January 2017
Youth Matters

FFA Sentinel: Transforming Purpose into Action

Record numbers attend the 89th Annual National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis, Indiana.

89th Annual FFA National Convention and Expo

Indianapolis, Indiana, was flooded by a sea of national blue and corn gold from Oct. 19-22, 2016. Over 65,000 FFA members from the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands traveled there to attend the 89th Annual National FFA Convention and Expo. Indianapolis was home to the National FFA Convention from 2006-2012, but for most members this was their first time attending the convention in Indianapolis. For the past three years, the National FFA Convention was held in Louisville, Kentucky.

"With this year being the first year I attended the National Convention in Indianapolis, I was anxious to attend at a different site. The support from the community of Indy was so great and it made me feel like I was at home. Walking down FFA Way and seeing all of the smiling faces of excited members in blue jackets made me feel even more welcome," said Alabama FFA State Secretary Ben Castleberry.

The 89th National FFA Convention theme was "Transform Purpose to Action." Annually, the convention serves as a time to celebrate the accomplishments of members, teachers and the agricultural industry through competitive events, educational tours, leadership workshops, volunteer activities, concerts, rodeos and so much more.

Sierra Goodwin, Alabama FFA State President, shared about her convention experience.

"The convention showed me how truly blessed I am to be a part of our organization," she said. "It is an organization where I have a family of 649,355 members, who all share a love for FFA and agriculture. It has also shown me why my heart leads me where it does and just how much of a privilege and honor it is to serve as a State FFA Officer."


Torran Smith, Alabama State Sentinel from the Reeltown FFA Chapter, had the honor of being a flag bearer at the convention.

FFA is the world’s largest student-led organization. Alabama was represented by almost 800 FFA members, advisors and parents. The governing body, made up of 475 voting delegates, met during the convention and expo. Delegates served on six different committees; they debated issues brought forth by state associations and created proposals for consideration by the national board. Eleven delegates represented Alabama’s over 14,000 FFA members. Alabama’s six state officers, in addition to our three district presidents and one at-large member, served as our voting delegate team.

Torran Smith, Alabama FFA State Sentinel, described his delegate experience.

"This was my second year serving as a delegate," he said. "I loved the committee meetings this year, especially the small-group discussions.

"I mostly enjoyed seeing the passion every delegate showed regarding the future of agriculture and the National FFA Organization. The voting delegates were the hype of the national convention. All 475 delegates led the enthusiastic sea of blue in every general session."

I served on the Methods for Increasing Diversity and Inclusion Committee alongside Smith and could not agree with him more.

Although this was my third National FFA Convention, being on the delegate floor was an electrifying experience unlike any other. The energy and excitement during general sessions was life changing – helping delegates transform purpose to action.

"Realizing you are just one jacket in the sea of blue is very humbling, but knowing the impact that one jacket can make is very empowering," said Hannah Black, Alabama FFA State Reporter. "Everyone has the potential to do great things in their jacket. It is just up to them to find their passion and purpose."

Former Alabama FFA state officers Cody Maddox and Will Graves receive their American FFA Degrees. Pictured from left are Cody; Philip Paramore, FFA Executive Secretary; and Will.


The convention general sessions provided inspiring messages and several opportunities to celebrate the accomplishments of fellow members. Grady Gunn, Alabama FFA South District Secretary, could be found on stage throughout the convention as a member of the National FFA Band. Seventeen Alabamians received their American FFA Degree including past state officers Will Graves and Cody Maddox. The Alabama delegation could be heard loud and proud throughout the convention hall each time Alabama FFA State Advisor Jacob Davis took the stage for national board recognition. Ethan Mobley, Alabama FFA State Vice-President, and fellow delegates enjoyed hearing motivational messages from retiring national officers and keynote speakers Dianna Nyad, Jason Brown and Colin Ryan. Each speaker challenged and motivated members; leaving us eager to "Transform Purpose to Action."

Members returned energized and motivated to make a positive impact in their homes and communities.

When reflecting on her convention experience, Alabama FFA State Treasurer Becky Hawkins said, "It is hard to put into words the emotion, passion and love I felt as I walked beside an FFA member from Puerto Rico speaking another language, a Wisconsin FFA member and a few Texans screaming ‘Gig ‘em Aggies.’ We think about these places being so far away. Yes, geographically we are separated by lakes, mountains and even oceans, but, as we walk through the sea of blue, we become one. We share the same passion for agriculture and have the same heart for the FFA."

Continue to "Transform YOUR Purpose to Action" and join us in Montgomery for the 89th Alabama FFA State Convention on June 7-9, 2017.


Cameron Catrett serves as the 2016-2017 South District FFA President and a delegate representing Alabama at the 89th Annual National FFA Convention and Expo.