State FFA Convention is an annual event where FFA members meet from all over the state to listen to speakers, receive awards for hard work over the past year, compete in leadership-based contests, elect new state FFA officers and meet people from all around the state. The State FFA Convention was held June 4-6 this year in Sterling, at Northeastern Junior College. Cortez FFA had 15 students attend the convention. Some were competing, others were there to receive awards and degrees.
The Cortez FFA parliamentary procedure team qualified to compete at the state level after winning the district competition back in November. Landan Wilson, Tierney Wilson, Laycee Jones, Chantell Ford, Elisabeth Hoch and Jaycee Syra took a written test about Robert’s Rules of Order, gave a 10-minute fast-paced demonstration of a mock meeting and answered oral questions from judges. The team placed in the top 10 in the state, receiving a silver award.
Convention, however, isn’t just all work and no play. The first day of the state convention, FFA chapters are able to compete in a small volleyball tournament to be able to meet new people from other chapters from around the state. Cortez was eliminated in the double-elimination bracket.
In addition to competitions and games, there are six formal sessions that FFA members attend while at the three days of state convention. Each session has keynote speakers that convey deep inspirational messages that can indeed change the way people think in a positive way. Convention sessions also have a retiring address from the current state FFA officers before the new officers are installed. The stories they tell inspire and teach FFA members that everyone can reach their goals and face their fears, no matter what. The state officers reached out to people and told personal accounts that others could relate to, making members understand the message being told.
In between sessions and contests, members have the opportunity to attend workshops put on by local businesses, colleges or others involved in FFA or agriculture. Cortez FFA members attended a tour of Northeastern Junior College, workshops put on by the National FFA president and by John Deere. The convention also has a career/college fair to make students aware of the multitude of careers and colleges that focus on agriculture.
Convention is also where the achievements of the students are recognized by awards as well as the state FFA degree. The Cortez FFA Chapter was fortunate to have nine seniors apply and receive their state FFA degree this year, an honor that is only bestowed upon 2 percent of FFA members in the state, who earn $2,500 from their supervised agricultural experience program as well as meet a substantial list of other requirements as outlined by the state FFA constitution.
The seniors walked across the stage one by one and had the golden charm of the state degree presented to them by the state FFA president. Allison Porter, Kaitlin Whited, Jaycee Syra, Lacey McDonald, Ryan Daves, Aaron McClain, Wiley Kirks, Trenton Gustafson and Landan Wilson all received this honor. Laycee Jones received the District III Washington Leadership Conference scholarship, which allows her to go to the Washington, conference in July, where she will further her leadership development. Landan Wilson was also recognized for receiving a $1,000 National FFA/Ford Trucks scholarship for college. Lastly, Allison Porter was recognized for her achievement in forage production. Allison received a silver proficiency award.
The highest honor bestowed upon a Cortez FFA member was awarded to Ryan Daves. Ryan was named a finalist for the State Star Farmer Award. This award recognizes the efforts of students both for their supervised agricultural experience program and their FFA involvement and knowledge of the agricultural industry.
After being named a finalist, Ryan had to give a presentation about the work he does on his family farm, with his county fair steers and his breeding beef herd. He was interviewed by a panel of three judges, who quizzed him on his understanding of his own agricultural operation as well as his knowledge of complex agricultural industry. Ryan did not win the award, but he placed in the top four in the state. With just over 5,000 FFA members in the state of Colorado, Cortez FFA was extremely excited for Ryan to be named a finalist for the award.
Every FFA member leaves the convention changed in some way. For some, it’s a small change or it can be a large change; regardless, it is always for the better. Members leave with goals for their futures and ways to reach them; they leave inspired and more aware; they leave with their minds cleared of frustrations and instead full of hopes and dreams. Convention helps FFA members all become better leaders as well as followers and gives them the tools necessary to help better the communities they live in. Convention is the culmination of what FFA can do for students. It provides opportunities for growth, recognizes their achievements and helps them learn skills to make them successful. Cortez FFA truly benefited from sending 15 members this year.
FFA Reporter Shandi Fitchett is an Montezuma-Cortez High School student.