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Travis Martin, FFA 2009-2010 president, greets Becky Skillman, then Lt. Governor, at the 2010 state convention at Purdue University Tom J. Bechman
FROM THE ARCHIVES: There will be a 2020 Indiana FFA convention — but it will be unique. Here, Travis Martin, 2009-10 state FFA president, greets Becky Skillman, then Indiana’s lieutenant governor, at the 2010 state convention at Purdue University.

Indiana FFA strives to deliver quality experiences despite pandemic

Six general sessions are planned during the regular week of state convention — all virtual.

The 2020 Indiana FFA Convention is scheduled for June 16-18. Rob Hays, executive director of the Indiana FFA, says it will still be held on those dates. It just won’t be held at Purdue University, and it won’t be 100% live.

“It won’t be the same experience, but it will still be a meaningful experience for students, advisors and friends,” Hays promises. “Since it is going to be different, we’re changing several things up. It will be unique, but we’re confident it will still showcase our members and the current state officers.”

Pulling off six virtual general sessions in three days; plus a delegate session, electing state, section and district officers; and holding a heavily pared-down slate of contests will be a challenge. Hays insists everyone involved is dedicated to making the event work.

Normally, a full slate of contests is held on Monday and Tuesday before the opening gavel drops. The only leadership development contests this year are prepared public speaking; impromptu speaking; employment skills, formerly known as job interview; creed speaking and the leadership ambassador contest. All will be held virtually.

“We concentrated on holding contests that involve seniors or where there is a national contest later,” Hays says.

The entire FFA state staff and current state officers deserve an “E” for effort, regardless of what happens. Other states — Illinois, for example — have elected to hold a virtual convention spread over several weeks because they don’t have the manpower to pull it off all at once.

“Other states are in the same place as we are, and we’re trying to give advice to each other,” Hays says. “We’re going to make this happen.”

Different approach

You will be able to view convention results if you have a computer. You can watch all sessions on livestream via the web. Check out inffa.org for details. Some of the details are literally still coming together as you read this article.

“We’re filming part of what we will include, but our goal is for the state officers to do some of the things live,” Hays explains. “Sessions will be different than before, but they will still recognize our members and officers.”

All delegate sessions will be rolled into one, held virtually, with state officers being elected in the session. The delegate session is slated for Tuesday, June 16, before the convention actually begins. State officer candidates will still go through the interview and slating process. Whether this process is virtual or in person was still up for grabs at press time.

Chapters will register for the convention and receive what Hays calls a “convention in a box.” They can choose one of three levels, each with a set cost. Members can receive buttons, physical programs and more, just as if they had attended in person. Special activities are also planned for members on June 15, before the convention starts.  

What’s unclear is how various chapters will take part. Some may be able to gather and view the convention together, most likely at a non-school site. With superintendents interpreting pandemic executive order regulations differently, some may have to watch from individual homes.

Here’s a big “attaboy” to the FFA state staff and state officers for persevering against long odds to make this happen. There’s no way to replace the excitement, learning and camaraderie that happen when 3,000 members gather live together for three days. At the same time, there may be no better opportunity for FFA leaders to show their creativity than through a virtual format.

It would have been easy to throw in the towel. But FFA members aren’t quitters. Best of luck, and everyone tune in!

Comments? Email tom.bechman@farmprogress.com.

TAGS: COVID-19
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