The Indiana FFA State Convention will still be held in mid-June, as usual, at Purdue University, as usual, but it will take on a new look, largely reflecting the nature of Indiana FFA's new, innovative executive director, Steve Hickey. FFA members and guests should benefit from the changes.
For the past several years, top four proficiency winners in 47 categories were interviewed on Tuesday morning of the convention, meaning the first general session for Tuesday couldn't start until Tuesday afternoon. And due to delays in finishing the interviews to determine the winner in each proficiency category, sessions typically started late.
Hickey revised the plan so that the final four proficiency judging has already taken place. It occurred April 16 at Franklin Community High School. That frees up Tuesday morning for a general session. While there were some hiccups in making the switch for the first time, Hickey believes it achieved two key benefits.
"Number one, our state proficiency winners now have two extra months to revise their application and prepare for national competition," he says. "Indiana was once dominant in national proficiencies, and we believe we can get there again. A big handicap was only having a week between finding out you were the winner and the deadline for sending in the application to the national level.
First-place winners in each proficiency area were notified the week after judging. If a first place winner elected not to go on to national competition this year, then the second-place winner was offered the spot, Hickey says. Otherwise, second through fourth place finishers in each category won't be announced until during awards ceremonies at convention.
The proficiencies are based upon supervised agricultural experience programs, a key part of an FFA student's learning process. It relates to a job or activity, or project that involves raising something, such as crops or animals, that gives the student a chance to excel and learn how to keep records outside of the classroom.
The other big advantage to moving judging of final four proficiency winners off Tuesday morning, Hickey says, is the convention can now conclude with a session immediately after the noon hour on Wednesday. "Last year it was after 7 p.m. before the session finished, and by the end when new state officers were being installed, there were only a few handfuls of people left.
"We want to have that last session, honor our new leaders, and get everybody out of there and on their way home at a decent hour."
This year's Indiana FFA State Convention is June 13-15 at Purdue University.