The National FFA Organization plans to bring members and supporters back to an in-person gathering in October that will feature many of the functions of past conventions.
The convention will include general sessions, competitive events, degree and award ceremonies, an expo featuring a wide array of agribusinesses, service projects, and teacher and student workshops. FFA delegates will also conduct business sessions and the organization plans to host entertainment.
The organization also plans to conduct a virtual program that will live stream general sessions and workshops as well as the “Blue Room,” a recent convention addition that showcases ag technology for students.
“We’ll flex as things change, but we’re going to try and hold as much of our traditional programming as we do every year,” Mandy Hazlett, FFA’s associate director of convention and events, said in an interview with Agri-Pulse. “So that part we’re very excited about, it just might be with some social distancing and some other factors, but we’ll know more in the next few months as we start our planning.”
Last year’s convention took place entirely virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year's gathering is set to take place Oct. 27-30 in Indianapolis.
Hazlett tells Agri-Pulse they’re expecting about 50-70% of the event's normal attendance this year due to a combination of lingering pandemic concerns as well as corporate travel restrictions that might hinder businesses from participating in the event. If realized, that would put attendance at about 30,000-40,000 rather than the roughly 65,000 who typically attend.
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The organization says it plans to follow health guidelines set by county and health authorities as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At this time, COVID-19 vaccination is not a precondition for attendance based on a lack of requirement from CDC and state and local entities.
“Throughout the year, FFA members across the country have shown their resiliency and ability to adapt as we faced new challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic,” National FFA President Doster Harper said. “It is because of their perseverance that we are thrilled to offer an in-person event to our members as we celebrate this future generation of leaders.”
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