By Bethany Starlin, OCJ FFA reporter
After a year of distanced and virtual delivery methods, the National FFA Delegate Experience returned to Indianapolis, Ind. during the 94th National FFA Convention and Expo.
The Delegate Experience begins a few months before national convention at the conclusion of the State Officer Summit in Washington, D.C. Each state association selects two leadership delegates who will be responsible for facilitating committee work at national convention.
During the kickoff session in July, those leadership delegates designate which committee they will serve on and assign leadership roles within them. This year, Jake Zajkowski, Ohio FFA State President, led the Supervised Agricultural Experience Committee as the 1st Vice Chair at the National FFA Delegate Experience in Indianapolis just ahead of National Convention.
“It’s been exciting to lead this national discussion on work based learning experiences over the last 4 months. How FFA members get involved in agricultural jobs and career experiences will continue to evolve as our organization does,” Zajkowski said.
Ohio’s other leadership delegate, Morgan Anderson, Ohio FFA State Vice President, is serving the Membership Experience committee as a Discussion Group Leader.
“I believe what makes this experience even more fulfilling is knowing that the changes I’m spearheading are ones that will create impact, both for the National FFA and Ohio FFA,” Anderson said.
The remainder of Ohio FFA’s 14 delegate seats were filled by the 2021-22 State Officer Team in addition to a few past state officers. The purpose of the Delegate Experience is to ensure the organization remains a grassroots organization. Through committee work, delegates discuss important initiatives within the National FFA Organization and submit a list of recommendations to the National FFA Board of Directors.
The delegates arrived in Indianapolis a few days ahead of convention to conduct their delegate work.
“We began with hearing delegates and public testimony, then develop ideas that will advance National FFA in the respective committee topic. The varying opinions of state associations across the nation were expressed through debate and eventually consensus as a committee was reached,” Zajkowski said.
The National FFA Delegate Experience allows participants to meet students from across the country who share a similar passion for agriculture and the FFA. The experience is a highlight for many state officers.
“As a whole, this process could not be more eye opening as I get to connect with members from all parts of our nation and organization. On my first day of delegate work, I got to meet a high school FFA delegate, David, who comes from the southern border of Texas. David and I have been able to work hand-in-hand to take our experiences and knowledge to create a physical change in our organization,” Anderson said.
At the 94th National FFA Convention and Expo, delegates worked within six committees. Each committee worked tirelessly to compose a committee report to be reviewed at the delegate business session and then submitted to the board.
American Degree Qualifications Committee
The American Degree Qualifications Committee evaluated the requirements of the American FFA Degree and their relevance to the current agricultural and national landscape.
Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE) Committee
The SAE Committee evaluated the current state of participation and recognition for student SAEs and explored ways to better align SAE-based programs with current trends in the agricultural industry.
Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategies Committee
The Teacher Recruitment and Retention Committee assessed areas in which we can better
prepare students interested in an agricultural education career to be more equipped upon entering the profession.
Committee for Enhancing FFA Members’ Connections with Industry Members and Alumni & Supporters
The Enhancing FFA Members’ Connections with Industry Members and Alumni & Supporters
Committee evaluated the Forever Blue Network’s role to enhance relations with industry professionals, production agriculturists and FFA Alumni & Supporters.
Committee for Post-Pandemic Organization Modifications
The Committee for Post-Pandemic Organization Modifications gauged the implementation of alternative program delivery methods in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, they explored the modifications necessary to expand opportunities for participation in the future.
Membership Experience Committee
The purpose of the Membership Experience Committee was to evaluate the barriers to membership within the National FFA Organization and determine ways to better improve the membership experience for all students.