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Leadership conferences offer chance for growth

Chyenne Deno
ENCOURAGING GROWTH: Chyenne Deno loves to watch FFA members bloom during weekend-long experiences at the Indiana FFA Leadership Center. Deno is the current state FFA reporter.
FFA Corner: You can watch young FFA members grow up before your eyes!

By Chyenne Deno

It doesn’t take a lot of time to see a change in a person. Over the span of one weekend at the Indiana FFA Leadership Center, FFA members can blossom in their leadership, friendships and knowledge.

Throughout the past several months, state officers have planned, organized and executed multiple weekend conferences for Indiana FFA members. Members arrive at the center, located near Trafalgar, on a Friday night and stay all weekend until departing late Sunday morning.

One of my favorite conferences, Seeking Opportunities — Achieving Results, also known as SOAR, happens in October, right when the weather is starting to change. We never know if it will be crazy hot over the weekend or freezing cold. This year it was both!

The first weekend never required us to wear a jacket, and the second weekend never allowed our jackets to come off. Despite the change in weather, we still managed to spend a lot of time outside to allow members the joy of experiencing the Indiana FFA Leadership Center.

For many, SOAR is the first conference they attend as an FFA member. This is the first time several FFA members get to really meet the state officers and other members from around state, and come to the FFA center to see everything that is here.

During SOAR, I was in charge of the opening session and closing session. During opening session, members sit with their assigned groups, which means sitting with people they have never met before. Picture yourself as a freshman in high school. You will see that this could seem overwhelming.

How growth happens
From the first moment they sit down with their group, members are thrown into team-building activities that allow them to step out of their comfort zone and bond. Before they know it, Saturday comes around and they’re practically best friends with the people in their group. Members find themselves being able to turn to others within their group for any guidance needed throughout the weekend.

On the last day of the conference, it becomes difficult to gain the attention of the members as a facilitator because they’re trying to take the last few hours they have together to talk with their new friends.

This is the biggest switch I notice from the opening to closing session. During the opening session, the members are shy and nervous about what is going on. During the closing session, members are engaged, and their nerves have faded away.

Taking advantage of this attitude switch and applying it to what is learned at the conference is what allows the skills gained to stick. When we’re comfortable in a situation, we allow ourselves to be vulnerable. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we open our minds up to the possibilities before us.

FFA conferences don’t just deliver information to students, but they also shape the entire learning environment, which in turn allows the students to blossom. From there, they can grow into the young leaders they have always had the potential to become.

Deno serves as the 2018-19 Indiana FFA reporter. She writes from the Indiana FFA Leadership Center near Trafalgar. The seven state FFA officers live at the center during their year of service.

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