As doors opened to the 2012 FFA Alumni Development Conference on July 11, attendees were welcomed with familiar faces, sounds of bluegrass music and colorful sights.
The Taste of States reception sponsored by the National FFA Foundation was the conference kick off, providing an opportunity for attendees to proudly showcase products that their states are known for.
Conference goers were well-fed and entertained during the reception and North Dakota won top honors with their spread of chocolate-covered potato chips, sunflower butter, bread and more. With 79 attendees returning to ADC this year and 85 first-time attendees, the reception allowed for new friendships to develop and reminiscing with past acquaintances.
Attendees spent the week learning new techniques on how to reach out to former FFA members and supporters in an effort to become advocates. From keynote to breakout sessions, there was a wealth of information on how to start affiliates, how to adapt to change and how to communicate the message of agricultural education and FFA.
A genuinely moving experience occurred the evening of the pitch-fork fondue dinner, during which members of the newly re-affiliated Twin Bridges FFA chapter were present. The four young men were tasked with telling their story. Their FFA chapter was closed but due to dedicated parents and supporters, it is on the verge of being brought back to life. Over the past year, these students took agricultural classes online and utilized video conferencing to have meetings with neighboring advisors. The chapter currently has eight members and as of this school year will have an advisor of their own.
Students indicated that they were grateful for all the information and opportunities offered online, proudly shared their experiences with ADC attendees and showcased their storyboard that recently won third place at the Montana state FFA convention. Many eyes were misty while they shared their story. When they finished, FFA Alumni Council president Bob Barton presented them with more than $1,000 to put toward the purchase of new FFA jackets; the money was a result of an impromptu collection from the emotional and inspired audience attending the conference.
“It was wonderful to see so many young and energetic FFA Alumni at our conference,” said Judy Beneker from Michigan. “I learned a lot and am appreciative of the changes being made to keep FFA Alumni vital.”
For Earl McQuaig of Georgia, this was his first conference. He said he enjoyed the experience immensely and by the end of the week, he had pages of notes to take back to his affiliate and share.
“It was really revitalizing to be around so many passionate people,” he said. “We are chartering a bus for next year’s ADC in Wisconsin.”
The 2012 ADC was sponsored by Farm Credit Services, Tractor Supply Co., the National FFA Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Keystone/Red Brand as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.
Anyone who was unable to attend the conference can visit FFA.org/alumni and view archived streaming videos and other resources.