March 04, 2024

Members discover the opportunities in FFA while unlocking core values

FFA Corner

After meeting over 5,500 students and traveling over 14,500 miles, the Illinois FFA major state officers have completed four of their six weeks of chapter visits.

Each week, the state officers split up to visit one of Illinois FFA’s 25 sections. For five days, the major state officers join the section president and other section officers to lead a workshop at each school in that section.

This year’s visits are focusing on the many opportunities in agriculture education and how these opportunities can unite all of Illinois’ many FFA members.

In the workshop, students are working to open up a lockbox. The clues to the locks are related to the three main categories of opportunities available to FFA members. These three categories are classroom, work-based learning and FFA.

The students are then asked to reflect on what is important to them by coming up with a core value. The students receive a card that they use to record their core value along with a few goals they have to conclude the visit.

After finishing the fourth week of visits, the officers then prepped for an action-packed week at the National FFA Convention and Expo. Illinois FFA members always do a fantastic job representing their state at convention — and this year was no different!

Illinois FFA had many national finalists competing in a wide range of events. By the time convention came to an end, Illinois had six individual winners and three chapter winners. The individual winners were:

• Megan Baker, Neoga FFA — National FFA Agriscience Fair: Environmental Services and Natural Resource Systems, Division 5.

• Jay Bliler, Taylorville FFA — Agricultural Proficiency Awards: Agriscience Research, Animal Systems.

• Kendra Downing, Cambridge FFA — Agricultural Proficiency Awards: Agricultural Sales, Entrepreneurship

• Davis Howell, Clinton FFA — Agricultural Proficiency Awards: Swine Production, Entrepreneurship.

• Chase Hummel, Tri-Point FFA — Agricultural Proficiency Awards: Goat Production, Entrepreneurship/Placement.

• Olivia Shike, Unity FFA — National FFA Agriscience Fair: Social Science, Division 5.

Our team winners were:

• Olney FFA — Trenton Payne, Colleen Steber, Brett Kocher and Victoria Rudolphi: Career and Leadership Development Events — Agronomy.

• Prairie Central FFA — Ellie Drach, Elizabeth Ellis, Grace Lemenager and Hannah Miller: Career and Leadership Development Events — Agricultural Sales.

• Taylorville FFA — National Chapter Awards: National Premier Chapter, Strengthening Agriculture.

Following the convention, the major state officers traveled to the Illinois Farm Bureau headquarters in Bloomington for an industry visit.

At this visit, the officers were able to connect with some representatives from companies like Farm Bureau, GROWMARK, COUNTRY Financial and IAA Credit Union. The state officers got to learn more about these companies and thank them for all their support.

Most recently, Illinois FFA hosted a day of middle school conferences. These newly developed conferences were located at the Southeastern Illinois College campus and the Illinois Central College campus.

The events served to bring together some of Illinois FFA’s younger members and to provide them with a good foundation to find success within the FFA and their future in the agriculture industry.

The state officers are excited for the remainder of the year, with over 600 students attending BUILD Conference at Illinois State University at the end of November, one additional week to wrap up chapter visits and then kicking off convention and spring semester planning to wrap up their first six months of service.

Cooper Nelson from the Canton FFA Chapter is the 2023-2024 Illinois Association FFA state reporter.