By Meredith Oglesby, OCJ FFA reporter
As the countdown to the 93rd National FFA Convention and Expo continues, FFA members, alumni, and supporters are excited and also curious for what a virtual convention will bring. For the first time, National Convention will be held virtually, which means that for the first time every FFA member who is interested in tuning in and taking part in the activities can do so.
For one FFA member, a virtual National FFA Convention creates a whole new set of obstacles to maneuver. Bailey Eberhart, a member of the Harrison Central FFA Chapter and the former 2018-2019 Ohio FFA State, is serving as Ohio’s national officer candidate. And instead of preparing for a week-long interview process to take place in person, Eberhart is preparing for rigorous week of interviews which will take place entirely online.
Eberhart has been involved in the FFA since the seventh grade when he enrolled in his chapters middle school program. Throughout his time as a member, he competed in career development events (CDE) such as parliamentary procedure, public speaking, general livestock judging and job interview. He also raised market hogs, market steers, broilers and rabbits as part of his supervised agricultural experience (SAE).
“Even though my family did not have a farm or an agricultural background, being involved in FFA pushed me to find routes to get experience with local livestock producers and learn more about the industry,” Eberhart said.
Currently, Eberhart is a student at The Ohio State University studying agribusiness and applied economics and minoring in meat science. He will be graduating in December of 2020 regardless of the outcome at national convention.
Eberhart is now discovering more about the FFA organization and agricultural industry through his studies to prepare for national office. He has learned just how diverse of an organization the FFA is with its programs and curriculum offered to students. He has also used this time to solidify why he is running for national office.
“I want to influence members across this country thus making a positive impact on their communities and homes,” Eberhart said.
Eberhart grew up in Harrison County, Ohio where poverty and food insecurity were fairly common. He realizes that these issues have become more prevalent during a time of uncertainty across the United States.
“I want to bring forth those FFA members who don’t have a way to be heard and amplify their voices,” Eberhart said. “I want to become a national officer so I can speak for those communities like mine, places and people that want to be seen, heard and supported by organizations like the FFA.”
Eberhart acknowledges that serving as a national officer is an honor and serving an organization with over 760,000 members holds a lot of weight.
“Being a national officer also means that you have a platform to change lives for the better,” Eberhart said.
Although this year will look much different, Eberhart shared that he expects the same amount of energy from everyone involved.
“I am most excited about the live sessions and all of the opportunities there are to interact with other members as well as the current National Officer Team,” Eberhart said.
The 93rd National Convention and Expo will take place virtually from October 27-29. There will be various digital events including general sessions, the FFA Blue Room, National Days of Service, Ask a National Officer, Exhibitor Live Chats and more. Some events will be prerecorded but many will be happening live.