The 93rd National FFA Convention and Expo kicks off Tuesday. But like many other conventions, the COVID-19 pandemic forced organizers to cancel the in-person event in Indianapolis.
In June, the Indy-based youth organization announced it would conduct a virtual version of the convention.
Since then, organizers have been developing online programming.
“Many of the same things that we did in person we’ll be able to do virtual, “said Blaze Currie, associate director of leadership development for the National FFA. “What’s been interesting is how much we’ve been able to transition to a virtual environment.”
Currie says the convention, which typically draws 70,000 visitors, will still offer general sessions with speeches from top student leaders, award winners will be recognized, and teacher workshops are still available.
“We’ve approached this in a couple of different ways,” explained Currie in the newest episode of the Ag+Bio+Science podcast presented by AgriNovus Indiana. “We had to determine what are some things that that we could do differently, that would be a benefit, meaning things that you can’t do in an in-person event, but you can do virtually.”
One of the newest and biggest draws at the convention has been the FFA Blue Room which introduced students to the newest technology in modern agriculture, and the possible careers that stem from the innovation.
“We want to showcase the students that this is really cutting edge and innovative,” said Currie.
Following last year’s convention, FFA conducted a survey about the Blue Room exhibit. Currie says 98% of those surveyed said they learned about new innovation or technology the students didn’t know existed.
“One of my favorites that a student said in the anonymous survey was ‘I never thought I wanted to be in agriculture until I realized how cool it was,’” shared Currie.
Currie says a virtual convention means the event does not need to be limited to three days. Content the organization has developed will be available well after the convention closes.
“It has been a learning experience and a learning curve for sure,” Currie said to Inside INdiana Business and podcast host Gerry Dick. “We decided as an organization, we’re going to be bold, we’re going to try some things. Maybe not everything will work 100%, but, you know, we didn’t back down and we’re going to continue to try to offer a lot of things, even if they’re challenging.”
Each week, host Gerry Dick conducts conversations with leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs in Indiana’s agbioscience sector, discussing the confluence of food, agriculture, science and technology.
The full podcast will be available Monday morning. Click here for more information on how you can listen.