About 7,000 people came to Lincoln's historic Haymarket District in April for the 2019 Nebraska State FFA Convention.
That includes advisors, parents, sponsors and students from each of Nebraska's 189 FFA chapters, including five new chapters created during the 2018-19 year — Meridian FFA, Axtell FFA, Elkhorn Valley FFA, North Platte FFA and Stapleton FFA.
This year's state convention also broke some records. For example, 667 Nebraska FFA members received their state degree at the convention this year — a record for the event.
In addition, more than $412,000 was raised by local FFA chapters this year as part of the "I Believe in the Future of Ag" campaign — breaking the previous record by nearly $70,000. Chapters receive 100% of all funds raised, and a portion of a $35,000 matching grant from the Nebraska FFA Foundation.
"It allows our FFA chapters to raise funds for what they need in their local classrooms," says Sarah Mullen, development and marketing manager at the Nebraska FFA Foundation. "It could be for classroom supplies, leadership workshops and programming. It could be for community projects. We know there are a lot of local classrooms that could use that funding."
This also marks the second year the state convention has hosted a food drive as a Living to Serve service project. The drive has grown, with 350 students participating in 2018 and 480 participating in 2019.
These students package meals to be donated to developing countries dealing with malnourishment, and this year, the project packaged 65,000 meals —15,000 more than last year.
"It started with a conversation with Union Bank and Trust,” Mullen says. “They really wanted to do more with the students and have been a great partner to work with on this project. There's a big demand for this project. Students sign up for it, and it is typically filled up quickly."