Taking Convention Back to the Classroom

FFA advisors find ways to keep the convention spirit alive

By Kelliann Blazek


INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 22, 2010)---FFA members are psyched, enthusiastic and motivated when they attend sessions at the national convention. But often times, that motivation is soon forgotten or lost upon arrival home.


This year, the convention guidebook included “Questions for the Classroom” at the end of each session. This was just one way for FFA advisors to take convention back to their classrooms.


Renee Durham, National FFA education specialist, developed the “Questions in the Classroom” idea in an attempt to capture the ideas and enthusiasm in sessions. The questions relate to key messages and highlights of the sessions. Durham said teachers can use the questions immediately after the session, on the trip home, or in the classroom. It’s all about application.


“It’s easy to attend a session and be really into it,” Durham said. “In the midst of the excitement, you might leave here and forget about what you saw or heard or thought about. There are a lot of things that happen during convention sessions that have application outside of the session for students.”


Many of the questions relate to retiring addresses or speeches that can be viewed at ffa.org. Durham suggested teachers show these videos in class and use the questions to initiate discussion afterwards.


Jan Hildebrandt, Eau Claire Memorial FFA Advisor, has attended 21 national FFA conventions. She and her students create PowerPoints after the national convention to share with their peers in the classroom and use for FFA recruitment.  Six students from the chapter attended national convention and 125 kids will go through her classes this semester.


Hildebrandt has also participated in the interactive teacher classroom workshops for many years. The last two years have been the best years for useful workshops, she said.


“This year I went to a session on immunology for dummies—that fits me quite well,” Hildebrandt said with a chuckle.


The unfamiliar subjects she learns about at convention will be useful in developing curriculum for new classes.


The breadth of agriculture is exactly why Mark Burdick considers it important for teachers to attend national convention. Burdick is the Housatonic Valley Regional FFA Advisor in Connecticut has attended 20 national conventions.


Burdick gives his students an important assignment during convention. Each year the chapter participates in an exchange with another chapter, so his students scrounge the convention for potential chapters that are interested in the exchange.


His students’ involvement in career success tours during the convention also allows them to gain exposure to large agricultural companies, such as Dow AgriSciences. During their tour, Burdick and his students received educational materials that they will share with students back in the classroom.


“My students never see corporate agricultural companies where they are, so it really reinforces some of the biotechnology that we’re teaching them,” Burdick said.