Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A PSU Teach Ag! view of the 84th Pennsylvania State FFA Convention

FFA Symbol
State Activity Days at Penn State is a time where secondary Agricultural Education students who are FFA members come together in State College to show off their skills in over 20 different Career Development Events (CDEs) while networking with other students and teachers from across the commonwealth. It is a time to make new friends, learn about other CDEs, and see what different chapters do for fun, fundraising and study techniques. FFA state conventions help to keep the agricultural industry close knit. I know from personal experience that meeting different people at State FFA Convention increased my network of agricultural industry colleagues. While at Penn State in the College of Agricultural Sciences, I recognize a lot of people and their chapter names, which I would not have if I had not attended states and been willing to meet new people.

This past June was the 84th Pennsylvania State Convention. Just as any other conference, it took a lot of work and volunteers to make sure that the convention ran smoothly. Teachers from across the state chair different CDEs  and  individuals in the industry, teachers, or college students judge the contests. Penn State Agricultural Education majors, and members of the student organizations Collegiate FFA and TeachAg! Society are highly encouraged to help out during activities week. One student, Cassidy Cheddar, a junior at Penn State, spent her time helping with the Floriculture CDE, where she helped with the identification portion and other tasks that needed done. This work at the State Convention helped her to realize that the Agricultural Education major was where she really belonged.  Cassidy told me that while she was there she talked with some of the FFA members and teachers. She was re-inspired by the students desire to learn and it caused her to reconsider what she REALLY wanted to major in. Cassidy talked to people that she respected in the same major, cementing her decision to return to Agricultural Education.  Carly Schaffer, another junior Agricultural Education major, helped out as well. Carly did not have FFA in her high school and was not exposed to it until she attended Penn State! Her overall impression of the week was that “It was amazing to see how people pulled together in such a mass amount of energy for the common goal of agriculture, it was pretty inspiring! I left feeling mad that my high school had not given me that opportunity.” Carly also had an interesting misconception of the general session in the auditorium, she thought that they were going to go there to worship corn, but after seeing what happened she was in awe with all the different Career Development Events that the students could get involved in.  She left the week feeling less stressed because she felt like the experience helped to guide her with ideas about what her future curriculum could hold. The college students that help out with State Activity Days really get a lot out of the experience as well as the high school students.

As future educators it is important to make sure that everything is set up and well planned for State FFA Convention, but it is also important to be reminded about why all that effort is being put into three simple days. The high school students learn a lot during the week, even if some of them look like they are just goofing off.  Steph Yoder from Central Columbia High School went to states this year to better herself in the Interview CDE. She had never gone through an actual interview before so it was a good experience for her and she learned what she needed to improve on. This can help her out after she graduates and needs to look for a job and go through a real interview process. During the week her favorite part at the State Convention was making new friends from all over the state and she learned “that even though we are all separate chapters across the state, we all have something in common and I think that is something important. In our individual chapter we need to support each other because we are all looking to improve ourselves.”

Samantha Bliss and other delegates discuss state issues. 
Every student has a different experience at the State Convention. Samantha Bliss from Mount Union Area High School has attended States since she joined FFA in eighth grade.  She participated in a variety of CDEs that ranged from Dairy Judging, public speaking, interview and ended her senior year as a delegate on a board to debate issues for the FFA association. “I know that the input that I provided during these meetings helped make a different in PA FFA and am sure that these changes will go a long way toward improving my chapter as well.” She also said that every year she makes unforgettable memories, but her favorite memory from this year’s convention was seeing the new state officer team elected that included six of her closest friends she met over the years through FFA.

The Pennsylvania State Activity days are important to everyone as they allow for personal and professional growth for all involved. The high school students, college students and teachers all learn a little from each other and focus their energies towards making it possible for it to happen year after year.

The 2013-2014 Newly Elected State Officer Team

 To learn more about starting on the path to having a career that makes a positive impact on the lives of students across the globe by becoming an agricultural educator, please contact the agricultural teacher education program at Follow us on Twitter at TeachAgPSU, on Facebook, or on our blog

Jeanne Case
Student Blogger
2014 Dover HS Student Teacher
Twitter: JRose_Case

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