By Bethany Starlin, OCJ FFA reporter
For many, spring time represents new beginnings, positive growth and excitement for the summer ahead. For FFA members across the state, however, it encompasses the celebration of the end of another year in the blue jacket.
Each May, FFA members, advisors and supporters travel to Columbus to celebrate the organization’s accomplishments over the past year. State degrees are earned, proficiency awards are given and Career Development Event competition teams are recognized for their successes.
Although relatively short in length, the two days spent at state convention are often a defining moment in many FFA members’ careers.
“If you ask FFA members, current or past, what the moment was when they got their initial spark for FFA, I think many of them would say it was either a state or national convention,” said Katy Endsley, Ohio FFA Program Manager. “The collective energy in the room, feeling the excitement from the people around you and seeing students recognized on stage really sets the tone for the rest of their FFA career.”
For nearly two years the seats of the Celeste Center at the state fairgrounds have sat empty during state convention due to the pandemic. Instead of gathering in-person, celebrations took place in members’ homes and schools to protect the health and well-being of all. This week, however, those seats will be filled once again.
With the past two state conventions taking place virtually, the upcoming convention has a unique sense of excitement surrounding it.
“The convention has always been a celebratory experience for students, a culmination of their accomplishments and the work they’ve put in over the year,” Endsley said. “However, I think it is particularly meaningful this year because this convention is a way to celebrate being back in-person and the ability to celebrate their accomplishments together as an association.”
Nearly three-fourths of the members in attendance will be experiencing their very first in-person state convention. Members from the Ohio FFA State Officer Team shared their advice to members attending their first state convention and to those returning after several years of virtual celebrations.
“Have fun! Many of you have never seen an in-person convention before, this will truly be an experience like no other. We want to make this convention electric, but we need your help!” — Dawson Osborn, State Reporter
“Take it in, don’t be afraid to talk to members from other chapters, take photos and engage in every opportunity you can.” — Faith Galavich, State Sentinel
“Enjoy the space of both where you are and where you are going. Let your state convention experience serve as both a finishing experience and the start of a new journey in the FFA.” — Morgan Anderson, State Vice President
“Keep your eyes open and embrace every moment. The time you spend at convention will be some of the best memories you make during FFA.” — Cassie Mavis, State Vice President at Large
“Be willing to meet new people from other parts of Ohio. Get to know their personal story inside and outside of FFA.” — Mackenzie Ott, State Treasurer
“As an FFA member, state convention was always an opportunity for me to create new friendships. I always looked forward to meeting others and hearing stories from across our state. Your first state convention may offer you friendships that you carry throughout your FFA journey and even beyond, so be open to meeting every new individual on your path!” — Jared Dunn, State Vice President at Large
The Ohio FFA State Convention will run May 5 and 6 at the Ohio State Fairgrounds. Those who are unable to attend in-person can view the official convention livestream at https://bartha.swoogo.com/ohioffa2022/livestream.