across the country.
"Adri said she really enjoyed it and wants to go back and do it again," Wichern said. "She went down there before the convention started. When the wave of blue jackets came in, she said it was pretty amazing to see. She commented that Indianapolis changed so much after that."
Murray County Central students who attended the convention were Gabriele Holinka, Jacob Erickson, Alex Opdahl, Dylan Nelson, Haley DeGreeff, Greg Engelkes, Cole Bly and Michaela Noram. While there, the group went to the "Healthy Horse" and "Organic Farming" seminars.
Wabasso was one of six chapters to win the T-shirt contest. Members designed a short-sleeved T with "Who needs a license . . ." on the front and ". . . When you can drive a tractor!" on the back. More than 200 chapters submitted entries this year. After the organization trimmed the designs down to 12, more than 4,337 FFA members cast votes to determine the top six, which will be featured in the upcoming catalog and online.
Receiving American Degrees, which is the highest FFA recognition, were Marshall's Tylee Norman, Austin Sheehan and Kirby Schmidt, MCC's Tara Onken, Chris Opdahl and Travis DeKruif and Wabasso's Kate Arlene Maertens.