By Bethany Starlin, Ohio FFA president
Each May, Ohio FFA members, educators and supporters travel to Columbus to celebrate the successes achieved over the past year. Although the delivery format and location may be different, this year is no exception.
In the best interest of the health and safety of all, the 93rd Ohio FFA Convention will be held virtually, April 29th and 30th. Despite being delivered in a virtual format, FFA members, advisors, family and supporters will still attend general sessions, see the selection of the new state officer team, celebrate their Career Development Event successes from the past year and more. Ohio FFA staff and the state officer team have gone above and beyond in order to make this convention special for all involved.
“We are including students in convention through live reactions and ceremonial pieces. We hope to bring more excitement to our screens and include as many members as possible from around the state,” said Allison Engel, Ohio FFA State Treasurer and senior at Ayersville High School. Members receiving results for Star State Degrees, National Chapter Awards, Proficiencies and those running for state office will be broadcasted on the big screen for all to watch. The live broadcast of winners will recreate the same element of excitement experienced during an in-person convention.
The bit of normalcy this convention provides serves as a beacon of hope for all. With the middle of March marking one year of virtual learning for many, a break from routine is needed.
“I am hoping this year’s convention will bring energy and excitement to our members. Everyone could use a refreshing break from the normal day to day routine,” said Caitlyn DeMassimo, senior FFA member at Norwayne High School.
Not only does convention bring a breath of fresh air, it offers the opportunity to honor all that was accomplished in these extraordinary times.
“I think that the convention this year is serving as a reminder to our members that we can still be excited to celebrate our awesome accomplishments in a not-so-ideal school year,” said Abbey VanTyne, Norwayne agriscience educator and FFA advisor.
Although the experience will be much different than that of an in-person convention, there are several advantages to the virtual format.
“It’s not every year that you get to “bring” your entire FFA chapter to the State FFA Convention,” VanTyne said.
Accessibility is a theme for convention as not only is there more opportunity for attendance, but thanks to Ohio FFA’s supporters, the convention is free for all to watch. “For the first time, we have a free, virtual convention that can reach more members, parents, teachers and sponsors than ever before. This convention can be seen anywhere from the greenhouse to the tractor, and it is truly a convention for all,” Engel said.
The 93rd Ohio FFA Convention marks the second year that the annual celebration has been held in an unconventional way. The 92nd Ohio FFA Convention was cancelled last May due to the spread of COVID-19. The unusual circumstances resulted in an alternative method in recognizing FFA members, the Ohio FFA Celebration.
“Convention serves as a beacon of hope for a new era in Ohio FFA. This past year, we have been able to create new ways to positively impact students from all around the state, and I can only imagine the great ways our association will continue to grow in the upcoming years,” Engel said.
For those interested in watching either live or the recordings afterwards, all convention resources can be found on the designated convention website: https://bartha.com/stream/ohio-ffa-convention/.