By: Ramona Petrosky and the RHD Team
Many families are gearing up to send their teens to FFA State Convention this summer, a highlight of the year for young people. Here are a few things to consider whether you’re an old experienced hand at sending your kids off to convention or a relative newbie with many questions. These tips and tricks will help make your young FFA member’s experience amazing:
- First time Moms and Dads… chill. Your Ag teachers have likely taken hundreds of kids on overnight trips. They got this. Don’t be clingy. Let your kids soar!
- Be on time. Know your group’s schedule and be prompt. “Early is On Time, On Time is Late, and Late is LEFT!”
- Triple check to make sure you have all the elements of your official dress. Don’t forget the tie, scarf or the shoes! And no, black jeans and black tennis shoes do not qualify as official dress.
- The keyword for girls shoes is “flats”. Leave your spiky heels at home and invest in some comfortable flats for all those miles you will walk at convention. Also, pack extra pairs of black panty hose. Then throw in even a few more extra pair. Nothing shreds hose like long days at convention. FFA veterans will tell you lightweight tights are much more durable than traditional panty hose, but a bit of hairspray or clear nail polish is also indispensable for stopping that run in your hose. (This tip actually came from a male FFA advisor y’all. Voice of experience. LOL)
- Learn to tie the tie boys! YouTube it. Or make really good friends with a girl who will tie it for you. Also remember black socks for every day. Nothing screams rookie at packing for a trip quite like bright white athletic socks with your black pants and shoes.
- Students wear their official dress multiple times during the week so pack more than one set. Usually one or two skirts/pants will be plenty but try to pack a fresh shirt for each day, already ironed and ready to go. Bonus points if you can find a short sleeve or even a sleeveless (girls) white shirt. Long sleeve shirts under that corduroy jacket in summer heat is killer.
- For many chapters, travel to FFA Convention means hours and hours of driving. Bring comfort items: your favorite snacks to enjoy and share and a blanket for example. Definitely invest in a portable charger for phones and earbuds for those long hours on the road.
- Represent! Remember you’re part of a long, proud tradition representing your chapter. It is a great privilege to attend FFA Convention and one that many people never get the opportunity to have. Make the most of the experience. Make it a pleasant and fun trip, but remember it’s business first and fun second. It’s a learning experience. Attend every session and truly listen to the presentations. This is good stuff you will remember for a lifetime.
- Experience! In the words of one of my favorite Ag teachers “Don’t Be A Hermit Crab!” Get out of your shell. Talk to new people and see where they are from. Make new friends. Introduce your new friends to your old friends. Don’t be afraid to bust a move at the dance. Make some memories! Put your phone away, except for pictures… take LOTS of pictures! Remember to take some great group pictures you can share with your chapter and the folks back home. Explore all the exhibits. Bring extra money for fun t-shirts and items you will find for sale in the exhibit hall; you will want some great souvenirs of this trip. Experience and enjoy it all.
- Share! FFA is a team event, y’all. When someone from your chapter walks the stage to accept an award, share the pride and cheer for them loud and proud! It’s a big deal. When someone from a neighboring school gets an award, cheer for them. Shoot, even when someone’s chapter you just met randomly at convention gets an award, cheer for them. Getting the crowd involved is fun, and there is an awesome crowd of thousands at convention! When you get back home, share your experience with others… with your family, with people who support your chapter in sales and fundraising, with people who are new to FFA, and especially with younger kids coming along behind you. Tell them how you were inspired at convention. Tell them the positives and the things you saw. Tell them some of the things you learned about ag and about yourself. Tell them how you’ve never been more proud to be part of the largest student organization in the country. Be an advocate for agriculture and share your pride in the blue and gold!
Do you have some great tips or “must do” advice for FFA Convention? We would love to hear them! Please share them in the comments…