December 2017
Youth Matters

I Can. We Will.

Alabama FFA delegates attend the electrifying and inspiring 90th National Convention.

 

Alabama’s National FFA Convention Delegation

"I Can. We Will" was the theme of the 90th National FFA Convention and Expo held in Indianapolis, Indiana, Oct. 25-28, 2017. Over 67,000 FFA members from the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands came together, filling FFA Way with a sea of blue. This is the second consecutive year the National Convention has been held in Indianapolis.

Annually, National 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.

As the Alabama FFA State President, I had the distinct honor of meeting with U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos for a small-group, roundtable discussion with nine other states’ association representatives. We discussed the importance of Career and Technical Education and the impact of the National FFA Organization.

FFA is the world’s largest student-led organization. The governing body, made up of 475 voting delegates, met during the convention. Delegates served on six different committees, debating issues brought forth by state associations and creating proposals for consideration by the national board. Ten delegates represented Alabama’s nearly 15,000 FFA members. Alabama’s six state officers, in addition to our three district presidents and one at-large member, served as Alabama’s voting delegate team.

Will Jordan, Alabama FFA State Reporter, described his delegate experience by saying, "This was my second year serving as a delegate and it was just as remarkable as the last. The opportunity to network with other state officers and returning delegates as well as the opportunity to make decisions and vote on proposals that would positively impact our organization was humbling."

Cameron, fifth from left, was selected as a representative of the National FFA members to serve on a special roundtable committee with U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, in yellow jacket.

 

As a Discussion Group Leader and returning delegate, I enjoyed seeing the intense passion each and every delegate showed regarding the future of agriculture and the National FFA Organization.

Jasey Black, Alabama FFA State Treasurer, said, "It is very exciting to see peers leading discussions, chairing committees and sharing opinions when drafting committee reports. I loved being reminded that we are a student-led organization and seeing states come together in order to achieve common goals."

Delegates worked hard and played hard. This was my fourth National FFA Convention and second as a delegate. Being on the delegate floor will always be remembered as one of my most electrifying convention experiences, unlike any other. The craze and excitement on the delegate floor can be described as life-changing – uniting delegates as one.

"The flow of energy could be felt onto the floor of Banker’s Life Fieldhouse. The music and lights added to the energy and had the delegates dancing and singing well before each session began," said Banx O’Barr, Alabama North District FFA President.

National Convention general sessions provided inspiring messages and several opportunities to celebrate the accomplishments of fellow members. Trent Thomas from the Goshen FFA Chapter was featured onstage as a Poultry Proficiency Finalist and was named the National Winner. Eleven Alabamians received their American FFA Degree, including past state officers Cassidy Catrett, Ivy Harbin and Jordan Stowe.

The Alabama Delegation had much to celebrate, including the recognition of Andy Chamness, Alabama FFA Executive Secretary, being awarded with Honorary American FFA Degree and Alabama FFA State Advisor Jacob Davis being recognized for his service to the National FFA Board.

Members enjoyed hearing motivational messages from retiring national officers and keynote speakers, including Laila Ali, Mick Ebeling and Jon Petz.

Gracen Sims, Alabama FFA State Secretary, especially enjoyed the national officer team’s retiring addresses and being challenged and motivated by session speakers.

John Crawford, Alabama FFA State Vice-President, vividly remembered the words of National President David Townsend’s retiring address and summarized them by saying, "We can choose to live each day for the betterment of ourselves or we can choose to use our gifts and talents for the good of those around us."

 

The Alabama FFA State Officer Team stops for a photo outside of Banker’s Life Fieldhouse.

Caitlin Nolin, Alabama South District FFA President, and Maggie Edwards, Woodland FFA Chapter President, agreed that David Townsend’s challenge to "find H.O.M.E." was inspiring. H.O.M.E. was defined as Helping Others Maximizes Experiences.

Members witnessed history being made in the closing session when the new National Officer Team was elected and installed. Breanna Holbert, California, became the first African-American female to be elected National FFA President.

Jordan Brown, Alabama Central District FFA President, said, "I will never forget seeing the faces of the newly installed national officers. In that moment, their hard work had paid off and their excitement was contagious."

After several action-packed days, members returned energized and motivated to make a positive impact in their homes and communities.

When reflecting on his convention experience, Alabama FFA State Sentinel Bryce Hendricks described what this year’s theme meant to him.

"I realized that ‘I Can. We Will’ means I can as an individual; however, we will serve our organization more effectively whenever we come together as one unit."

Whether from the suburbs of a major city or the fields of a rural town, individually each member can do great things. When members zip up their blue jackets, we unite as one and that is when we have the power to make the greatest impact. "I Can. We Will." Join us in Montgomery for the 90th Annual Alabama FFA State Convention June 6-8, 2018. We look forward to seeing you there!

 

Cameron Catrett is the Alabama FFA State President and 90th National FFA Convention and Expo Leadership Delegate representing Alabama.