The National FFA Convention and Expo was held Oct. 28 through Nov. 1 in Louisville, KY. The convention is the largest convention of high school students in the world, with this year having 62,998 FFA members in attendance to compete on Career Development Events, Leadership Development Events, the National Agri-science Fair, take agriculture tours in the Louisville area, conduct community service work, to be recognized for a year of hard work and most importantly to learn about the future of agriculture.
FFA members were able to able to visit with approximately 450 vendors representing careers in agriculture and the newest agriculture technology. They were also able to test equipment from some of the trade’s largest brands and talk to over 100 colleges, throughout the United States, about majors offered at their schools. The expo also covered over 100,000 square feet with demonstrations on how to raise animals more successfully, which crops grow best in which regions and what color of tractor really is the best.
Elsberry FFA Officers said the following about their trip. “Agriculture tours are welcomed each year by our members to see how items are made and how agriculture is done throughout the country. Our first tour this year was the Louisville Slugger Factory where baseball bats are built. Each member that took the one hour tour was able to take a miniature bat home with them. The factory has been building bats since 1884 and building bats for some of the largest names from Babe Ruth to over 60 percent of major league baseball players using a Louisville Slugger bat today. The factory is able to take a piece of wood and turn it into a bat in 30 seconds using modern machinery and lathes. Each bat that has ever been made has a template made and stored in the museum for future reference. Most of the bats are made from white ash or maple to make the factory’s 1.8 million bats that get turned out each year.”
Next they headed to Schimpffs Confectionary to learn how old-fashioned candy is made. Schimpffs has been a family owned tradition-making candy since 1891 and still uses many of the same traditions today that were used when the factory first opened. The factory’s most preferred candy is “Red Hots” and “Lemon Drops.”
“During the tour we were able to watch ‘Red Hots’ being made,” explained Sheyana Curtis, reporter for the Elsberry FFA. “First a 15-pound batch of ingredients are mixed together and then brought to a boil. Once hot enough the batch is poured onto a heated table where it will cool until the candy will become malleable. Once the candy cools enough it will become hard enough to cut and pushed through a die where it will punch out the shapes of ‘Red Hots.’ And the best part of the tour was the sampling at the end.”
National FFA Convention is about more than learning, according to Curtis, it is also about being recognized for all the hard work and accomplishments of the chapter and individuals. Sheyana Curtis competed in the National Agri-science Fair where she did research on if processed foods create more flatulent in the small intestine compared to non-processed foods. She received 11th Place in the nation with her project, which took several months of research and development. She also became the first member to compete at the national level since the Elsberry FFA chapter was re-chartered in 2001. The Elsberry FFA Chapter was also recognized as being in top 100 chapters in the nation, along Silex FFA and Troy FFA; an honor that does not come to many chapters, but has belonged to the Elsberry chapter now for the past two-years in a row. Chapters are awarded based on their community service projects, leadership within their school and communities and chapter activities.
“Overall, National FFA Convention was a success and we hope for another successful year through all the community support and the hard work from our Elsberry FFA members,” said Curtis.