Convention brings FFA students to Carson City

A sea of blue and gold inundated the Carson City Community Center on Thursday as members from across the state met for the 71st annual State FFA Convention.

FFA members wear black pants or skirts, white shirts, a blue corduroy jacket with gold lettering and a blue and gold tie.

"The good thing about it is you never have to decide what to wear," said Leslie Small, the national vice president from Kansas. The convention will continue through Saturday.

FFA is a national youth organization of over 450,000 members with a three-fold mission to promote leadership, personal growth and career success. FFA began in 1928 as the Future Farmers of America. However, in 1988, the title ceased to be an acronym and is now simply FFA.

"Agriculture has diversified so much since then," Small said. "One of our biggest challenges we face as an organization is getting people to understand that."

She said that most of the members are not from farming or ranching backgrounds.

"Seventy-three percent of the members live in urban, suburban or rural but non-farming areas," Small said. She said the largest chapter in the country is in Philadelphia.

This week's contests will range from horse and meat judging to extemporaneous speech and parliamentary procedure contests.

The organization offers programs in a variety of areas, including, agribusiness and marketing, horticulture, forestry and computer science.

"FFA is pretty much for anyone," said State President Brian Santisteven of the Silver Sage club in Spring Creek. "It's not just based on farming and ranching."

However, FFA has maintained its foundation in agriculture and that is what Dennis Diegnan, the adviser of the Silver Sage club, said is important.

"No matter what people go into, they need to understand where food and fiber come from because everybody votes and they're going to vote on issues that deal with the production of that food and fiber," Diegnan said.

The organization also emphasizes leadership and teamwork.

"You're going to need teamwork for whatever you do in life," said Angela Browning, a visiting state officer from California. "In FFA, we're preparing them to be successful in any career because we're a leadership organization."

Browning organized a workshop to teach members the importance of working together.

Members had to join hands and lay across one another's laps to form a human table. When one person's legs folded, the whole table fell.

"It's important you work together," Browning told the group. "One person can let the whole team down."

Carson Valley adviser Kristina Moore said the organization cultivates success.

"It provides the county with new leaders," she said. "It's been proven year after year after year that these kids go on to be the next senators and CEOs. It provides a base of students that become the leaders of the future."

Although Carson City does not have an FFA team, Carson serves as the home of the state convention.

"The community center is really perfect here," said Flint Wright, former state officer and national officer candidate. "The hotels here have always been really good to work with us."


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