After moving to a virtual state convention in the summer of 2020 due to COVID-19, North Dakota FFA was back in person for its annual convention June 7-10.
“Everyone is super-excited that we’re here in person, but there’s a lot of tiptoeing because it almost feels like a new experience for everyone, since the last time we met was two years ago,” says Aaron Anderson, North Dakota FFA advisor. “The excitement is there, but people are still learning what that convention experience is like.”
As state FFA advisor, Anderson coordinates events, works with facilities and locations, and ensures details are taken care of. “You know, make sure the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed. Make sure facilities are ready and help lead our outstanding agriculture teachers to pull off this major event,” he says. “One person can’t do it all. It takes a large team, and I’m excited that I get to lead and coordinate that.”
“Hot and exciting” is how Anderson describes the 92nd FFA Convention, held on North Dakota State University’s campus. “You pile 1,500 people into a convention hall, with 90% of them wearing blue corduroy jackets; the spotlights are bright; you see that blue jacket go across celebrating a success, and everyone feels it,” he says.
While there, youth networked with other FFA chapters from across the state and participated in competitive events. “We have 18 competitive events, 34 award recognition programs, student workshops, college career fairs and entertainment sessions for students to participate in,” he says.
After each day’s events, everyone gathers in Benson Bunker Fieldhouse for the general sessions. “We celebrate our North Dakota FFA state officers, as well as our students’ achievements in their competitive events,” Anderson says.
One ag teacher eager to have his chapter back at the convention is Bill Zingg, the ag teacher and FFA advisor in Hazen, N.D. “It’s great for the kids,” he says. “There’s a lot more dedication than in years past. They really want to do well, and they worked hard because the expectation was only bringing full teams instead of individuals.”
Zingg had three full teams that will compete, and brought 10 youth to convention competing in ag communication, advanced ag mechanics and farm business management. “It’s great to be back. There was a lot of fear leading up to this, even a couple of weeks ago, not knowing if it was going to happen or not. There’ a lot of positive energy from the students as we arrive and compete on campus this year,” he says.
With all the excitement and activity filling NDSU’s campus, there is one stand-out session that is the highlight for many. “One of our biggest highlights I think is during our last convention sessions on Thursday [June 10], where we elect our new North Dakota FFA state officers,” Anderson says. “We celebrate our outgoing team that spent the last 12 months leading the organization, and bring in new leadership.”
As a student-led organization, the new FFA state officers have a big role in the organization. Award results, newly elected state officers and more information of what happens during convention can be found at nd.ffa.org.