If someone were to ask me to describe my experiences in FFA, I would use a few simple phrases: "leadership development," "stepping outside my comfort zone" and "an energy that would rock the world." Although I have very specific memories that each of these phrases refer to, they all come together during the conferences hosted by the Indiana FFA.
On any given weekend in September, October, November and February, the Indiana FFA Leadership Center can be found bursting with energy and excitement from hundreds of young leaders. No matter the distance they’ve traveled or the background they have, each FFA member who enters the gates of the Indiana FFA Leadership Center is looking to develop his or her premier leadership, experience personal growth and set the foundation for career success.
“FFA conferences have helped me to grow a network with other members across the state while teaching me leadership skills that I can apply in everyday settings,” says senior Franklin FFA member Douglas Abney. For Doug, myself and thousands of FFA members across the state, these conferences have given us leadership training, friends and memories that will last a lifetime.
There are four main conferences, each with curriculum specific to an age of FFA membership. By having this specific curriculum, state officers can focus on meeting the needs of members specific to the point of their FFA journey. The four conferences are known as PLT (Premiere Leadership Training), LDW (Leadership Development Workshop), SOAR (Seeking Opportunities, Achieving Results) and FIRE (Foundations In Reaching Excellence).
PLT and LDW develop officer teams. PLT is for district officers, section directors, and state band and chorus officers, while LDW focuses on chapter officers. The curriculum focuses on developing a program of activities, recruiting new members, and understanding each officer’s role and personal goals.
One of my most memorable moments is seeing a first-time conference attendee get on stage at LDW and play a version of the game Hedbanz. As he stepped out of his comfort zone, he immediately gained 160 friends — and instilled in me that it’s OK to be silly sometimes.
Tailored to member needs
The SOAR conference focuses on building younger membership. Attendees range from seventh-graders to sophomores. During SOAR, members discover the opportunities that FFA holds, as well as set goals and learn how to hold a consistent work ethic.
FIRE reaches our older members, and they learn about possibilities after high school, and what they can do now to reach the personal vision they have for themselves. FIRE was the first conference I attended. It truly sparked my interest in pursuing leadership positions within my chapter and district.
Each year over 1,000 FFA members attend conferences at the Indiana FFA Leadership Center. Although leadership development is important, it’s the friends, memories and fun that last a lifetime.
Glassburn is the 2016-17 Indiana FFA state sentinel. She writes from Trafalgar.
Meet Logan Glassburn
Home: Newton County
Chapter: South Newton FFA
Parents: David and Mary Glassburn
FFA advisors: Darrell Allen, Drake Babcock
FFA activities: national soil judging team, parliamentary procedure contest, plan Ag Day for fourth-graders
School activities: varsity volleyball, basketball and track, student council, football manager
Other activities: active 4-H member
Future goals: attend Purdue University, majoring in agronomy
Career goals: position in agribusiness