If you want high school students to learn what you have to teach them, you have to get their attention. Companies with booths at the National FFA Convention and Expo have become masters at figuring how to draw FFA members into their space. As one company person giving away a come-on item explained, “We’ve got to hook them somehow.”
The big hook this year seemed to be in the form of brightly colored, super-sized objects — everything from a souped-up pulling tractor to a souped-up, multi-colored truck that looked like someone spilled several different buckets of paint all over it. Others used a boxing bag that students could take a swing at. Culver’s gave away regular-size servings of ice cream to anyone who would walk through its display. The line was long and constant!
There was a pig scale painted in FFA colors with the FFA emblem. Paul Co. gave it away, but not the digital scales. A digital scale runs up a hefty price tag.
There were also ag engineers from the University of Kentucky operating micro-pulling tractors and a micro-sled, letting FFA members pick from one of several tractors and try their luck at pulling. The idea was to encourage ag teachers to adopt it as part of the curriculum to teach about physics.
Yes, there was education involved in the expo. John Deere ran a continuous game of John Deere Jeopardy, with contestants filtering in and out. Of course, the questions were all about John Deere history and products.
If you were a student, you probably loved the Case IH display. You could walk all around a new red combine and then get the best quality tote bag ever given out at an expo. But only FFA members could get it — not ag teachers, not even reporters. And those young leaders passing them out were tough. No blue jacket, no bag. Chalk one up for the kids: They got something special!
To see photos, click through the slideshow below.