December 07, 2023

FFA Corner: Illinois FFA members receive honors at national convention

At the 95th National FFA Convention and Expo, held Oct. 26-29 in Indianapolis, nearly 70,000 students, advisers and guests from across the United States congregated in and around Lucas Oil Stadium to celebrate the successes of FFA members from all 50 states, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

At the convention, members are exposed to several opportunities to grow as a leader, to network with college and industry professionals and to positively impact the direction of the FFA for the next generation of members.

In addition to the plethora of workshops students can attend, several general sessions are held inside Lucas Oil Stadium throughout the week, highlighting the national officers, the members and their achievements.

At the Career Expo, hundreds of colleges and agricultural industries set up booths to increase students’ knowledge about all the opportunities and paths they have beyond high school.

The five Illinois major state officers and several section presidents spent the week serving on six committees to improve the functioning of the organization. Each committee was asked to construct three recommendations for the FFA board of directors to discuss and explore.

The Land of Lincoln was well represented during the sessions at Lucas Oil Stadium, where the top teams and individuals were recognized for their hard work and dedication in their supervised agricultural experiences, career and leadership development events and National Chapter Award categories.

National winners from Illinois in the SAE proficiencies included Ty Steffen of Newark FFA, winner in National Diversified Crop Entrepreneurship, and Lizzie Schafer of Taylorville FFA, who won in the area of National Beef Production Placement.

In the Agriscience Fair, three individuals or teams were announced as the top in their respective divisions: Unity-Tolono FFA’s Olivia Shike placed atop Agriscience Social Systems Division 3; from Central Burlington FFA, Samantha Alvarez emerged as the winner in her Agriscience Research Environmental Science and Natural Resource Systems division; and the duo of Greyson Applebee and Gehrig Bunselmeyer took center stage as the victors in their Agriscience Research Environmental Science and Natural Resource Systems division.

Several teams and individuals represented Illinois at the country’s biggest stage, including the Prairie Central FFA’s winning team in the National Dairy Cattle Evaluation CDE and Delana Erbsen of the Eastland FFA Chapter as the top individual in that contest.

The Cambridge FFA Chapter was crowned as the National Premier Chapter in the area of Growing Leaders. This area is one of three categories in the National Chapter Award, along with Strengthening Agriculture and Building Communities.

Every year, six individuals from across the nation are selected at the National FFA Convention to serve as national officers for the upcoming year. Gracie Murphy of the Macomb FFA Chapter in McDonough County was selected as the 2022-2023 national eastern region vice president.

Murphy served as the Illinois FFA state secretary in 2021-2022 and will spend the next 12 months exploring the United States and abroad while advocating for FFA and the agriculture industry.

The Illinois FFA team is in the final stages of visiting nearly every FFA chapter in the Prairie State. Several thousand miles have been put on the FFA’s fleet vehicles during their travels and the impact that these chapter visits have had on students is immeasurable.

At the end of November, the major state officers, section presidents and 4-H leaders will join forces at BUILD Conference at Illinois State University in Normal. At this conference, junior and senior FFA members will spend two days sharpening their leadership and team-building skills.

Following Thanksgiving break, the state officers will attend the Farm Bureau annual meeting in Chicago before embarking on a retreat to begin planning for the 95th Illinois FFA State Convention, to be held in June.

Levi Maierhofer from the Seneca FFA Chapter is the 2022-2023 Illinois Association FFA state reporter.