FARGO, N.D. - Every year, FFA has a theme, and this year's theme is Transform. FFA experiences transform all members differently.
National FFA Secretary Victoria Harris came from Florida to attend North Dakota's State FFA Convention, which took place last week in Fargo.
"FFA doesn't just transform members to be the best they can be, but it transforms them into somebody who is able to positively impact their communities," Harris said. "Our society can really tear down people, but our blue FFA jackets transform members into somebody who builds people and environments up."
North Dakota's convention offered a wide variety of events that showcase individual skills and teamwork involvement. From floriculture to advanced agricultural mechanics, the array of competitions attracted hundreds of members to compete.
More than 1,300 members competed at the state convention to take home either a bronze, silver or gold, but everyone's ultimate goal is to obtain a Baby Bison, the trophy given to the highest scoring individual in each contest.
Each competition can provide members with a strong set of successful skills. Extemporaneous speaking can take a shy member and turn them into someone who is able to speak publicly in front of judges, spectators and other members. A member who grew up in a city setting can transform into a dairy showmanship handler. Agricultural communications requires students to think and act like news reporters, social media specialists, website designers and marketing teams.
Current members and past members all have stories to tell about competitions that transformed them from just being in a competition to pursuing a lifelong career. Baby Bison or not, competitions provide building blocks to life.
One of the premier awards for an FFA member is the Star Farmer award. This year's Star Farmer recipient was Cole Ketterling from Wishek FFA.
Ketterling credits his siblings, parents, advisors and the entire FFA community for his success.
"It's a combination of everybody involved that creates healthy relationships that continue to grow. It's these relationships that really make FFA's program extremely successful," he said.
Ketterling has a jacket full of gold pins and, even more important, treasured memories and experiences.
This convention, Ketterling transformed himself into more than just a member, as he decided to run for a state officer position and received one out of two nominations to become North Dakota's state FFA president. Ketterling stressed that being in FFA and being an officer is not about the label, but rather the opportunities.
Retired members, with blue jackets hanging in their closets, active members or people who never joined all have the ability to transform themselves and their communities. North Dakota's 88th annual State FFA Convention gave the future of agriculture the skills to transform.