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Indiana FFA Center should be considered a great resource for the stateIndiana FFA Center should be considered a great resource for the state

The Indiana FFA Center serves thousands of other Hoosiers besides FFA members.

Tom Bechman 1

October 10, 2016

3 Min Read

One of Indiana’s most unique and valuable resources lies in the hills of Johnson County, and most people outside of the ag community don’t even know it’s there.  

Indiana FFA Foundation Director Lisa Chaudion estimates that 100,000 FFA members have visited and taken advantage of the resources offered there since1974.


A lot has changed since those early days. Dedication to the center, especially by the visionaries who started it and those that came after them, hasn’t changed. Today the Indiana FFA Center includes a large lodge with a dining room for 300 and sleeping quarters, a conference center, state officer housing, six cabins, two bathhouses, a football field for marching band practices, a large open shelter house, a 5.5-acre lake for swimming and boating, miles of hiking trials, the largest low-rope leadership training course in Indiana, and a highly valued Fellowship Lodge available for small group events.

Big changes
In the 1970s most FFA members came to the center for camps in the summer. The world changed, and now most come on weekends during fall and winter. The training is just as intense and just as inspirational.  

Making financial ends meet has been a challenge since the land was purchased. The center operates year-round, and relies on other groups that use the facility to help keep the doors open. There have been ups and downs. On at least two occasions, the foundation board was forced to consider whether it could continue operating the camp, or if it would need to sell it. Every time the center appeared to be in dire straits, those who believe in it rallied, and helped turn the tide to keep it operating.

Center today
The past five years have been a more stable period for the Indiana FFA Leadership Center. Joe Park, a retired ag teacher, is the director, and he has rekindled a spirit of enthusiasm among FFA members and advisers to use the center. He and his staff have also attracted other groups to use the facility.

The Indiana FFA Foundation has invested nearly $500,000 in the center during this time, including money to install high-speed internet, Chaudion says.

“We’re excited about the future,” she says. “A $400,000 Lilly grant will allow schoolchildren to come here over the next three years in our Learn-Lead-Succeed program. This will help Indiana FFA also better serve Indiana schools and communities.”

The Indiana FFA Foundation Board recently started a Pay It Forward campaign to raise money over the next two years to finally pay off the mortgage on the center, standing at $180,000. Hopefully, this campaign will shore up the financial picture.

There are still many capital projects that could improve the center’s usefulness, including more cabins, and better road access and parking. Those may only be possible if more people step up to help.

The Indiana FFA Center is a huge, unique resource, helping provide training opportunities to not only Indiana FFA members, but also youth and adults across Indiana. It’s an economic engine that helps the local economy, and thus the state economy.

Here’s hoping that current campaign efforts are successful, and that the Indiana FFA Leadership Center continues as a great Indiana resource for years to come.  

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

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