|By DOUG SCHMITZ
AMES, Iowa — As the Iowa FFA Association officer representing the Coon Rapids-Bayard chapter, Iowa State University (ISU) sophomore Mary Irlbeck will be looking back - and ahead - when she attends the 79th National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Ind.
“While attending the National FFA Convention my freshman year, I was so amazed by the organization and thought that I would never enjoy another convention as much as what I had enjoyed that first year,” said Irlbeck, an animal science/pre-veterinary medicine major.
“But each year, the national convention just keeps getting better and better,” she said. “Seeing all of the blue corduroy jackets, meeting other FFA members from around the United States, participating in the motivational sessions and workshops has definitely left a lasting impact on my life.”
Irlbeck, who recently returned from the Northeast Greenhand Fire-Up, will be joining other chapter officers, and nearly 500 Iowa FFA college and high school students in downtown Indianapolis for the convention.
“I hope to meet more FFA members from across the nation and get to know more of the Iowa FFA members better while we are down there,” she said. “I hope to also gain a new understanding of how the delegation process works at the national convention.”
The Iowa FFA Association will be converging with more than 50,000 fellow FFA members from around the nation, which include 3,055 American FFA Degree recipients.
“From this year’s convention, I hope to gain an understanding of exactly how everything works regarding changing the National FFA bylaws and constitution,” said Jennifer Paulus, the Iowa FFA north central vice president representing her hometown chapter in Rockford, Iowa. “I also hope to learn from members from other states.”
Like Irlbeck, Paulus is also an ISU sophomore and will be reflecting on what got her to this stage in her life as a young agriculture student - both in the classroom and on her family’s farm.
“I remember back to my senior year in high school when three other members [and I were] advanced to nationals in the food science and technology career development event,” she said. “It is such an experience to go there to compete in an event.”
Among the issues Irlbeck and Paulus will raise at the convention is the FFA attire.
“I am very interested in finding what recommendations are made for the female official dress,” said Paulus, who along with Irlbeck, also wants the FFA to become a bilingual organization.
One highlight of Irlbeck and Paulus’ time in Indianapolis will be the group photo.
“It’s always a great opportunity to meet up with all of the other Iowa FFA members when we take the annual ‘Iowa FFA picture,’” Irlbeck said.
As a discussion leader for the committee on American Star Greenhand and Start-up Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) programs for new members, Paulus will get a firsthand look at the leadership role she’ll pursue after college.
“I will help keep order in the room and make sure that all members are heard,” said Paulus, who plans to form her own chapter after college as an FFA instructor to future generations.
At the annual convention, Irlbeck is going to be looking ahead to her future as well.
“Hopefully, my career will involve international agriculture somewhere,” she said. “When I am completely finished with college, I would like to go back and farm, and have my own livestock operation. I also would like to be a 4-H leader and [an] active FFA alumni member when I am settled into my career.”
This farm news was published in the Oct. 18, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.