Celebrating Our Successes: Gearing up for National FFA Convention

A record 532 Missouri FFA members will receive the American FFA Degree at the 2017 national convention.

Life-changing! The National FFA Convention & Expo and its sea of blue jackets brings FFA members together from all corners of the nation to one place in celebration of their accomplishments and to find inspiration for their next. From motivational keynote speakers and energetic concerts to fulfilling workshops and a sweeping Expo floor bustling with agriculture education and industry opportunities, you’ll be snapping pictures and grabbing videos of experiences you’ll remember for a lifetime.


GET this year’s schedule online HERE.


A record 532 Missouri FFA members will receive the American FFA Degree at this year’s national convention. Join other FFA members across the state as we celebrate our successes through the Agriscience Fair, Proficiency Awards, National Chapter Awards and Career Development Events.




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The Salt Shaker

Elise Bailey, casual

Elise Bailey, VP

The second week of September I had the opportunity to witness more than 400 members from the Area V FFA Association pack their “toolboxes” full of leadership skills to use throughout the upcoming year. Their eagerness to come and learn new things through workshops facilitated by their area officers sparked some enthusiasm in my own mind to learn new things and grow as an individual.


Thinking about packing their toolboxes reminds me of a time at my grandma’s house when I was younger. I took the task upon myself to fill the salt shaker. Standing over the sink with the shaker in one hand and the can of salt in the other, I began to pour the salt into the bottom of the shaker. My grandma walked in the kitchen and began laughing as the salt poured out the top of the shaker as I filled it up.


This silly image reminds us that it is important to contain the things that are being poured into us in order to fulfill our purpose. Whether at the Area Leadership Conference, sitting in the classroom, or practicing on the ballfield after school, we have so much “salt” to encompass in ourselves. I encourage you to find the ambition to learn new things and embody the salt that those around you are pouring into you on a daily basis.



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One More Mile


Mariah Fox, casual

Mariah Fox, 1st VP

“Come on Fox, one more lap and you’re done!” The word done pounded in my head. My body was aching as I made the first turn of my final lap, I was ready to collapse. My exhaustion was coming from the most dreaded event for any 7th grader. That event was the Presidential Fitness Challenge. This annual event includes physical activities required to pass our P.E. class. The final activity of the challenge is the mile. All the events were easy, except the mile. In previous years, I stopped and gave up on the third lap. This time I was going to succeed and make Presidential. As I made my way around turn two on my final lap I was ready to give up the mile. I slowed to a walk, but then I heard a voice in the distance. It was my P.E. teacher yell, “You can do it”. As she said this, I looked up and saw others yelling the same thing. Their encouragement motivated me to finish the race. I finished the mile and made Presidential Fitness. I realized then that those around you want you to succeed. Your parents, fellow members, and especially your FFA advisors. They all want to make your time in the FFA successful and without any regrets. FFA members, I challenge you to go the extra mile in everything you do. Remember, there is always someone at the end to congratulate you on your success!



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Justin Belew, casual

Justin Belew, VP

I vividly remember the day I drove by myself for the very first time. Most of us have either felt that feeling of freedom or we will soon discover it. The importance of this experience lies most in the type of vehicle I was driving. My first automobile was a 1996 Red Ford Ranger. I can promise you that not only did it have multiple shades of red and pink, but also there was not a single area of the entire truck that didn’t either have a ding, dent, scratch or was missing paint. That truck was at the very least, unique.


When I first drove that truck to school, I remember wondering what my peers would think. Would they make fun of the truck? Would they make fun of me? What I soon realized was that it didn’t matter what anyone said about the truck as long as it accomplished its purpose. As young adults we often question where we fit in the societal norm, but in reality being unique and playing to those strengths are what help us succeed.


We are all unique in our own ways, just like that red truck, and no one can deny the passions and qualities that define us. FFA members, face every challenge with the advantage of your exclusive skill set and be proud to embrace the weird quirks that make you human.


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To Infinity and Beyond


Rhiannen Schneider

Rhiannen Schneider, VP

Growing up, one of my most favorite things to do was to watch the movie Toy Story. I absolutely LOVED the characters, and I longed for the day that my toys would start talking to me. However, the admiration for this seemingly silly children’s movie did not dissipate as I grew older; it instead continued to grow as I did.


