Eight students along with their advisor, Terry Hauser, and another chaperone, Pam Knotts, attended the 86th annual National FFA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky. FFA, one of the nation’s largest youth organizations, set a record attendance of over 62,000 FFA members and guests at this year’s convention.
In recent years, the FFA Convention has alternated between the host cities of Indianapolis, Indiana and Louisville, Kentucky. This year’s convention was held at the Kentucky Exposition Center. “This is perhaps the first time Tucker FFA has attended the National Convention”, says Tyler Hebb, chapter president. “If anyone has memories of attending or knows someone that attended the national convention, we would like to hear from you.”
Highlights of the convention were the official sessions, featuring keynote speaker Rick Pitino, head basketball coach of the Louisville Cardinals, and retiring addresses from a very talented national officer team. FFA members from across the nation competed in national career development events and received various proficiency awards. 3,577 members received the coveted American Farmer Degree, an award received by less than 1% of membership.
Over 18 million dollars was raised in support of FFA programs including a one million dollar check from Dodge Ram Trucks for the 10 million views of their Super Bowl commercial, “So God made a farmer” by Paul Harvey. Ram Trucks also sponsored the “World’s Toughest Rodeo” attended by Tucker students. “I loved the rodeo. I’d like to see about organizing an FFA Rodeo,” said Madison Lambert, the chapter’s assistant treasurer. Another highlight of the convention was the enormous career expo featuring over 450 agriculture companies and colleges. Students could check out everything from farm tractors and fence to boots and buffalo farms. “The place was huge and there was so much to see. We would’ve had to stay another week to see it all,” says Lindsey Knotts, the chapter’s treasurer. While in Louisville, the Tucker FFA members also visited Church Hill Downs, Fort Knox, and the Louisville Slugger factory and museum. “It was so cool getting my picture taken at the winner’s circle at the actual Kentucky Derby Track,” said Lenae Cole, the chapter’s sentinel, about Church Hill Downs. “It was awesome to see how the bats are made at the Louisville Slugger factory. “ I wanted to swing all of them,” said Thomas Evans, the chapter’s chaplain.
The week ended in yet another historical event, when a young man from West Virginia was elected to National FFA Office. Wes Davis, from Mason County became the Eastern Region Vice President. It has been 39 years since a West Virginian has held a national FFA office. “I have known Wes for several years and it was an honor to actually be there to see him put on that national officer jacket for the first time. We rushed to the stage to be the first ones to congratulate him,” said Terry Hauser, the chapter’s Advisor.
Those that made direct contribution to their trip are: Dominion Power, Tucker County Commission, Hinkle Funeral Home, Bob Gutshall Insurance, Farm Credit of the Virginia’s, Mountain Mist Florist, Randy Smith, George and Mariwyn Smith, David Ruediger, and all those who supported their elimination dinner and pork barbecue sale.