Michigan FFA Convention wraps up with high honors

By Julia Baratta, Freelance Writer

The 88th annual Michigan FFA State Convention was held at Michigan State University on March 9-11 and was a full three days of contests, sessions, friends, speakers, and all things FFA.

Kevin Laue is pictured on stage during the Michigan FFA Convention with 2015-2016 Region III State Vice President Holly Tait. Laue was one of the featured speakers at the convention.

The event began with the State Leadership contests being held throughout the campus. Eleven competitions involving over 130 FFA members were conducted and decisions made as to who would move on to the next level. The next level was held on Thursday morning, establishing the winners. There were two exceptions; the two finalists for the Richard Karelse Public Speaking contest and the top two teams for Demonstration competed on stage for their finals during the fifth and seventh convention sessions respectively. Many of the winners were revealed during Friday’s final session.

Within the convention were seven sessions consisting of a variety of honors being bestowed, retiring addresses from the 2015-2016 State Officer team, voting, contest finals, speakers, and the installation of the 2016-2017 State Officer team. In between the sessions were fun activities like a laser light show, entertainment by the Michigan FFA Band and the Michigan FFA Choir, and a dance.

The FFA members had many opportunities to see old friends and meet new ones as the convention proceeded. The state organization, as well as individual regional groups, offered a variety of activities. An example was one of the Regions hosted an ice cream social after the evening’s meeting on Thursday.

One of the speakers was Kevin Laue with a most uncommon story. Due to his umbilical cord wrapping around his neck and his arm, he has an arm that ends just below his elbow. “It was either my arm or my head,” Laue joked. He has since overcome his disability by playing Division I basketball and graduating as an honor student from Manhattan College.

Taylor McNeel is currently serving as the 2015-2016 National FFA President and talked to the members about “living the journey focuses on fun, challenging, and rewarding moments that happen before the end of our journey, whether successful or not.” She is from Arkansas, had a Supervised Agricultural Experience in goat and diversified livestock production, and will continue her studies in agricultural business after her term as president is complete.

On the campus of MSU, the jackets were seen as the students participated in the 2016 Career Panel learning about career opportunities available for them and checking out the Arthur Berkey Agriscience Fair examining the displays and research by their peers. The convention inspired the students to explore the many options, activities, and opportunities the Michigan FFA organization has to offer.