The Illinois FFA state officer year is already nearly two-thirds complete, but Rachel Hood, Derek Sample, Levi Maierhofer, Haley Bode and Kate Colgan are not slowing down their service yet.
While the officers’ travels subsided through most of January and early February, they did complete two weekends of Ground Zero Conference and planned to hit the road for some exciting visits.
Ground Zero Conference
About 900 total students attended this year’s Ground Zero Conference, which was held Jan. 27-28 at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and Feb. 3-4 at both University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Western Illinois University.
At this two-day conference, members were led through six sessions which aim to jumpstart their opportunities for premier leadership, personal growth and career success.
The major state FFA officers, section presidents, past officers and 4-H leaders served as small group leaders and several past state FFA officers facilitated the event.
The theme for the conference this year was “outer space” and the conference started with a “Blast Off Session” to prepare attendees for the rest of the conference.
The next six sessions each focused on a different aspect of leadership development, including personal values, roles within a team, understanding people’s different perspectives, opportunities available to students through the FFA, mentors and valuable resources, and goal setting.
Finally, Ground Zero closed with a short session in which the facilitators reflected on everything that was covered at the conference.
Day Of Service
Each year, the state officers lead Illinois FFA in a Day of Service activity, usually paired with state convention. This year, the community service project was conducted amid the Ground Zero activities.
At all three locations, students lined up to create hygiene bags to take back to their communities for people in need of several different hygiene products.
With a grant from National FFA, the officers purchased boxes full of soap, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other products to fill the bags.
With 900 students attending each conference, over 900 bags were filled and distributed across Illinois.
Business And Industry Visits
The team was scheduled to cruise Illinois Feb. 13-17 to visit several sponsors and industry friends.
These visits included stops at Illinois Pork Producers, Brandt, Windy Hill Meadows, National Corn Ethanol Research Center, United Prairie, Farm Credit Illinois, CHS and Cargill.
The visits concluded at Rushville-Industry High School, alma mater of State FFA President Rachel Hood, for a Wellness Week presentation.
On Feb. 18, the Illinois FFA Center was set to host a Parent/Candidate Orientation meeting for any Illinois FFA members planning to run for major State office at the 95th Illinois FFA State Convention in June.
This gave the prospective candidates and their families more insight into the daily lives of state officers during their year of service.
In 1948, the week of George Washington’s birthday was officially declared National FFA Week. This year, the organization’s national celebration spanned Feb. 18-25.
The Illinois FFA officers continued another week on the road to visit FFA chapters across the Land of Lincoln, including charter signings at the Country Roads FFA Chapter in Edwards County and the Milton Pope FFA Chapter in La Salle County.
Illinois FFA was very active on social media during this week, as well, taking part in several of National FFA’s social media initiatives.
Levi Maierhofer from the Seneca FFA Chapter is the 2022-2023 Illinois Association FFA state reporter.