83rd National FFA Convention Ends with Record Attendance
By Geoffrey Miller
With the final tap of the oversized wooden gavel, the newly installed National FFA Officers concluded another triumphant edition of the National FFA Organization’s largest gathering.
The 83rd National FFA Convention -- held for the fifth time in Indianapolis, Ind. -- drew record numbers and allowed the organization to say one last goodbye to one of its most well-known advisors.
54,942 officially registered for the 2010 convention, an upswing from the 53,473 members, advisors and guests who made the trip to the 'Crossroads of America' in 2009.
Filled with the usual sessions, events and expansive National FFA Career Show, the 2010 meeting also featured the final time that National FFA Advisor and CEO Dr. Larry Case would be stationed by the owl for opening ceremonies.
Case, the national FFA advisor since 1984, is retiring from both FFA and his Washington D.C.-based role as the coordinator of agricultural and rural education within the U.S. Department of Education.
Case himself is a former FFA member from Stet, Mo., and served there as chapter president and reporter.
“My advisor saw something in me,” said Case. “He saw that I had potential, unlimited potential. I didn’t know any better so I took him seriously.”
The longtime advisor addressed his 26th and final convention during the ninth session, just before the election of the 2010-2011 National FFA Officer team.
“When I say agricultural education is the noblest of professions and is important to me, I mean that,” said Case told the Conseco Fieldhouse crowd. “If it’s good enough for my family, it’s good enough for you."
Case, as part of his retirement, also leaves behind the newly created Larry D. and Joy L. Case Endowment. The fund will be utilized for areas dear to Dr. Case, including agriculture instructor training, student leader development and global agriculture career opportunities.
Following Dr. Case's farewell address, the new slate of national officers selected to serve the 2010-2011 year was revealed and approved by the convention delegates.
Those new officers include Oklahoma's Riley Pagett (President), Colorado's Landan Schaffert (Secretary), Michigan's Tiffany Roger's (Eastern Region Vice-President), South Dakota's Wyatt DeJong (Central Region Vice-President), Tennessee's James Flatt (Southern Region Vice-President) and New Mexico's Shannon Norris (Western Region Vice-President).
Prior to the final session, four individuals also received the highest award a FFA member can win for their supervised agricultural experience (SAE). Those four were chosen from 16 total American Star candidates.
Adam Venteicher of Pierce, Nebraska, won the award of American Star Farmer for experience that includes his own crop and livestock holdings.
The 2010 Star in Agribusiness was awarded to Rusty Kenner of Cheyenne, Okla., after the 19-year-old resurrected a family well drilling business, as well as operating a custom hay swathing and baling company.
Dan Greisbach earned honors in Star in Agricultural Placement. The Wisconsin FFA member learned about dairy farming, commodity marketing and farm business management.
Emily Arkfield, from Dunbar, Ne., was awarded the American Star in Agriscience. With a desire to improve swine meat quality, Arkfield studied the effects of Rendement Napole (RN) gene in Hampshire swine.
The American Stars were awarded during the eighth session of the 83rd convention -- also known as the American Degree session. This year, 3,449 American Degrees were awarded.
Aside from the sessions, students and advisors also took part in plenty of other activities.
Thousands of FFA members took part in the National FFA Days of Service that provided community service to central Indiana not-for-profit organizations. Also, country music act Lady Antebellum entertained a sold-out audience inside Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium.
FFA also celebrated the 75th anniversary of the founding of the New Farmers of America (NFA). NFA was organized in Virginia in 1927 and became a national organization for African-American young men in 1935. NFA and FFA merged in 1965. Read more about the NFA.
For more coverage of the 83rd National FFA Convention, click over to http://www.ffa.org/convention, where convention news, press releases and more are available.