The 85th Annual Alabama FFA Convention is rapidly approaching! It seems just like yesterday when my team and I tapped the gavel officially closing the 84th Annual Alabama FFA Convention. The convention will begin on Wednesday, June 5, and conclude on Friday, June 7. Most of the State Career Development Events will be held on June 4 in Auburn. The FFA convention really gets kicked off with an FFA appreciation night at the Montgomery Biscuits baseball game on the evening of June 4 with FFA members throwing the opening pitch and singing the national anthem. The convention will be held, for the fourth year, in our capital city at the Montgomery Renaissance and Convention Center. At the convention, you can expect to see lots of Blue Jackets, career development awards and competitions, a huge interactive career show, proficiency awards, a keynote address by the National FFA Southern Region Vice-President Wiley Bailey, motivational keynote addresses, retiring addresses from the 2012-2013 Alabama FFA State Officers, the election of the 2013-2014 Alabama FFA State Officers and much more! FFA members will also be practicing the fourth and final line of the FFA motto, "Living to Serve," as they will help package at least 100,000 meals! These meals will be distributed directly in Alabama and across the United States.
As I was writing this article, I fell upon the "Farmer’s Creed." One line says, "I believe my life will be measured ultimately by what I have done for my fellow man, and by this standard I fear no judgment." As I dig into the meaning of this, I truly believe one of the most important things we were put on this Earth to do was to serve other people just as the farmer serves everyone every day. We, the Alabama FFA Association, are extremely grateful for the service all of our past members, supporters and industry partners did for our association. The time and/or money contributed to our association went a long way to help build a foundation for our members’ future. Without those contributions, the memories I and other members have would not have happened.
Memories are the only thing we as FFA members can bring with us from state convention. The memories I have are because of the great tradition Alabama FFA has been able to pass down from the very first FFA convention to the most recent one. I am one of those people who love tradition. Tradition is what makes an experience twice as fun. The traditions of eating at Dreamland, seeing who can collect the most "stuff" at the career show and going to do something fun as a chapter are memories I will replay in my head for my entire life. Tradition is very important in FFA; it is what keeps the National FFA Organization as the largest youth-led organization in America.
How do we keep tradition alive? We keep it alive by the past members who share the memories of their time in FFA. We keep it alive by the supporters of FFA who take their time to spread the ideas and benefits of FFA to the general public. Finally, we keep tradition alive by the industry partners who see the positive influence of agricultural education and FFA in the lives of students. Without the support of these advocates, FFA could not have developed the way it has in the past 85 years.
In order to keep the tradition alive, the Alabama FFA Association is encouraging all former FFA members, FFA supporters and those who are involved in the agricultural industry to attend the 85th Annual Alabama FFA Convention and State Career Development Events! We also invite you to schedule a visit to tour a CDE to see FFA members in action, practicing the skills they have learned throughout the year.
The theme for this year’s convention is "Grow." As I think of the comparison of FFA and "Grow," it’s more than what our roots of farming are; it’s about where we as an association have been, where we are now and where we are going. For FFA to grow, a "seed" must be planted in people to want to join and be active. The seed comes from the former members, supporters and industry partners. Without the help from these people, FFA would not have been able to grow like it has.
The Alabama FFA State Convention will be host to Career Development Awards, Proficiency Awards, Crime Prevention Awards, the M.K. Heath Animal Health Award, District/State Star Farmer Awards, the Mindy Stringer Memorial Scholarship, National Chapter Awards, the Francis Mizell Memorial Scholarship, leadership workshops and the Future Farmer/Agribusinessman of the Year Award. All plaques, banners, prize money, scholarships, etc. awarded are backed with sponsorship. Without the help of our generous sponsors, we would not be able to participate in the many opportunities available to our FFA members.
Luke Knight is the Alabama FFA State Reporter from the Wadley FFA Chapter.