FFA members attend National Convention

BELOIT – Six members of the Beloit Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter recently traveled to Indianapolis, Ind. to attend the National FFA Convention. There were approximately 67,000 FFA members from across the nation who attended this year's convention.

The FFA organization is not only for students who want to be production famers, it also welcomes members who aspire to careers as teachers, doctors, scientists, business owners and more. During the convention students attended three general sessions where they listened to motivational guest speakers, watched national award finalists, and heard the retiring addresses from the 2016-2017 National FFA Officers. 

Beloit FFA Chapter Sentinel, senior Kaleb Jones, is in his third year attending the national convention. 

"I like seeing all of the varieties that FFA has to offer at the convention," said Jones. "To get to interact with all the other FFA members and just seeing what all is out there. The interaction is what I like." 

Beloit High School Chapter President, senior Diedrick Bolte, is in his second year attending the national convention. 

"I really learned about leadership abilities by watching not only national officers but also about what the delegates went through in FFA and what they are trying to get from the experience they have learned," said Bolte.  "I have taken the application process and won my division last year in the Kansas State in Agricultural Maintenance and Repair. I placed in the Silver Division in Nationals in the top 15 percent from all of the applications."

The proficiency applications provides information on FFA experience, a performance review,  job experience and a supervised agricultural experience program showing jobs performed with itemized details and a balance sheet. Skills and activities are also described in the application procedure and a resume and reference letters are included to help FFA members on their way to a career in their fields.

"It was very helpful attending the National convention to be able to see what others were able to do to improve their applications and to improve in my ranking to help me stand out over everyone else," Bolte said.

"I liked looking at the Supervised Agricultral Experiences (SAE) and looking at all the different programs," Jones said. In the Agra Business programs, I got to see the National winners and what all they do to better themselves in their field.  We can now work at bettering ourselves in our fields in Beloit, as we have to submit to SAE District. I hope to move on to State and into the National ranking as well.

A wide variety of programs at the convention included livestock to agra business, turk management and ag communications, horticultural and a wide varieties of SAE's.

Jones will be submitting this year in Turk management. He has worked through the Beloit Parks and Recreation department over the summer helping maintain 29 acres of grass at the sports complex, which fits into his work area. He helps maintain around 47 acres during the summer. 

While at the convention, members also went to the National FFA mall and Expo which consisted of different colleges, ag businesses, and stands that showed students opportunities in the future of agriculture. Alongside the convention, the FFA members also toured the NCAA Hall of Fame, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and went to the Cinch World’s toughest rodeo. The Beloit FFA Chapter members that attended learned a lot that will help them pursue agriculture in the future, and gained new ideas to benefit the chapter.

"I really enjoyed the Expo and to look at all the Agra business systems, to interact with FFA students from all over the nation from Kansas to Florida, and to see the diversification from all over the country, said Bolte."

"The National FFA Convention is a very special event. Students are able to get out of their comfort zones, try new things, visit new places and learn along the way," said Beloit High School Ag Educator/FFA Advisor Jake Rutledge. "Being a first year teacher, I had some anxiety about taking a four-day trip with students. However, I cannot think of a better group of students to go. These six went with the flow, were extremely fun and are overall great kids. I believe we brought back a lot of good information from this convention, and built stronger relationships between one another. I can't wait to take students back next year!"

The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.   

Helping others is one way the upperclassmen help throughout the FFA program. 

"I always tell the underclassmen to just keep trying," said Jones. "It never hurts to fail at something. That just makes you better and helps you learn through the process and to succeed the next time. We always have room to improve."

Today, the National FFA Organization remains committed to the individual student, providing a path to achievement in premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.

FFA continues to help the next generation rise up to meet those challenges by helping its members to develop their own unique talents and explore their interests in a broad range of agricultural career pathways. So today, they are still the Future Farmers of America. But, are also the Future Biologists, Future Chemists, Future Veterinarians, Future Engineers and Future Entrepreneurs of America as well.

Bolte says he will be attending North Central Kansas Technical College in Beloit after high school graduation to major in the Agricultural Equipment Technology program. He hopes to work as an equipment technician after college graduation. 

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