Yearly planning yields positive results for FFA convention

Denise Watt

Denise Watt

Each spring, hundreds of high-school FFA members travel to SDSU for their annual state convention. But what some may not realize is that planning for the “blue plague” begins long before the students in corduroy jackets arrive.

For three years, junior agricultural education major Michelle Kramer has helped coordinate the convention’s career development events, or CDEs. This year’s convention featured nearly 15 contests, ranging from floriculture to ag business management, in which FFA members could compete.

She and her assistant, sophomore animal science major Ashley Streff, began meeting weekly in January to plan for this year’s April convention.

“Ashley and I have to carefully balance our schedules in order (to) get everything ready for convention and not neglect the other priorities in our lives, like school, family and friends,” said Kramer.

“The most rewarding part is seeing all of the FFA members enjoying convention-all of the hard work and dedication they have put into the year is recognized.”

As student CDE coordinators, Kramer and Streff work with faculty event chairpersons, recruit volunteers to help with the events and create the event schedule.

“We continue meeting even after convention is over, to wrap up, write thank-yous and organize for next year,” Kramer said.

In addition to Kramer and Streff, other SDSU students help chair the individual events and serve as volunteers during the contests.

“The convention ran very smoothly,” said Gerri Eide, assistant state supervisor for agriculture education. “We are very fortunate to have so many faculty members and students volunteer their time and efforts before and during the convention to make this a great learning opportunity for the FFA members that attend.”

Eide said the college students who help with the convention gain skills such as organization and time management, and live out this year’s national FFA theme “Living to Serve.”

“That is what the FFA is truly about, teaching young people the importance of serving something greater than yourself,” Eide said. “The college students that help with convention are doing exactly that-serving the youth by giving back to the organization that helped them grow while they were in high school.”

She added, “The convention would truly not be possible without all the college volunteers. The state officers, myself and the agriculture education teachers in the state really appreciate how welcome SDSU makes the FFA.”

In addition to contests, the convention featured speakers, including SDSU student Jessie Geib, current national FFA secretary.

“It was nice ? for FFA members to spend time with her, hear her speech on Monday night and attend her workshop,” said Eide. “Her example shows members that if they work hard, they can achieve their goals.”

More than 1,800 FFA members registered for this year’s convention, the 78th annual, held April 23 through 25, said Eide. Several hundred guests and parents attended as well, she said.