Five students from Byron-Bergen High School (BBHS) had the opportunity to travel to Indianapolis, Indiana for the 94th National Future Farmers of America Association (FFA) Convention & Expo. Rachel Best, Maddie Pimm, Alex Schuck, Gracie Erin and Brendan Pimm joined students from over seven FFA chapters across New York state for the trip.
FFA is a youth organization for students who are interested in agriculture and leadership. Through agricultural-based, hands-on educational experiences, members develop the tools and leadership skills that translate into real-world personal and professional successes.
This year, the event was held from October 27-30 and over 56,000 members attended. There are many activities at the convention, including an agriculture-focused career and college fair, judging of national finalists for various career and leadership development events, inauguration of the following year’s FFA officers, and presentation of FFA degrees to new recipients.
“My favorite part was the sessions,” said Pimm, a senior at BBHS. “A lot of the FFA members would go up and talk about how FFA has impacted their life and it was really eye-opening.”
Rachel Best, a BBHS senior, originally learned of FFA when attending animal science camps at Genesee Valley BOCES and had no idea it would lead to her not only meeting people from all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, but being asked to serve as a New York State delegate at the convention.
“It was really cool to get that experience, to work with the state officers and do the business portion of FFA,” said Best.
“I never realized how big of a necessity agriculture is and I think without FFA I never would have learned,” continued Best. “We’re not just cows and plows, we’re a big leadership organization. Before FFA I wouldn’t have even wanted to talk to you. Now, I don’t stop talking.”
“One of the major portions of FFA is that we’re getting agriculture leaders,” said Jeff Parnapy, FFA advisor and agriscience and FACS instructor at BBHS. “Maybe you are a shepherd, and you own these sheep, but you’re going to have to be that leader who has to speak up to your industry. Maybe it means becoming a member and a leader with your local farm bureau, or maybe you need to advise your legislators.”
Parnapy’s FFA involvement allowed him to qualify for and receive a $1,500 scholarship grant from the Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE) to use toward a CASE food science course in the summer of 2022 which will benefit BBHS’s agriscience program. The scholarship was sponsored by Farm Credit East.
While in Indiana, students were also able to visit the Cleveland Museum of Science and tour Fair Oaks Farms. The trip was organized by the NYS FFA alumni and supporters.
The National FFA Convention & Expo is held annually, and registration is open to all FFA members. In 2022, the event will take place from October 26-29 at the same location.
Article by Amanda Dedie // Genesee Valley Publications