INDIANAPOLIS (WLFI) — National FFA Week is officially underway. The week celebrates more than 760,000 FFA members nationwide.
Tri-County Junior Senior High School graduate, Blayne Vandeveer, serves as the Indiana FFA State Northern Region Vice President. He serves alongside seven other FFA Indiana Representatives including Indiana FFA President, Julia Hamblen.
Hamblen said the FFA leaders will be going to different parts of the state to celebrate and educate other about FFA. They have in-person visits, as well virtual visits.
“It’s a time when students are able to celebrate our organization,” said Vandeveer. “As well as educate people who may not be involved in the organization about the importance of it.”
Vandeveer said Indiana has 212 FFA chapters throughout the state of Indiana. He believes the organization serves as an opportunity to educate others about agriculture.
“Certain chapters will have certain events throughout the week to educate the schools that those chapters are housed in,” said Vandeveer. “There’s also the opportunity to do a lot of community outreach, where FFA members can spread good will.”
FFA State President, Julia Hamblen, said throughout National FFA Week there are a lot different events going on.
“This year is especially different because we know a lot of schools are still lenient on visitors, but others don’t want visitors at all due to COVID protocols,” said the FFA State President.
“We’re lucky enough that we were able to open up to in-person visits,” said Hamblen. “But we also got to open up to virtual visits as well.”
Each FFA State Representative created their schedule for National FFA Week.
“For me personally, I’m going to be staying around the area of our leadership center,” said Vandeveer. “So Johnson County all the way over to district seven, which bumps up against the Illinois state line.”
Both of the state representatives are going to use this week to promote the FFA organization as a whole.
They said being a member of FFA has many different positive aspects.
“It really allows students to take advantage of the different opportunities it has and allows them to pick certain areas to focus on,” said Vandeveer. “It also allows them to try new things to figure out what their interest are for later on after high school.”
The northern region vice president says FFA provides a lot of opportunities for members. He believes the organization provide a great learning experience.
“We have stuck true to our roots with agriculture and farmer based with livestock and crops but we are expanding to include more people,” said Vandeveer. “It allows more people to be involved in agriculture and learn more of what we're about.”
Getting more people involved with agriculture is exactly what happened when Julia’s high school started it’s FFA chapter back in 2017.
“My school is pretty big, we have about 250 kids per class,” said Hamblen. “I was very surprised when we had over 400 members within my first year involved in agriculture classes and members that wanted to get involved even though only a handful of us were involved in agriculture.”
Julia went to school in Shelbyville, where she was a member of the Shelbyville FFA chapter.
“It really was eye opening to see all of my friends who weren’t involved in farming what so ever do contest like livestock judging and skillathon,” said Hamblen. “It really showed first hand that you don’t have to be directly involved within agriculture to succeed in the FFA.”
Vandeveer and Hamblen are looking forward to a week filled with educating everyone about FFA.
“There's something I truly believe for everyone,” said the Indiana FFA State President. “Whether you're directly involved with agriculture or not, you can do a lot of pretty amazing things to prepare for your future in the FFA.”