A downpour during FFA Night at the Biscuits’ Riverwalk Stadium didn’t dampen the mood of more than 2,000 FFA students, advisers, parents and guests who attended the 87th Alabama FFA Convention in Montgomery June 9-12.
The Alabama Farmers Federation sponsored a popular booth where visitors described the meaning of agriculture in exchange for sunglass straps, water bottles and T-shirts. Advisers, students and parents wrote on a chalkboard and shared photos on social media for a chance to win a Yeti cooler.
Teacher Rusty Roden of West Point High School in Cullman County was among those honored as a 2015 Adviser of the Year. He said he was proud to be involved with FFA.
“I grew up on a farm in Holly Pond and was on a livestock CDE (Career Development Events) team in high school, so FFA has always played an important role in my life,” he said. “FFA is one of the best things for teaching morals, values and skills for today’s agriculture and agriculture-related industries. FFA is the premiere youth leadership organization in the U.S.”
Federation commodity groups sponsored seven FFA award contests, and the Alabama Soybean Producers provided T-shirts to FFA members who visited the Federation booth June 11.
After the CDE competitions June 9 in Auburn, students swelled auditoriums as they conducted business, visited sponsor booths, earned banners and fellowshipped in the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Montgomery.
Enterprise FFA battled tough competition but took top honors in the “Best String Band” competition and will represent Alabama at the National FFA Convention in October.
Ariton FFA Secretary Emily Lewis said through all the meeting and greeting, she was excited to grow closer with her fellow chapter members.
“When I think of FFA, I think about the relationships I’ve formed with my other officers,” she said. “It’s a way we get to bond as an officer team and we can take back with us and use at Ariton.”
Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell and Federation National Legislative Programs Director Mitt Walker were awarded Honorary State FFA degrees, the highest recognition for non-members.
Federation Young Farmers Director and former state and national FFA officer Jennifer Himburg said seeing the positivity and discipline FFA students exhibit gives her faith in the future of Alabama agriculture.
“FFA conventions are a whirlwind of energy and excitement that are akin to none other,” Himburg said. “You’re running into old friends but still making new friends, and after the workshops, booths and competitions, you realize how much you’ve grown in such a short amount of time.”