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National FFA Convention offers great opportunity for teaching

Ryan Hilton
EDUCATE YOUTH: Ryan Hilton took time away from his job managing a swine operation to tell young people from all over the country about agriculture.
This premier youth event deserves to be in Indianapolis.

Hosting the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis is more than a feather in the city’s cap. It’s more than an economic boon, too, even though it’s estimated to be worth some $35 million annually. It’s also an opportunity for Indiana agriculture.

The National FFA Convention was held in Kansas City, Mo., for 70 years before it moved to Louisville, Ky., or Indianapolis. Indianapolis resumed hosting the convention in 2016 and is slated as host through at least 2024.

The fact that the National FFA Center is located in Indianapolis makes the city a natural contender, but there are several other reasons, too. If you attended any activities at this year’s convention, it’s easy to see why Indianapolis is a drawing card.

Whoever said Indianapolis is the crossroads of America isn’t far from the truth. With so many intersecting interstates, and I-69 becoming another important thoroughfare as more of it is completed, the city is accessible by car from a good portion of the country.

More than that, the people of Indiana make some 67,000 visitors — many wearing blue and gold jackets, and many on their first trip away from home — feel welcome. Some host FFA chapters on their farms and in their ag businesses as the students take a day away from the city to learn about Indiana agriculture. Other Hoosiers go to the city to talk with students.

One of those is Ryan Hilton. Transport manager in the pig division for Belstra Milling at DeMotte, Hilton spent a day helping tell FFA members about agriculture. He’s active in Farm Bureau Young Farmers and helped man the Farm Bureau display at the National FFA Expo. Encompassing much of the convention center, the expo has grown in stature and now has a spot in the official name of the convention.

Tell the story
“I’m here to help tell our story, and how we do our best to take care of our animals,” Hilton said. “It’s exciting to be here and have a chance to talk to so many young people.”

Working in the same Farm Bureau booth, Kyle Fogle took a day away from classes at Purdue University to accomplish the same goal. He hoped he could help other young people from around the country see why it is important to belong to farm groups and promote agriculture to the public.

Fogle is a Collegiate Farm Bureau member. These men were just two of countless volunteers who manned booths to greet energetic young people, spreading the message about agriculture.

MEET AND GREET: Kyle Fogle attends Purdue and hopes to get young students from all over the U.S. excited about agriculture. Fogle hails from Decatur County, Ind. Now a Collegiate Farm Bureau member, he was once a North Decatur FFA member. 

For our part, we hope Indianapolis and Indiana people get opportunities to showcase agriculture for a long time. Rumors are circulating that other cities and states want to host the convention in the future, including Georgia, which hasn’t ever hosted the event. The thought of hosting the 100th National FFA Convention in 2027 seems to have upped the ante.

What better place than Indianapolis to host such a prestigious youth event? And it’s not just because Indiana has the infrastructure. We have people who care about agriculture, its youth and the future. Hoosiers stand ready to educate all who come for as long as they come.

Comments? Email [email protected].

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