When I heard the news of Toy Story 4 being a possible release in 2017, I began to reflect upon what it was that made the Toy Story movies so great. As I re-watched the movies, I realized Buzz Lightyear’s signature phrase, “To infinity and beyond” was something that people of all ages could to relate to.


This year is full of incredible opportunities for Missouri FFA members. From career development events to Supervised Agricultural Experience Programs and speaking contests, the opportunities to help share agriculture’s story are endless. Regardless of what this year might hold for you, each one of us can live like Buzz — to infinity and beyond. Every one of us has the power to go to infinity and beyond in all our chapter activities, leadership events and contests. Although we might not always hit the bullseye, if we strive for greatness and improvement in all we do, we will be successful.


As you tackle your year, remember to go to infinity and beyond in everything you do. In the wise words of American basketball coach, Pat Riley, “Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better.” Be excellent this year.

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Celebrating Summer’s Activities

Abby Bertz

Abby Bertz, President

Our summer together has come to an end, but it was absolutely a blast while it lasted! We enjoyed a week of FFA Leadership Camp, AOI, HYMAX and HYPE. It could not have been more fun!

August was a month to remember for sure. I know that so many of you worked tirelessly with your fair exhibits all summer long to get them looking their best for the one, the only, the best time there is —THE MISSOURI STATE FAIR. Whether this preparation was catering to livestock, fertilizing your garden treats, restoring a prize tractor, or perfecting your ag mechanic projects, I know first-hand the time and effort that it took to get your projects to fair quality. So congratulations, fairgoers and friends!

At the fair, you might have heard of a super cool event that took place on Tuesday, the 15th — Food Insecurity Service Day. Approximately 400 of our absolutely awesome FFA members gathered together at the state fair to pack 50,000 meals for hungry tummies across rural Missouri. Way to embody the “living to serve” portion of the FFA motto, my friends! If you didn’t make it to the fair this year, I hope next year’s fair is calling your name.

This year’s Missouri State Fair brought FFA members countless opportunities and memories, and this school year will, too! This is a new school year full of exciting, unique things. Take advantage of each one. Trust me, you will not regret it.

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Time to Slow Down

Abby Turner

Abby Turner, VP

Spending time at the Missouri State Fair was the perfect way to wrap up a summer of service. From carnival rides to the rodeo, and from corndogs to livestock shows, the fair has something for everyone. This year, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Forgey, a veterinarian who performs health checks on breeding sheep at check in. It appeared as though we had endless trailers to unload. To say the least, I was not excited for the daunting task ahead, however Dr. Forgey seemed as though he could not be more relaxed. He would chat with me while exhibitors were unloading their sheep and half way through the night he said, “Have you noticed how even the youngest kids help prepare the animals? That’s what is so special about the fair.” This comment caught my attention and instead of thinking about the endless trailers, I started to notice how Dr. Forgey went above and beyond to not only check the animals, but also help the exhibitors and their families in any way possible. His easy-going demeanor made the check-in process enjoyable. After spending the evening with Dr. Forgey I had a new appreciation for the hard work show families put into their animals, and how the fair brings everyone together.

As we move forward with this new school year, whether you are a freshman or a senior, I challenge you to take a piece of Dr. Forgey’s patient attitude. Often, I find myself getting too caught up in deadlines and moving onto the next challenge that I forget to take a breath and enjoy the journey. As classes begin and fall activities start packing our schedules, let’s not forget to slow down and appreciate the special moments that are happening all around us.



Many will get caught up in how the year is over and be sad that it has come to an end. I challenge you to instead be eager for the start of a new year.

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FFA Food Insecurity Day


30 FFA chapters with 340 FFA members took time to serve those in need during the Missouri State Fair. MO FFA packed 52,000 meals during the inaugural FFA Food Insecurity Day at the Fair to be used by the Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri. Chapters also helped at the front gate collecting food and manning the water gazebos.

MO FFA packed 52,000 meals during the inaugural FFA Food Insecurity Day at the Fair to be used by the Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri.

