REDMOND, Ore. - Members of the Oregon Future Farmers of America traveled from all over the state to participate in this weekend's convention. This was the 89th convention and it drew thousands of members to the event, the first held in Redmond.
Thousands of high school students, wearing their blue corduroy jackets, could be found in various activities at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center.
FFA is a student organization for those interested in agriculture and leadership, offering a variety of activities.
"So, things like public speaking, extemporaneous public speaking, parliamentary procedure competitions, awards around classroom proficiency," Neal Lucht, the Oregon FFA president, said Sunday. "There's literally hundreds of different possibilities students can participate in and compete at locally, then regionally, and then at a state level, so this is the culmination of their instructional year in those areas."
This was the first year the state convention was hosted at a facility of this size, and high school students came from all across Oregon. Members participated in a variety of events, from packing food for the Oregon Food Bank, participating in leadership like scenarios, and working with one another to enhance their agricultural knowledge.
A visiting agriculture teacher said she and her students collect and package food from local farmers for those in need, and now show other chapters what they've done, in hopes the service will spread around the state.
"I think this is a super-exciting, project because kids can see that what they're doing is going to make a difference in the world," said Christina Lorenz, from Perrydale High School, near Amity. "It's a way to incorporate what they're studying, which is agriculture, the foundation of FFA, and take it to the next level by developing some leadership skills and moving that forward. to see their hard work pay off and help others."
The 2016/17 Oregon FFA student president said he hopes to see FFA back on Oregon's budget as a line item, to help grow the organization from 6,000 to 12,000 students. He also said FFA gave him the opportunity to gain a valuable skill set.
"I think FFA is broad enough and diverse enough that is has a home for each of the 6,000 members we have now and hopefully the 12,000 to come," said Student President Shea Booster. "I think a convention like this is a really cool way for people -- not just members, but community members -- to see what the FFA really is and how it impacts members."
The FFA's mission is to help students grow through leadership and career success with agricultural education. At this convention, students were able to to share ideas, celebrate the organization, and learn from each other.
"To its members, it is a home, it is a family and it is a calling to do something bigger than yourself," Booster said. "It's really about letting FFA members know it's okay to be yourself and be who you truly want to be, and not have to sacrifice who you are to appease somebody else."
This year's event concludes Monday, as awards are announced and new officers named. To learn more about the Oregon FFA, visit: http://www.oregonffa.com/