Above: Lexie Streeter (L) and Madison Roberson (R), both of the Waurika FFA Chapter in Waurika, Oklahoma, explore one of the many interactive elements of The FFA Blue Room on Oct. 24, 2018.
More than 400 FFA members and guests flooded through the doors of The FFA Blue Room at noon Wednesday for the inaugural experience at the 91st National FFA Convention & Expo in Indianapolis.
An hour before the first FFA Blue Room session started, students and guests gathered in a welcome room, complete with interactive Microsoft technology, a photo area with handheld props and an opportunity to win a Microsoft Surface.
The FFA Blue Room featured innovative agricultural-based companies and colleges that lined the outer ring of the room, offering students the chance to explore new technologies and strategies in the agriculture industry.
For the two Wednesday afternoon FFA Blue Room sessions, the mission was “Respecting Our Planet.” The first speaker, Rick Ekins, spoke to FFA members about the importance of water conservation and how his company, FMC, is meeting that challenge.
“Farming is a high-volume business from start to finish,” said Ekins, who is the application and innovations platform lead for FMC. “Soil moisture gets that crop going, so from planting all the way through the life cycle of that crop, we need water. We need a lot of water.”
Ekins said FMC has developed a fertilizer application process that applies the chemical-water mixture as a foam rather than liquid, which maximizes that application while saving water in the process.
After Ekins’ speech, students had a half hour to browse booths and explore how different institutions are providing innovation in the agriculture industry.
Chuck Benson, senior manager of market intelligence for the U.S. Ag Solutions division of the BASF Corporation, spoke next addressing the decline of the monarch butterfly population.
“We’re going to talk about how we can stem that decline and, more importantly, how we can increase the population of monarch butterflies and the role that they have in the planet through something we call Living Acres and something as simple as milkweed,” Benson said.
On the topic of “Respecting Our Planet,” Benson said the sustainability of the agriculture industry and the planet comes before everything else.
“We have to make sure we’re doing it in a way that makes sense for a hundred years, not just for five years,” Benson said.
Madison Roberson of the Waurika FFA Chapter in Waurika, Oklahoma, said her chapter decided on attending a FFA Blue Room session to bring knowledge back to their community.
“Innovation is actually happening no matter if you hear about it or not. The problem of not [having] enough but needing to do with little, is actually a big thing that I don’t hear about in little Waurika,” Roberson said.
Dene Dryden is a junior at Kansas State University studying creative writing. An alumna of the Palco FFA Chapter in Kansas, she is serving as a reporter for the 91st National FFA Convention & Expo Newsroom Crew.