The Nebraska State FFA convention is a place where FFA members from across the state gather to compete in various events, receive awards, listen to motivational speakers and participate in leadership workshops.
The 86th convention was held on April 9-11, in Lincoln, Neb.
“FFA Convention is a yearly event where FFA members are able to mingle with others from across the state. Students work hard all year to prepare for Leadership Skills Events, Career Development Events, proficiency interviews and/or state officer interviews. Convention is important to each individual in a different way,” said Robin Jirovsky, the State FFA Advisor for the Nebraska FFA Association.
One very important part of convention is the election of the new state officers.
This year, Paige Dexter of Chambers FFA Chapter was elected as the state president.
“State convention was very exciting and overwhelming. It was a very good experience, and I met some great people. I kind of found myself and what I really was there for,” said Dexter.
She continued, “I was in complete shock when they called my name. I had doubts, and almost starting counting myself out after the first three or four were called. I knew it was a great experience, but I thought I wasn’t going to be selected. I thought I was done. It’s taken a long time to take it in.”
Dexter originally decided to run for state office at last year’s convention.
“I thought this was my chance. I loved FFA, and it changed my life completely. It gave me opportunities. I decided I wanted to get out and show the world who I am and what I can do for the organization. So I thought a state office was perfect for that,” she stated.
Her main goal as president is to connect with the members.
“This year I was really influenced by the state officers. They mean the world to me, and I want to be that member people can look up to, and help others to strive to be better. I want to help get that fire lite under them,” Dexter explained.
FFA changed her life because she saw that she could have a career in agriculture.
“Growing up, I have always been involved in ag. Not until I had an ag class two years ago, though, did I realized I could be in ag for the rest of my life. I had thought that farming and ranching was a man’s job. I had that chance to realize there is opportunity in agriculture, and that changed my life and my perspective. I will be forever grateful for the opportunities that I’ve had,” she said.
She believes that FFA has helped develop her as a person.
“FFA teaches so many life skills from careers to being a leader to serving others. It creates good people. If more people were involved, it could make the world a better place. Leadership is very beneficial to students at any age. Kids can continue to expand on and learn and grow from FFA,” Dexter stated.
Nearly 4,000 members attended the convention, and a total of 488 State FFA Degrees were award to FFA members, which is the highest degree the state can bestow upon its members.
The State Stars were also recognized.
The Star Agribusiness winner was Kayla Bouska, a member of the Stuart FFA Chapter. Bouska’s SAE involves growing ornamental corn and birdhouse gourds used for year-round decorations. She also grows different types of vegetables for family and community members. She plans to attend Northeast Community College and major in radiology technology. Her FFA advisors are Patty Hanzlik and Monty Larsen.
The Star Placement winner was Ben Rice, a member of the Norris FFA Chapter. Rice’s SAE includes managing the family’s dairy compost operation. He developed skills in dairy herd management, balancing feed rations, and creating nutrient-rich soil amendments. He plans to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and major in mechanized systems management. His FFA advisors are Kristyn Harms and Doug Malone.
The Star Agriscience winner was Brooke Pieke, a member of the Newman Grove FFA Chapter. Her SAE included studying till and no-till farming practices and expanded into water quality conservation research. Pieke used duckweed to extract nitrates out of water to lower nitrate levels safe for human consumption and utilized a colorimeter and dissolved oxygen probe. She plans to attend Drexel University as a pre-medicine major. Her FFA advisor is Kylie Sweeter.
The Star Production winner was Alyssa Hambleton, a member of the Fullerton FFA Chapter. Hambelton’s SAE includes 103 dairy goats, 40 bred ewes, and 39 cow calf pairs. She provides a complete and balanced feed ration for her cattle, sheep, and goats along with basic veterinary practices. She plans to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and major in agribusiness and minor in animal science. Hambelton’s FFA advisor is Kevin Wetovick.
The FFA advisers of the year were Ken Malone of the Palmyra Chapter, and Kevin Wetovick of the Fullerton FFA chapter.
There were also three new FFA chapters that were chartered, and that included chapters in Arcadia, Chadron and Sterling.
The convention did feature a few new events this year.
“We added Hall of Chapters. This is an opportunity for students to promote their local chapter with a creative, educational and appealing display,” said Jirovsky.
She continued, “We also added a People in Agriculture Poster Contest, which is a junior high event. It is an event for junior high students to explore careers in all areas of agriculture. They develop a poster with a collage of agricultural careers and choose one career to write a one page report. The student tells the judge about the one career, highlighting job description, benefits, salary, educational needs, and the opportunity to grow within the career.” ❖