Blanchester-Great Oaks FFA members attend national convention


Blanchester-Great Oaks FFA departed BHS early morning on October 27, headed to Indianapolis for an extended weekend attending the National FFA Convention & Expo.

“As soon as the bus departed from the high school, I could already feel that the trip was going to be nothing short of amazing,” said first-time attendee, sophomore Kimberly Hurst.

As our chapter made its way to Indianapolis, we stopped at Ozark Fisheries in Martinsville, Ind. There, a worker gave us a grand tour of the facilities and farm. FFA members had an opportunity to learn about aquaculture and the history of the fishery, as well as begin to understand the importance and demand of aquaculture in the world we live in.

Eighth-grade FFA member Jenna Pelosi said, “Overall, it was a great experience. I never actually understood that fish farming was an agricultural concept.”

After enjoying lunch at Culver’s, our chapter finally arrived at Lucas Oil Stadium to attend the opening session of the 94th National FFA Convention. During the session, the six National FFA Officers were introduced and proceeded to facilitate the session. To conclude the opening session, our chapter enjoyed an inspirational message by Courtney DeHoff, better known as “Fancy Lady Cowgirl.” Dehoff’s keynote message was about individuals never forgetting who they are or changing who they want to be based on the opinions of others. Overall, Fancy Lady Cowgirl states that, “being true to yourself is the key to success.”

At the conclusion of the session, the National Officers proceeded through closing ceremonies, adjourning the convention hall until the next morning. Our FFA chapter made its way to the hotel, where we would have an opportunity for rest and recreation before dinner. Dinner was held at Cracker Barrel later that evening.

Finally, it was time to conclude the evening at the hotel and rest up for the long days to come.

Thursday was a big day for Blanchester-Great Oaks FFA. To begin, our members had an opportunity to explore the Career Expo and National FFA Shopping Mall prior to the Second General Session, where we saw the National FFA Board of Directors receive recognition from FFA members across the United States.

Blanchester-Great Oaks FFA members Jacob Lansing and Rianna Mueller walked the big stage to receive our National 3-Star Chapter award. This is a huge accomplishment for our FFA members!

To conclude the session, our members witnessed the 2020-21 National FFA Secretary Anna Mathis deliver her retiring address titled, “A Time For Everything.”

At the Fourth General Session, Blanchester-Great Oaks FFA was a top-10 finalist for the National Models of Excellence. Becoming a finalist for this award was derived from the 2020 Program of Activities (POA) implemented by the FFA chapter during the year. The POA consisted of activities such as Glen Thompson Food Drive, bi-annual Blood Drive and Post-It-Note Positivity. Our FFA officers and members work diligently throughout the year to plan and implement activities such as these.

As a finalist for this award, our chapter members Jacob Lansing, Makenna Maddix and Kristen Whitaker prepared and presented a presentation to the panel of judges on behalf of the Blanchester-Great Oaks FFA chapter. These members were chosen based on their experience planning and implementing the activities included in the 2020 POA.

These members, as well as advisor Eric Heeg, stood on stage during the Fourth General Session to be recognized as a top-10 finalist. An overall national winner will be chosen out of the Model of Excellence chapters. Only 3-star high school chapters are eligible for the Model of Excellence awards. To conclude the session, 2020-21 National FFA Southern Region Vice President Artha Jonassaint gave her retiring address.

To conclude the evening, members ate a barbecue dinner served at Barbecue and Bourbon on Main in Indianapolis; Chapter Secretary Gracie Kaehler commented, “Oh my gosh this food is great!”

Friday we had another opportunity to visit the Career Expo and National FFA Shopping Mall before attending the Fifth General Session, consisting of a performance by the National FFA Chorus as well as 2020-21 National FFA Western Region Vice President, David Lopez’s retiring address, with closing ceremonies concluding the session. Members then had an opportunity to relax at the hotel for a limited time before attending the Worlds’ Toughest Rodeo Friday evening.

Saturday morning, members packed and loaded the bus before sunrise. We then attended the American FFA Degree session where three Blanchester FFA graduates, Audrey Heitzman, Jill Hudson and Brighton Morris, received their degree — “the highest degree achievable in the National FFA Organization, the American FFA Degree shows an FFA member’s dedication to his or her chapter and state FFA association.”

The Blanchester-Great Oaks FFA members would like to thank their advisors, Eric Heeg and Matt Younker, for providing the members with this opportunity to attend the convention. A special thank you to bus driver, Tim Wahl, as well as our chaperones for the trip, Jen Kaehler and Lauren Younker. Thank you for dedicating your time to our FFA members and FFA chapter.

Blanchester-Great Oaks FFA had an awesome time at the National FFA Convention and look forward to the next opportunity we have to present ourselves on the national level.

Receiving their American FFA Degrees are, from left, Blanchester FFA graduates Audrey Heitzman, Brighton Morris and Jill Hudson. their American FFA Degrees are, from left, Blanchester FFA graduates Audrey Heitzman, Brighton Morris and Jill Hudson. Submitted photos

Members of the Blanchester chapter of FFA attend the national convention. of the Blanchester chapter of FFA attend the national convention. Submitted photos

By Shelbie Panetta

FFA chapter reporter

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