By Deb Buehler
Redesigned, reorganized and renamed, the National FFA Convention & Expo has more to offer students and teachers than ever! Rather than just a way to pass time between convention sessions or a place to pick up freebies, the expo is now THE location for purposeful career exploration for students and teaching for advisors.
New name, new resources
With the new name comes a completely renovated website, www.ffa.org/convention. Designed to be more user friendly, the site has sections for attendees and exhibitors. It also reflects the importance of the exhibit hall itself and all it has to offer. Students and advisors can watch the website to see announcements throughout the spring and summer about the convention. In addition “all of our exhibitors will have info on our website,” Bryan Kelley, senior exhibit manager, said. “Attendees can see who will be on the expo floor and map out their approach with students to maximize their convention learning experiences.”
Now organized around the eight career pathways, the expo is designed to make an explicit connection between the career pathways in the Agricultural Education Cluster and the more than 350 exhibitors representing universities, colleges, associations and industry. Students and teachers will find the vendors centralized according to career interest to facilitate “more robust conversation between exhibitors and attendees,” according to Kelley. Career exploration is vital to meeting the College and Career Readiness anchor standards laced throughout the Common Core and Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources Career Cluster Standards as well and addressed in the National Quality Program Standards for Agricultural Education (Standard 2: Indicator 1, Standard 4: Indicator 4, and Standard 6: Indicator 9). All under one roof, FFA members can meet current employees, learn about specific companies and dive deep into what it means to be a part of the agriculture workforce.
In 2009, the expo launched an area called “Teachers’ World.” Visiting companies will be available again to talk with advisors in their capacity as stakeholders in the lives of young women and men. Teachers will have the opportunity to make connections with the latest innovations in curriculum and instructional practices. Vendors offer a variety of experiences including exploration of e-books and apps for teaching agricultural topics, practice in learning laboratories, and demonstrations of inquiry-based instruction.
Beyond the career pathways and Teachers World, there will be an area geared toward alumni with a focus on increasing the dialogue between FFA alumni and potential employers that may be a little outside the traditional industries of agriculture. As an example, Kelley explained that there will be an auto mechanics area. “It started with the growing interest in NASCAR and now includes a focus on automotive career areas including auto mechanics and motor course teams.” For college students seeking internships or first-time job seekers, this is a great place to connect with opportunities.
This year, the convention and expo will also celebrate Hispanic and Latino heritage with Somos FFA, We Are FFA, sponsored by STHIL and Farm Credit as a special project of the National FFA Foundation. Addressing diversity and inclusion are major indicators for excellence as outlined by the National Quality Program Standards for Agricultural Education (Curriculum and Program Design, indicator 6), the Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resource Academic Standards (CS.01.05.03.a, CS.01.05.03.b, CS.01.05.03.c), and the Common Core (English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects: grades six-12, Comprehension and Collaboration). Be sure to check the diversity and inclusion page often for updates on events and activities as convention and expo week gets closer.
Going to the convention and expo? Now what?
The convention and expo website is a great resource to get you started on planning your trip to Indianapolis. Visit the planning webpage for more on housing, fundraising, safety and emergency information, registration, travel, parking and more.