The 85th National FFA convention gets underway in Indianapolis today. It is a chance for Indiana to say both “Hello” and “Goodbye” to 50,000 FFA members from all over the nation. For the past 7 years, Indiana has been the home of National FFA convention; but, for the next 3 years, the nation’s largest youth convention moves to Louisville. At the welcoming lunch on Tuesday, Ted McKinney, with Elanco Animal Health, said having the FFA convention here has been part of a larger vision, “We worked so aggressively to bring this convention to Indianapolis because we wanted to show that agriculture is better than sports in Indiana.” McKinney, who was instrumental in the winning the bid to move the convention to Indianapolis, said FFA helps showcase all of agriculture, “Not just production agriculture, but from farm to fork and all the technology, science, and processing that is part of agriculture.”
Don Villwock, president of Indiana Farm Bureau, told HAT that the Hoosier agriculture community should be proud of how they have helped host the FFA gathering and provided a positive experience for thousands of FFA members, “Indiana agriculture and agribusinesses really stepped up and have been a great host by providing judging and educational tours of facilities around the state.” Villwock says the FFA convention is one of his favorite events because of the energy and optimism about agriculture that FFA members have.
Indiana Director of Agriculture Joe Kelsay having the FFA convention here has been good for Indiana agriculture, “It is great to have a gathering of over 50,000 young people who are so motivated about agriculture that represent so many different aspects of agriculture.” Kelsay says the convention helps more non-farm Hoosiers understand about agriculture and the many different areas of agriculture, “There are young people from all over the nation, from different areas of agriculture including cattle, and horticulture, and cotton.” He said having the convention in Indiana helps showcase agriculture to Hoosiers.
During the welcome luncheon Kevin Wilson, president of the Indiana Soybean Alliance, thanked the FFA for bringing its passion and energy to Indiana. McKinney gave the group an “excused absence” for the next three years and said Indiana would be ready to welcome them back in 2016.