April through early May is usually “banquet season” for FFA chapters. Most chapters across Indiana hold a spring banquet, inviting all FFA members and parents to gather, usually in the school cafeteria, to celebrate member accomplishments over the previous year.
Many chapters invite an Indiana FFA state officer to speak at the banquet. It’s usually a time of fellowship and fun, with a sendoff for senior members, recognition of retiring chapter officers and installation of new officers for the next year.
April and May this year were the heart of the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools were closed, and no one was allowed on school grounds in most cases. FFA banquets were canceled.
FFA chapters have found various ways to make up for missing what’s normally a highlight of the year. Recently, the Franklin FFA Chapter held a combination summer picnic and spring banquet at the home of Advisor Alicia Geesey. Situated in a rural area with flowers, animals and a garden, it made a perfect setting for more than 50 FFA members, parents and guests to gather and enjoy a cookout, followed by a modified banquet program.
The back-porch deck of the advisor’s historic brick farmhouse became the stage for the retiring officers to begin the meeting, and later to install the new officers. Geesey is assisted by her FFA co-advisor, her father, Dan Batta.
Both Greenhand and Chapter degree members received their pins, and participants in contests and judging contests were recognized. The chapter’s FFA Creed representative and freshman public speaking contestant delivered the Creed and a speech to the crowd.
Perhaps the highlight of the evening was the banquet address by Taylor Roy, 2019-20 FFA state reporter. For Roy, it was coming home. She was a Franklin FFA member and chapter president before becoming a state officer.
“I finally was able to share the banquet speech I prepared for this spring,” she says. “This was the only time I could deliver it. All the other banquets where I was scheduled to speak were canceled. It felt great coming back to give it here.”