FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.
FFA is a national intracurricular organization with chapters all across the United States. Their initials stand for Future Farmers of America. But, as their website points out, they don’t limit membership to only those who want to be production farmers. There are also “Future Biologists, Future Chemists, Future Veterinarians, Future Engineers and Future Entrepreneurs.”
Each year the FFA organization holds a national convention. This year the convention saw record-breaking attendance of over 60,000 FFA students and advisors. It’s an exciting week of concerts, keynotes, learning, and fun!
For the 2016 convention, Vetericyn team members Courtney Mack, Rina Dakanay, and Eydylene Soto traveled to Indiana to be part of the excitement. They kicked-off our Future Innovators of Agriculture Scholarship, handed out prizes and Advisor Kits, and discussed our new FoamCare pet and equine shampoo.
They returned elated, exhausted, and full of great experiences. Here are some of them…
Rina, Courtney, and Eydy at Vetericyn’s FFA booth. They shared advisor kits, scholarship info, and discussed our new FoamCare pet and equine shampoo.
On FFA expectations:
“I don’t know what I was expecting from the National FFA Convention. I kept hearing over and over from the team that this was a crazy, hold on to your hat’s kind of show but I don’t think that I actually expected it to be that intense this year despite reading statistics that said this year’s convention would have a record breaking number of attendees. I guess I thought it was all hype brought on about by promoters to try and make the show more attractive for exhibitors.”
“Being the FFA Expo veteran on the team, I was ready for an intense week. I was expecting non-stop students, advisors and parents walking the show floor. I was hoping to get a chance to check out some of the other exhibitors and talk to some of the schools about our scholarship. I was expecting the convention to be even larger than last year because of the move from Kentucky to Indiana.”
“I knew we were in for a treat—taking part in the largest youth gathering in the nation, so I had to bring my energy every day to match all the kids’. We were also bringing in Dr. Pol and his wife Diane at our booth for the second time so I was expecting huge crowds for everyone’s favorite Vet. The Pols are huge advocates of the FFA organization, and they were coming in prepared and wanting to engage with the attendees as much as possible.”
Courtney is amazed at the size of the FFA crowd!
On the FFA experience:
“I had an amazing experience at the convention. It definitely was everything that the team said it would be and more! It was a whirlwind for the entire show but I wouldn’t have asked for it to be any other way. I had the opportunity to interact with hundreds of attendees, parents and students alike, who all shared their love and knowledge of our products with me. I was pleasantly surprised to see how those who weren’t familiar with our product were genuinely interested to learn about it. The culture at the show was so different to what I am used to (being from the city in SoCal). Everyone was so polite and respectful that I am still finding myself addressing others by sir or ma’am.”
“My expectations were pretty spot on. The week is intense but in the best possible way. The energy from the students is contagious! I can’t put into words the hope I have for our country after this week. All the students and advisors are amazing people who are going to push this country forward with their intelligence, hard work and kindness towards others.
I didn’t have much time to walk around the show floor and check out other exhibitors. We each had an hour break on Friday, but the hall is incredibly large and there is too much to see and take in. Honestly, I would love if we could push pause for a couple hours to listen to the band or take in the experience as a whole.
Our booth was also near a karaoke stage! We were all singing “Party in the USA” and doing the “Whip & Nae Nae” dance by the end of the week.”
“It was quite the whirlwind! We were nonstop the entire time at the convention. Indianapolis was abuzz with all of the coinciding events in the area—from the convention halls, to the arenas and stadiums for performances and official elections. This week reaffirmed that the Pols are an incredible, generous couple! They came two hours before their actual appearance –stayed the entire day– only having one (10 minute) break to eat their lunch at our booth. And they were so grateful for everyone who showed up. We couldn’t be more lucky to have them as partners.”
Dr. Pol took a break from the Vetericyn booth to mingle with students.
Most memorable moment:
“I would have to say that the most memorable moment for me was seeing the reaction on people’s faces when we told them Dr. Pol would be at our booth. It was such a contagious excitement that you couldn’t help but smile as wide as you could and get excited with them.”
“On Thursday morning we were escorting Dr. and Mrs. Pol to our booth. We had just come in from the rain and a man and woman, in military dress, held the door open for us. Shortly after the expo opened, the same man and woman came to our booth. They both got sooooooooo excited to see Dr. Pol and stopped to take some photos. Little did they know they had already met him earlier. Their facial expressions were priceless!”
“It was touching to know we were making some of their dreams come true—some even waited 2 ½ hours in line to meet the Pols. A few students were in tears because to them, Dr. Pol was their idol, their reason to want to become a Veterinarian. They were just so grateful that he was there for them.”
Tips for the unsuspecting who may attend in the future:
“Is to believe what everyone tells you about this show! It is one of the most intense shows that I have ever experienced, and if I had listened I would have been prepared for it. Also! Check social media before and during the show because you never know who or what you might miss out on meeting or seeing!”
“No matter what anyone says about how busy, fun, energetic, and tiring it is…multiply that by five.”
“Coffee and snacks are keys for survival, especially if you’re an exhibitor.”
3 FFA takeaways:
- Be prepared to think on your feet
- Pack lots of snacks and water
- Don’t give them the sales pitch
- Ag education is one of the most valuable things in our world today, but is often taken for granted. This annual event strengthens the future of ag and reiterates its importance in our society.
- We love Vetericyn, but there is nothing like explaining our product to someone new and having a stranger walk up and tells that person they love it!
- It doesn’t matter if you prepare a week or an hour in advance, nothing prepares you for your first LIVE television experience!
- A whole number of students (and their mentors!) were interested in our scholarship offerings because of their current pursuits of continued education. A little goes a long way.
- FFA students already use and love Vetericyn products. It was nice to see/hear them recommend our brand and products to their friends and acquaintances.
- FFA students are the most passionate, well-mannered and sweetest—they give me HOPE for the future! Also helps that I’m quite the sucker for the “yes ma’ams / no ma’ams”. These FFA kids clearly won me over.