The 90th National FFA Convention & Expo officially starts Wednesday so the city of Indianapolis is now starting to get even bluer than the Colts. Blue jackets are coming from every corner of the United States and Mark Newman, director of the Indiana Department of Tourism says the impact of this convention goes well beyond that of economics.
“It really is about this pay it forward mentality that is perpetuated through this incredible organization, that touches each of the 650,000 lives that are associated with it, and the 65,000 visitors that will be coming to Indianapolis over these next several days,” he said.
As an organization with roots in production agriculture that aims to prepare students for a career in agriculture or related fields, current National FFA President David Townsend from Delaware says the Career and Agriculture Expo is an important piece of the convention experience.
“Different companies and organizations are really looking to hire top talent,” he told HAT. “These companies are looking for a variety of skill sets, whether that’s working directly with production, research, marketing, communications. We’re just excited for them to make those connections and continue those after convention as well.”
Plenty of that talent can be found within the new group of students vying for a position on the national officer team, to be announced Saturday afternoon. Townsend said they all offer the needed skills and qualities for national office.
“I’d say it starts with character and really having integrity as an individual, and then it goes on to other more trainable characteristics. We’re excited for all of the candidates,” he said. “We have 41 this year from around the country to go through that experience and gain leadership skills as they interview for these positions.”
Current Purdue student and Indiana state officer from two years ago, Annalee Witte from Hancock County is hoping to be named a new national officer. Currently, Witte is a sophomore majoring in Agricultural Communications, Marketing, and Sales and minoring in Spanish, Communications and International Studies. She has been involved in a variety of organizations on campus such as Purdue Student Government, Collegiate Farm Bureau, the Honors Society and the Honors College Global Committee. Her future goals include finding a career in agriculture communications and marketing.
“Annalee is an excellent student and continues to demonstrate her dedication to serving others through her work with various organizations, not just FFA,” said Tamara Neighbors, Indiana FFA Association Director. “We are proud of what she’s accomplished so far and wish her the best in her future endeavors.”