Future farmers fill Frost

When mid-April rolls around, SDSU students all seem to have the same thing on their minds. 

“There are blue jackets everywhere.” 

The 85th South Dakota State FFA convention was held April 14-16. For the past 85 years, SDSU’s campus has been the home of the South Dakota State FFA convention, which brings over 2,000 FFA members, advisers, guests and supporters into the Brookings community and the SDSU campus. 

This year was no different. Despite the unseasonal spring weather, all but three of South Dakota’s 77 FFA chapters were able to make the journey to Brookings to begin a three-day adventure at the state convention. In total, 1,935 FFA members from across the state attended the convention. Counting the total number of members and guests, the total was well over 2,000.

“We love coming to Brookings every year because it’s a short drive over for us,” said Clint Smith, Lake Preston’s FFA adviser. “My students really love it.” 

Over the course of the convention, roughly 70 SDSU students volunteered their time. SDSU students contributed by working on stage crew, photographing all of the convention’s festivities and helping out with several Career Development Events. CDEs give students the chance to take part in activities that they would face if they were involved in that area of agriculture in a job setting. Some of the different CDEs that FFA offers include nursery landscape, livestock judging, floriculture and natural resources, among many others. 

Freshman animal science major Emma Christensen spent some of her time on April 15 helping out with livestock judging. 

“I loved livestock judging in high school and I really just wanted to stay involved with it,” Christensen said. 

The FFA’s mission statement is: “FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.” During this year’s state convention, students had many opportunities to develop themselves in all three areas. 

Members who attended the sessions at the convention could see premier leadership at work as students and chapters received awards for all they do in their communities. Workshops were held for members for personal growth that included how to manage risk in their lives and how to take and give helpful feedback. A career carnival was held in the upper level of The Union for students to learn how they can stay involved in agriculture after their FFA careers are over. 

During the three days of the convention, awards were presented and speeches were given at four general sessions. Addresses during the sessions came from Brookings Councilman John Kubal, SDSU President David Chicoine, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences Barry Dunn and U.S. Representative Kristi Noem. Also included in these sessions were keynote speakers Rick Rigsby and 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 National FFA Western Region Vice Presidents Seth Pratt and Lindsey Anderson. 

The 2013 state convention concluded on the morning of April 16 after six new state FFA officers were elected to serve the South Dakota FFA for the next year. These six officers will be attending SDSU beginning in the fall semester.