For over 150 years, Chicago’s Palmer House Hotel has hosted numerous extravagant guests and events, including the Illinois Farm Bureau Annual Meeting, held Dec. 2-6.
Hundreds of IFB members from across Illinois met in the state’s largest municipality to celebrate the state’s agricultural accomplishments over the past year.
In attendance were the five Illinois FFA major state officers and the 4-H Youth Leadership Team and Livestock Ambassador Team representatives to the IFB Youth Education in Agriculture Committee.
The student representatives of the YEA committee enjoyed the conference’s events and were tasked with representing their organizations throughout the weekend.
The nine YEA youth representatives spent Friday evening at the sesquicentennial hotel, meeting with IFB leaders and having dinner with IFB’s Member Services and Public Relations division.
On Saturday, the IFB’s Young Leaders, ranging from ages 18-35, competed in the Young Leader Discussion Meet.
During these competitions, contestants are judged on their knowledge of a predetermined agricultural topic and their ability to work together and share ideas in a small group.
This year’s winner was Ryan Reeverts, who also served as the 2017-2018 Illinois FFA state reporter.
“I felt the Discussion Meet was very interesting,” said State FFA Vice President Derek Sample, who plans to compete in the Discussion Meet through his county Farm Bureau in the future.
“I learned some strategies to help me out there and a little more about how everybody else in the state feels about certain topics. We’re a very diverse state in our agricultural practices, so it was neat to hear what everyone else was doing in their parts of the state.”
The YEA Committee opened the first general session by carrying in the United States, Illinois, IFB, FFA and 4-H flags and leading the Pledge of Allegiance.
Illinois FFA State President Rachel Hood addressed the members of Farm Bureau about how crucial advocacy in action is to the advancement of agriculture.
“We are responsible for tearing down barriers of misconceptions, serving as a reliable source of information, sharing our stories and being our own best advocates,” Hood remarked.
“As we step out into our communities, our local businesses and even the city of Chicago, we are advocating for agriculture.”
IFB President Richard Guebert Jr. then spoke to the assembly about the successes in Illinois agriculture and the importance of the theme for the 2022 IFB Annual Meeting, “Progress Starts Here.”
The committee closed out the evening with a concert from Eddie Montgomery of Montgomery Gentry.
On Sunday, the FFA and 4-H leaders attended the Young Leader Awards Program and the general session in the morning, followed by assisting at the IAA Foundation “All in for Ag” fundraiser in the afternoon.
The fundraiser sought to help support the IFB’s Ag in the Classroom and various other agricultural education programs.
The FFA officers departed Palmer House on Monday morning to visit Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences. At CHSAS, the team received a tour of the school from two of the chapter’s officers.
The Chicago Ag Sciences FFA Chapter is the largest chapter in Illinois and among the largest in the nation.
Finally, the major state officers attended lunch at the ADM Global Headquarters along the Chicago River, where they discussed the symbiotic relationship between ADM as a sponsor and the FFA as a developer of the next generation of agricultural leaders.
The FFA officers have put chapter visits and BUILD Conference in the rearview mirror and are now turning their attention to preparing for the 95th Illinois FFA State Convention.
The officers have an upcoming retreat, where they will set the tone for planning the convention, to be held in Springfield in June.
Levi Maierhofer from the Seneca FFA Chapter is the 2022-2023 Illinois Association FFA state reporter.