By Garrett Hawkins
Indianapolis is the place to be this week as tens of thousands of FFA members descend upon the city. My Facebook feed is filled with photos shared by my hometown FFA chapter and others. I can feel the excitement through my phone!
A few years have passed since I attended my first National FFA Convention in 1994 as a freshman in high school, but I remember it like it was yesterday. We loaded the bus early each morning and made the two hour drive to downtown Kansas City to experience the convention and expo. As a freshman, I was wide-eyed spotting the sea of blue corduroy jackets everywhere. I was awestruck watching Andrew McCrea of northwest Missouri give his retiring address as the National FFA Secretary. His message was inspirational and the feeling I had then sticks with me even today.
My fellow members and I brought home more than just pencils, key chains, stress balls and other freebies that week. We came away with fun memories and a newfound drive to find success in agricultural education and FFA. A few years later, I attended the final convention in Kansas City as a state FFA officer and the first convention in Louisville, Ky., as a recipient of the American FFA Degree.
Like many of you, I will experience the National FFA Convention this week through the eyes of ag teachers and students posting on social media. I’m following the Missouri FFA Association’s posts to see how our chapters do in the Career and Leadership Development Events. We are all anxious to hear the retiring address of Missouri’s own Paxton Dahmer, who has made us proud through his service as the National FFA Central Regional Vice President this past year. We’re crossing our fingers for Alexandra Gast of Nevada as she vies for a spot on the 2021-22 national officer team. I’m also proud to congratulate Missouri Farm Bureau’s Foundation for Agriculture director Jill Fansler for receiving the Honorary American FFA Degree.
Our young leaders are back together, and we are thrilled. I hope they savor these moments. They go by fast, but the memories last a lifetime.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Garrett Hawkins, a farmer from Appleton City, Missouri, is President of Missouri Farm Bureau, the state's largest farm organization.