Leaders of the Minnesota FFA refuse to let a global pandemic snuff out their biggest celebration of the year — their annual state convention that highlights learning and successes of thousands of student members over the past school year.
After numerous Zoom meetings, online chats, emails and phone calls, student and adult leaders have hammered out details for the Minnesota FFA’s 91st convention, which will be held in virtual format Tuesday through Thursday.
More than 4,000 FFA members and guests were expected to attend in person the traditional April convention. However, COVID-19 and the state’s stay-at-home directive prompted FFA to cancel the annual event and to consider options. They decided that a virtual format would allow them to conduct a portion of the activities that normally take place during the state convention.
Juleah Tolosky, Minnesota FFA executive director, says state FFA staff are excited for FFAers and guests to participate in this innovative alternative of accessing ‘real time’ experiences during the three-day event. Students also will be participating in interactive workshops and panels and receiving recognition in student involvement and leadership activities.
“Changing the format of the event allows us to recognize students before the end of the school year and to eliminate financial or regulatory barriers that may have prevented students or entire programs from being able to participate,” Tolosky adds.
The best way for students and guests to share in the state convention experience is access the Minnesota FFA Convention mobile app through computers or smart phones. Everything is listed on the app — the convention schedule, workshops, speakers, sponsor information and more. The app can be accessed through computer or by scanning the QR code provided in a Minnesota Foundation convention brochure.
The convention, with “Illuminate” as its theme, will feature keynote speeches from FFA state and national officers, as well as the announcement of the 2020-2021 Minnesota FFA officer team.
Paula MohrBEST WAY TO CONNECT: The Minnesota FFA Foundation assisted with the development of the state FFA convention app. Download the AttendeeHub app on your smartphone and search for “Minnesota FFA convention” to link up.
Unfortunately, the FFA Career and Leadership Development events, which are part of a typical state convention, will not be held this year, Tolosky says. However, the virtual format will include award ceremonies honoring individual success in supervised agricultural experiences within agriscience projects, as well as proficiency awards, state FFA degrees and state FFA Stars.
The FFA will also celebrate excellence in community service, agricultural literacy efforts and overall FFA chapter program excellence. Significant contributions of supporters will be honored through the Minnesota FFA Alumni Hall of Fame and Minnesota FFA Foundation recognition programs, she says.
As difficult as it was to cancel the annual convention, Tolosky notes that FFA members stepped up and provided direction on what to do.
“The pandemic and its associated challenges provided an opportunity for the current student officers on FFA chapter, region and state levels to take part in executive-level decision-making and practice servant leadership,” she says.
The Minnesota FFA state convention begins at 8 a.m. on Tuesday.