Getting stuck overnight at the Denver, Colo., airport due to weather delays during a trip to Washington, D.C., was more than a unique team-building exercise for the Washington state FFA officers.
It gave them their theme for this year’s convention: “United.”
“We were on a United Airlines flight and ... as a group we got to experience a lot of new things together,” said Karlee Hansen, Washington FFA state reporter. “That’s when we started to click and bond.”
The theme ties into Washington’s diverse agriculture and the way FFA members come together when attending the state convention, she said.
“Somebody brought it up when we were having our theme discussion in the car and we all started to laugh and were like, ‘Ha, that’s a funny joke,’ and then nobody said anything for a minute,” Hansen said. “We kind of let it settle in and then we were like, ‘Oh gosh, that’s probably it, that’s our theme.’”
The convention is May 9-11 on the Washington State University campus in Pullman. As of April 25, 2,000 FFA members were registered to attend, said Abbie DeMeerleer, executive director of the Washington FFA Association.
State President Sadie Aronson, of White River FFA in Buckley, said she heard during industry tours that high-quality workers are needed, for every role from on-the-farm employees to agricultural educators.
“I think that FFA members are the perfect fit for that,” she said. “We really have the opportunity to make our generation known for being those quality workers. I think that FFA has a really great solution for that.”
Aronson plans to major in elementary education at Seattle Pacific University with a minor in Spanish.
State Secretary Naddile Widner, of Walla Walla, said she loves the variety of opportunities available to members.
“All of those students have a passion for FFA, they have something they love and they’re going to tell you about it if you ask them,” Widner said.
She will attend Oregon State University, majoring in environmental economics and policy. She plans to attend law school and become an environmental lawyer representing agricultural producers.
“As a member you go to convention and it’s amazing — there’s lights and music and it’s a really awesome way to see FFA,” Hansen, the reporter, said. “But just throughout the whole year, I’ve realized how much backwork goes into everything. I’m so excited to see the hard work we’ve been putting in come to life for members....”
Hansen said she is still deciding which college to attend. She wants to become an agricultural teacher and double major in agricultural economics after learning about agricultural banking on tours.
State Treasurer Kyle Johnson, of Yelm, said he is most proud that he’s made a difference in the lives of FFA members.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve visited a chapter and then after I’ve visited, either a member will come up to me in person or message me over social media thanking me and letting me know that with me being there at their chapter, working with them and talking to them, sitting down with them at lunch ... has really helped them personally to want to be more involved in FFA,” he said.
Johnson plans to attend WSU, majoring in agricultural education to become an agricultural teacher and FFA advisor.
For state sentinel Zachary Schilter, of Chehalis, the convention is his “Super Bowl, final drive of the game for the win, underdog” moment to do something big with the team of officers.
“I couldn’t think of any other way in which I would want to do it (than) with them,” he said. “It’s going to be fun.”
Schilter plans to attend Modesto Junior College in California and major in agricultural business.