Written by “Ag Time with Abby” Crawford
Once a year comes a time that every FFA member gets excited about… a time to mingle with each other, compete to the best of their abilities, celebrate a year of achievements, and honor the country’s agriculturalists. The National FFA Convention is one every FFA member dreams of going to as they grow in the organization.
The past two years I have been honored to represent Warner University and our phenomenal Agriculture Studies program at this convention. This year was no different.
Myself and seven other students: Keri Greenwood, Morgan Kennedy, Chacen Taylor, Kyle Purvis, Moriah McCullers, Timothy Cuellar and Bristol Wells, got the opportunity to travel to Indianapolis where we joined approximately 65,000 other parents, members, and guests attending the 89th National FFA Convention and Expo. Over the length of five days we were able to speak with thousands of students about what Warner has to offer them.
Our first day was filled with traveling as we flew out of Orlando early Tuesday morning and arrived that evening in Indy. It gave us time to bond with one another and get those who had never been to national convention before really excited and a little preview of what to expect. Our second day in Indy started bright and early as we arrived to the expo hall to set up our booth and get to work.
Here come the students! As I spoke to high school students at national convention, I reflected on when I was in their shoes. By the end of our trip, we had about 1,500 students fill out information cards and some advisors even asked us to come visit their schools to speak to more students!
Chacen Taylor, Kyle Purvis, Bristol Wells, Keri Greenwood, Abby Crawford, Morgan Kennedy, Moriah McCullers, Dir. of Ag Dev. Scarlett Jackson, Timothy Cuellar
Thursday, our third day, was a little different than in year’s past. This year half of our group had the chance to judge national competitions like “creed speaking” and agriculture communications. Keri Greenwood, Moriah McCullers, Scarlett Jackson, Bristol Wells and I all served as judges for such contests. We had a lovely lunch before judging began where contestants were recognized and we had a chance to mingle with them. We were then escorted to our judging rooms so that interviews could begin.
After a total of four hours, between interviewing and scoring rubrics, we wrapped up our evening of judging and headed across the street to Lucas Oil Stadium and watched the top 12 talent competitions compete for their place in top three.
We finished our night around the dinner table laughing about things that had occurred throughout the day and the fact that Thursday was the coldest day and the only day that all of us girls had to wear dresses!
Friday we tore down our backdrop, or “The Beast” as we like to call it, and packed it up to head home! We wanted the chance to see some Indiana agriculture so we took our free time and headed off to Beasley’s Orchard in Danville, IN; a little cabin sitting off an old dirt road with warm Apple Cider ready inside, some Amish banana nut bread, mini pumpkin pies and all the homemade jams and jellies you could think of!
After we purchased our sweets we walked outside to sit around a warm and toasty little fire before running in to the “little farmer play section” to jump on a huge blown up tarp. Yes, eight college students between the ages of 19-22 all ran to get a few minutes in of jumping our worries away! We had an absolute blast…
On Saturday we watched 3,780 FFA members get awarded the prestigious American Degree. It is the highest degree a member can receive in our organization. To be awarded you must have received your state degree, been an active member the past three years, graduated from high school at least 12 months ago, earned and invested at least $2,000 and worked 2,250 hours in a “Supervised Agricultural Experience” (SAE), at least 50 hours of community service, and have an outstanding record of leadership and scholastic history.
Each year only 1% of FFA members are awarded this honor. I am so pleased to announce that Warner University Collegiate FFA Chapter had not one but FIVE members accomplish this goal!! Congratulations to Krystal Dombroski, Keri Greenwood, Cole Newman, Moriah McCullers, and Maegan Meredith. You all worked so hard for this and without a doubt deserve it!
Once our members walked across the stage to receive their pins, we were off to the airport! As we looked back on our trip and the memories we made, we could not have asked for a better experience.
We were all in a group chat the whole week and when we made it home Saturday night each of us texted in the group saying “Goodnight Fam!” to one another. Our group was close before going, but after our trip, we really did become one big ol’ family!
I am so thankful for the opportunities Warner has given me over the course of two years and I cannot wait to see what the next two have in store.
It is because of continued support from companies and families like Florida’s Natural Growers Foundation, David Byrd, and the Thompson family that we are able to go on impactful trips like these.
On behalf of my fellow classmates and myself, thank you so much for all you do for our community and helping to grow future leaders.