Thank to the event’s sponsors for going the extra mile. None of this would have been possible without their support…

Missouri Farmers Care, Monsanto, Brownfield Ag Network, FCS Financial, Feeding Missouri, MFA Incorporated, Boehringer Ingelheim, Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri Soybean Association, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, Missouri Corn Merchandising Council, Missouri FFA Leadership Fund, Missouri Pork Association, and Missouri State Fair

A special thank you to the staff of Missouri FFA for their support and to the state officers for their work.

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Elise Bailey, VP

As this school year comes to an end, and chapter banquets, award ceremonies and graduations are underway, it is easy to have a mindset of reflection. Whether you are reflecting on your failures or successes, the people you have met along the way, or maybe your growth as an individual, keep in mind that even after the ups and downs, you’ve made it! Another year is in under your belt and now it is time to say, “What’s next?”


Many of these events mark the end of the year, but they also mark the beginning of a new year. It is important to reflect on the past, and likewise, look ahead to the upcoming year and all that is in store. Now is the time to set new ambitious goals, and make the plans to meet those goals. Tell yourself one thing you look forward to and more importantly, how you plan to make it the best experience possible. There is no better time to make your dreams become reality, and I have faith that you can make it possible.


Many will get caught up in how the year is over and be sad that it has come to an end. I challenge you to instead be eager for the start of a new year.

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Sparking Passion

Justin Beleu, VP

From the moment we are born, we are asked the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Throughout our lives this phrase seems to haunt us, whether we know the answer or not and becomes increasingly more difficult the older we get. As FFA members this choice becomes more urgent as ‘the real world’ comes into sight. I know for myself I didn’t realize I wanted to continue in a production agriculture lifestyle until my senior year of high school when I began to work more alongside my dad on the family farm. It is a-ok to not know your complete life path from the get-go, but it also never hurts to try new things that may spark a new passion.


A good friend once told me, “Life is like driving down a country road at night, the headlights only shine so far.” As FFA members, we have endless opportunities within this organization to try something new. Whether that is presenting a speech for the first time, traveling to FFA camp during the summer or beginning an SAE, we all have the chance to create a spark that could make those headlights brighter. Branching out is a challenge in itself, but the result could help you discover what you want to do for the remainder of your life. FFA members, I challenge you to do something you have never done before, because you never know the passion it may spark.

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Strive For Success and Missouri FFA Will Rise

Chad Laxton

Chad Laxton, VP

Recently, members all across the state of Missouri came together for the 89th Annual Missouri FFA Convention. Thousands of dedicated Missouri FFA members gathered into one domain for many different reasons. Some may have attended to compete and further develop their skills, while others utilized their abilities to advocate for agriculture. No matter what their task at convention, each member demonstrated an act of hard work and dedication to get them to this event. It is obvious to anyone that in order to reach success, you must provide a consistent amount of practice and dedication.


State FFA Convention has been one of my favorite events throughout the past four years, simply because it is a time that members are rewarded for their success. As the days of this event progress, members have the opportunity to see the idea, “hard work results in success,” come to reality when hundreds of members walk across the iconic convention stage and receive recognition. This is an electrifying time for those being recognized and truly makes me proud to be serving the members of Missouri FFA in the upcoming year.


When the convention comes to a close and the final session is adjourned, members begin to feel relieved and overjoyed that all of the stress leading up to convention is finally over. Although, convention is over we must not forget the hard work we provided to get us to that point. I encourage everyone to never lose their passion and to always remember what this organization has to offer. We must continue to demonstrate the same commitment we put towards a successful convention to all other activities throughout the following year. If we all strive for success and implement hard work into our chapters, the upcoming year will be prosperous and Missouri FFA will rise!

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Walk With Purpose

Elizabeth Knipp, VP

Elizabeth Knipp, VP

“Walk with purpose!” This statement has become engrained in my head ever since I spent a week in Washington, D.C. with over 200 FFA members from across the country for the Washington Leadership Conference (WLC) this past summer. When we began traveling in the city, every member who was attending the conference had to remain vigilant in making sure they stayed within designated groups so someone did not get lost in the bustle of our nation’s capital city. Our group leaders could often be heard yelling, ‘walk with purpose” to ensure we arrived at our destinations safely and did not stray from our path because of distractions presented along the way. Through their reminders, we were able to use this statement as a guide in achieving our goals. As the awaited summer months have arrived, I am reminded of how we can use the phrase “walk with purpose’ and opportunities FFA provides to remain on target with our tasks at hand.


