Washington FFA’s annual convention usually lasts several days in Pullman, Wash.
Not this year. The convention has gone virtual, with sessions streamed online all month.
“We took what’s normally a four-day event and we made it a four-week event,” said Abbie DeMeerleer, executive director of the Washington FFA Association. “So we can celebrate our members, our supporters and our award recipients even more while we’re all at a safe social distance.”
Washington’s virtual convention opened May 4 and will continue through June 1.
A majority of competitive career development events (CDEs) and leadership development events (LDEs) will take place June 10-12. Those awards will be announced the following week.
There are more than 12,000 Washington FFA members. DeMeerleer says the sky’s the limit on how many people can tune in now.
The new format allows more people to participate than ever before, she said.
“When we meet in May in Pullman, historically, we have a subset of our membership,” DeMeerleer said. “Because of this virtual platform ... we have people from all over the country engaging in the sessions that have already kicked off.”
Audience members can check out the proceedings on the FFA’s Facebook page and its official website, https://www.washingtonffa.org/.
A print-from-home guidebook is also available online.
Unfortunately, state officers won’t be able to hand members their awards, she said, but they’ve come up with new ways to recognize them. Delivery of the awards will be delayed until restrictions are eased, she said.
Previously scheduled speakers Marji Guyler-Alaniz, founder and president of FarmHer, and Jesse LeBeau, youth speaker, will give keynote speeches and then engage in live chats with FFA members.
The new state officers will be announced June 1. Typically, new officers are selected through a process that’s part nominating committee and part vote by student delegates.
A clause in the FFA’s constitution also allows the board of directors to appoint state officers, DeMeerleer said.
Candidates will still participate in tests and online interviews, and the board will make appointment recommendations.
“I think everybody’s excited to see and find out who the new six will be to lead us into the continuing unknown of our post-COVID society,” she said.