Students from the Hutson School of Agriculture traveled to Louisville, Ky., last week with the values of the FFA in mind.
The 86th National FFA Convention was held at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville and Murray State sent students from various agricultural groups.
Chelsea Daugherty, junior from Morgantown, Ky., represented Murray State by being a candidate for National FFA office.
“The biggest thing that I gained from running for this national office is figuring out who I am and what I want to do as my future career,” Daugherty said. “Even though I wasn’t selected as one of the six winning candidates and the process was a crazy emotional ride, it was really good to have made such amazing friends that worked extremely hard be elected to their respective offices and see their excitement and dedication to this organization.”
The college had a booth that offered attendance and academic information for Murray State in the Collegiate Connection area.
Samantha Anderson, graduate student from Winchester Ky., was one of three women who worked at the recruitment booth during the event.
“We’re here with the Hutson School of Agriculture recruiting students,” Anderson said. “There have been a lot of positive comments from students and FFA advisers about our booth. I really enjoy recruitment and seeing high school students interested in furthering their education.”
Kimberly Bellah, associate professor of agriculture, said she served as assistant superintendent for the National FFA Creed Career Development Event.
“We always bring eight Murray State students to assist with the Creed CDE and in the last couple of years we have been asked to bring other students along in accelerated capacities because National FFA knows that Murray State has fantastic students,” Bellah said. “I have received nothing but positive feedback about our groups at National FFA Convention.”
The Collegiate FFA team also traveled to Louisville to compete in the Alpha Tau Alpha Conclave. ATA is an organization seeking to promote agricultural education and holds a national conclave each year at the National FFA Convention.
Kimberlie Moore, junior from Hampton, Ky., said that she really enjoyed her time at National Convention and competing with the Murray State Collegiate FFA.
“We competed in the Alpha Tau Alpha convention with other teams across the country in the Program of Excellence event,” Moore said. “This event allows us to showcase everything our FFA chapter has done and also get other ideas from different chapters all over the U.S.”
She also said Murray State had the largest group of non-agricultural education students at ATA Conclave, which is uncommon at most ATA events.
The Murray State Collegiate FFA also sent a debate team to compete nationally.
Luke King, junior from Burkesville, Ky., served as coach of the debate team. He said he felt this group of students was the most disciplined team the Collegiate FFA had ever taken to National ATA Conclave. King said this group put in more than 400 hours of practice and research toward the debate.
“I gained a great deal of knowledge on the potential of students in general,” King said. “These students came a long way from the first day of practice to our day of competition. I’m impressed with their abilities and their passion and desire to do well.”
The National FFA Convention focuses on all types of FFA members.. A room was created within the convention to celebrate diversity and inclusion within the organization.
Six Murray State agricultural education students were selected to run the inaugural “We Are FFA” room at the 86th National FFA Convention.
Cierra Price, junior from Greensburg, Ky., was one of those students. She said FFA members had the chance to engage in activities such as a photo booth and video booth.
“I was fortunate enough to be asked to volunteer in the ‘We Are FFA’ room at National FFA Convention to help students understand the difference between a variety of cultures and how members treat each other as one large FFA family,” Price said.
Taylor Heath, high school senior from Bridgeport, Ill., spent a lot of time in the “We Are FFA” room.
“National FFA Convention is a great experience for everyone with networking possibilities and hearing about other people’s experiences with agriculture,” Heath said. “I went to the Murray State booth and got some great information to take home to my parents when we talk about my next step after high school.”
Heath’s FFA adviser from Bridgeport, Ill., Jennifer Staley, is a Murray State alumna and attended the convention. She said she was impressed with the involvement of her Alma mater at National FFA Convention this year.
Said Staley: “I’ve been out of Murray State for almost eight years, and Dr. Brannon still knows my name and those are the types of things I preach to my students about what is important in their college education.”
Story by Alex Mahrenholz, Contributing writer