INDIANAPOLIS — Gracie Murphy, National FFA eastern region vice president from Illinois, shared an update with AgriNews as she prepares for the National FFA Convention.
The 96th National FFA Convention and Expo will be held Nov. 1-4 in Indianapolis.
Q: What can FFA members expect at the national convention?
A: Some things members can expect this year are a jam-packed expo with careers, companies and shops, the FFA Shopping Mall with a ton of new FFA merchandise, general sessions celebrating members’ accomplishments at Lucas Oil Stadium, The World’s Toughest Rodeo, Lainey Wilson in concert, student workshops and many more activities to get to know people from all across the country and celebrate the industry of agriculture.
Q: What are you most excited for?
A: I am most excited to get to meet and be surrounded by so many members who always have a way of reminding me why I believe in the future of agriculture.
Q: Any advice for first-time attendees?
A: My tip for first-time attendees would be to not say no to opportunities and take advantage of everything the convention has to offer you because you never know when you will find something you love.
To add to this question, if I could go back to my first national convention and give myself any advice, it would be to not get so overwhelmed and caught up with the lights and business and craziness that you forget the purpose of the organization, which I think is to make authentic connections with people and learn about the industry that serves as the backbone of America — agriculture.
Q: How has your time as a national officer been? What kinds of things have you been able to do?
A: The national office has been a very meaningful experience. I have been able to travel to 28 states, one other country, about 50 schools, eight state conventions, given countless speeches and workshops, met so many incredible members with inspiring stories, spoken with the U.S. legislatures and spent the entirety of this year advocating for FFA, agriculture and agriculture education while making memories with so many people that I am sure will last a lifetime.
Q: What is a standout memory?
A: Possibly one of my favorite memories was at Camp Oswegatchie in New York. I spent the week in the middle of nowhere with no service — and I loved it!
I got close to the members and state officers there kayaking, singing karaoke and camp songs, participating in campfires and listening to the stories of people there.
It was an incredible experience where I felt I learned a lot about myself and grew as a person, but also got to see other people grow and learn about each other, which is such a heartwarming thing to see.
Q: As you hang up your blue jacket, what are your plans for the future?
A: After I hang the blue jacket for the final time, I will return back to Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. I am not quite sure what I want to do with my life quite yet, but I do know that I want to stay in agriculture and do something with people.
Q: Anything else you’d like to mention to AgriNews readers and FFA constituents?
A: One thing this year has taught me is there is so much value in being genuine, willing to learn and having a heart for what you do.
Through my travels and experiences this year, I realized there was a common theme in people thinking national officers are these perfect, professional people who are experts on everything FFA and agriculture.
Anyone who knows me will tell you I am not the smartest in the room, definitely not the tallest in the room and not the most put-together in the room — but I care. Sometimes I think that gets looked over too often.
The way I see it, I don’t connect with people who come off as perfect in every way, so why would I act like that and risk making authentic connections with people who make them feel valued?
To me, leadership isn’t about being the best at something; it’s about being intentional in making the people around you better.
I’ve been very fortunate to see a lot of amazing things this year and had experiences I doubt I will forget anytime soon, but through it all, I’ve learned there is nothing I value more than being around someone who genuinely cares and believes in what they are doing and isn’t afraid to be real.