Sometime our plans and goals become clouded because we lose sight of the purpose we have set to achieve. This can be due to setbacks or obstacles which form in our path. However, if we clearly define our gals and ambitions, we will continue to walk with a purpose. Whether by preparing a speech during the Public Speaking Academy or starting a conversation with a peer at FFA Camp, let all actions have a meaningful purpose to ensure you reach your destination during these summer months!

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Share Your Passion

Chad Laxton

Chad Laxton, VP

As FFA members, we believe in the future of agriculture. We believe American agriculture can and will hold true to the best traditions of our national life and that we can exert an influence in our homes and communities which will stand solid for our part in that inspiring task. The last paragraph of the FFA Creed states we have confidence in American agriculture and we can assist in the strengthening of the industry. We can guide our industry and spread the word of agriculture in several ways, one of them is through public speaking.


Throughout the second week of June, I had the opportunity to attend Public Speaking Academy along with my fellow teammates and 65 members from across the state! This was an exciting and informative time, allowing members to utilize their voice and personal experiences to advocate for the agriculture industry. Throughout the two days, individuals from respective divisions practiced speech content, developed organization, and presented through effective delivery. As I facilitated the process, I soon became impressed by the passion and ability of Missouri FFA members!


When we apply our voices and share the message of agriculture with the passion and strength we all possess, we gain the ability to make a difference. Today’s population is three generations removed from farming, therefore those who have a connection to the farm must take the opportunity to inform others. FFA members, share your passion and livelihood with the world and make a difference!

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Ice Breakers

Emily Blaue, VP

Ever since my freshman year, ice breakers have terrified me. The idea of meeting new people and making myself available to their judgement and opinions scared me. I lacked the confidence in myself when it came to others’ ideas about me. While in FFA, I have gained many communication skills, I still have some feelings of apprehension. Imagine my surprise when I had the amazing opportunity to give a workshop to area officers on one of those things I had feared. Ice breakers! I worried for many days how I was going to instruct and impact the area officers on something I myself was still nervous about.


The morning I was preparing to leave, I was searching through my FFA file cabinet for some papers I needed. During my search, I happened to find a paper from a past area leadership conference with my name on the top and it said, “My first thought about Emily was…” and different people had wrote nice encouraging things about me. Seeing this paper reminded me, the judgement I had feared when first meeting others was just in my mind.


The next day while giving the Ice Breakers Workshop, not only did I have new confidence but also realized these people were excited to learn from me and held some of the same nervous thoughts as I did. It also seemed to comfort them that a state officer had fears as well. FFA members, sometimes we will be plagued with fears of judgement, the opinions of others or even just the lack of confidence in ourselves. You are not alone and this does not limit you. We must face our fears and take risks. Area Officer Institute (AOI) was not only an awesome place for area officers to grow and gain more confidence but for your state officers as well. I encourage us as successful FFA members to challenge ourselves by taking on new experiences that force us out of our comfort zones. Being an area officer and attending AOI may be just the place for you come next June. So remember, no matter what chance we are afraid to take, let’s all challenge ourselves to “break the ice” and discover new successes!


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First Time Flyer

Mariah Fox, 1st VP

Before the end of my junior year of high school, my FFA advisor approached me and asked me if I wanted to attend the Washington Leadership Conference. I couldn’t believe it! I jumped at the idea of going to a place with over 200 other passionate FFA members from across the United States!


As time passed, the day of my departure got closer and closer and I became more and more excited! However, there was something I had forgot about in lieu of my excitement. Three days before we left, my advisor texted me, “Don’t forget to check the airline website for packing information!” As soon as I read this text, I immediately felt worried! I had to fly in an airplane across the country to Washington D.C. and I have never, ever flown before! What am I going to do? I was scared and unsure of how I was supposed to handle this new situation.


This challenge is something small that I took in a huge way. Sometimes as individuals we worry too much about meaningless activities. We spend time stressing about miniscule problems that really aren’t that big of a deal. Though I stressed out in several different ways, I made it to Washington in one piece. My advice to you, FFA members, is to worry less about the little items and focus on the big, important aspects of life. In the end, there will always be stress in our lives. It is how we overcome the stress and be successful in what we are doing. Just always remember, flying is not as stressful as you think!

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