A dream that started 50 years ago has been a reality for some time. Indiana ag teachers decided in the 1960s that they wanted their own location to host camps and other leadership training events. The Indiana FFA Foundation Board stepped out on a limb and borrowed money in 1968 so the ag teachers’ dream could start down the road toward reality. The board purchased 169 wooded acres near Trafalgar, Ind., which are known today as the Indiana FFA Leadership Center.
The reality was cemented recently when the Indiana FFA Foundation finally paid off the original mortgage on the property. Lisa Chaudion, Indiana FFA executive secretary, says the Indiana FFA Leadership Center is now debt-free.
Owen Coon, 2017-18 Indiana FFA northern region vice president, chaired the opening session of the 2018 Indiana State FFA Convention in June, and the session included a ceremonial burning of the mortgage. The ceremony consisted of a video depicting a “virtual writing” of the last check, it being sent to the loan office and the paid-off mortgage document being received at the convention hall — it was all done by drones and FFA state officer couriers. The video was a spoof, and the document Chaudion and the lender ripped into on stage wasn’t real, but the mortgage has been paid off and there is no longer a mortgage on the property, Chaudion assured FFA members and advisors.
The mortgage amount increased over the years as more money was borrowed for improvements, including the original conference center, lake, lodge, cabins, a house for the Indiana FFA state officers and other improvements.
“There have been a lot of ups and downs since 1968, but the mortgage is finally paid off,” Coon told the crowd. “The Indiana FFA Center now officially belongs to the Indiana FFA.”
Over the past two years Indiana FFA conducted a “Pay It Forward” campaign to raise the money needed to pay off the mortgage. More than $200,000 was raised in donations from chapters, members and companies during the campaign, Chaudion reported. Farm Credit Mid-America was a major contributor in the final drive to raise the money necessary to pay off the mortgage in time for the convention.
Chaudion noted that the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Indiana FFA Center will continue throughout 2018.