Pella High FFA members will travel to Iowa State University in Ames to attend the 90th Annual State FFA Convention on April 23 and 24. The convention includes the following competitions: public speaking, running FFA meetings, reciting the paragraph long FFA creed from memory, Ag broadcasting, and many more. FFA members who are not competing watch the competitions, and at the end of every day, there is an awards ceremony.
“I really enjoy getting to watch different Ag students from across the state perform in high level competitions. They (FFA members) get to see the best of the state in the different competitions that they participated in throughout the year,” said Pella High FFA Advisor Jacob Bowers.
Pella High senior, Camryn Norton, will be competing in Ag Sales. During the convention, four judges will speak with her. She will have 12 minutes to perform a sales pitch for and answer questions about her product, girths. Girths are belts put on a horse’s saddle. Three of the judges will pretend to be customers, and one will judge how she interacts with them.
To compete at State in Ag sales, Norton first had to go through the process in front of Pella High’s FFA Chapter. Then, Bowers choose her to go on to sub-districts.
“Mr. Nelson and I kind of made that decision together. We thought she had the most put together and organized presentation. Her passion for the horse industry really showed through, and that is what made her the best candidate to represent Pella High,” elaborated Bowers.
At subdistricts, Norton received a gold rating and advanced to districts. At districts, she competed against nine other FFA members and made it onto State. Norton has spent months preparing for competing in Ag Sales.
““I started practicing in January. After I chose the product I was going to sell (Total Saddle Fit Dressage Girths), I worked with Mr. Bowers to prepare my sales pitch. Since subdistricts, I’ve been meeting with members of the community who have a background in Ag or Sales, also Mrs. Jones and Mr. Nelson, to help me refine my presentation,” said Norton. “I’m very comfortable with my product. I feel like I’ve learned a lot about it and like I can answer questions well, but you never know what the judges will ask me, so trying to maintain an actual conversation while selling my product is definitely something I am nervous about.”
Besides the competitions, State Officers will be chosen at the convention. To run for State Officer, an FFA member must be a senior in high school or a freshman in college The 2 day process of running consists of personal interviews, a test, a speech, and holding a conversation with an Ag specialist. This all takes place before the convention. The final 18 candidates will find out they have made the final cut two days before the convention and give a speech during it in front of FFA delegates who will pick who gets the position. Candidates will pull an Ag related topic out of a hat and have 15 to 20 minutes to prepare a speech.
Senior Codi Holdeman is running for State Officer. Thirty other FFA members are running against her. She does not know any of her competitors except Pella High alumni Chandler Jahner.
“It makes me work harder knowing the people I am running against have the same chance as me, and we have all prepared the same,” said Holdeman. “Him [Chandler] and I will just go through the same process, and it is up to the panel who makes the cut.”
Bowers believes both candidates are qualified applicants for State Officer. He thinks Holdeman has the ability talk to and get FFA members passionate about Agriculture while Jahner speaks about Agriculture at a professional and advanced level.
Holdeman agrees with Bowers that passion will help her in the race.
“I am passionate for the organization, and I just want to be that role model for others. Another quality is the leadership and enthusiasm. You need to be enthusiastic about it or nobody will listen to you.”
Responsibilities of State Officer consist of being an advocate for agriculture in the state of Iowa, which includes meeting with Ag leaders and talking to students in Ag classes. State Officers also are the leaders of the State of Iowa’s FFA, meaning they plan FFA events like the State Convention for next year.
Holdeman has been preparing since November by practicing interview questions and doing research about Ag education and general information about Ag in Iowa.
“I feel nervous but moderately prepared. Everyone (Pella High’s FFA Chapter) has been very supportive, and I’ve had a couple of my fellow FFA members sit down with me during ilearns and prepare my interview questions,” said Holdeman.
Holdeman has a strong passion for FFA and wishes to inspire others to be a part of it by being an officer. However, she believes the experience will be worth it even if she does make the final cut or become officer.
“I am looking forward to just going through the process. No matter what happens, I will learn something just from running. I will be able to grow as a person from this and be able to make some close friends with the other people running. I feel as though as I’ve put in enough effort and work for this that I am just gonna go in there and do the best I can.”