National FFA Organization’s Washington leadership conference instills importance of growth

Thousands of FFA members from throughout the country are converging on Washington, D.C., this summer to evaluate their personal skills and interests, develop leadership talent and create service plans that will make a difference in their communities.

More than 2,300 students are registered for the 2017 Washington Leadership Conference, the second-largest student experience that the National FFA Organization hosts each year. Created in 1969 and held annually, the conference begins June 6 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel.

FFA members can attend the conference during one of seven weeks through July 29. They will spend the week under the guidance of professionals, counselors and FFA staff. In workshops, seminars and small groups, members will focus on identifying and developing their personal strengths and goals while undergoing comprehensive leadership training that will help them guide their local FFA chapters. The capstone of the event will be a civic engagement activity where participants apply what they have learned to a hands-on activity.

Members will also analyze the needs of their communities, develop wide-ranging and high-impact community service initiatives and implement their plans with the help of their FFA chapters upon return home. Students in recent years have promoted agricultural literacy; brought attention to abuse; collected and distributed shoes to individuals in Haiti; created a hunger awareness plan; and more.

FFA members will experience the history of the nation’s capital and tour landmarks including the Washington Monument, War Memorial, the National Mall, Arlington National Cemetery and the U.S. Capitol, among others. Members will also have an opportunity to participate in congressional visits during the week.

The 2017 Washington Leadership Conference is sponsored by title sponsors CSX, Monsanto, Farm Credit and weekly sponsor Valent. For more information, visit FFA.org/WLC.

The Madison FFA Chapter took on DC a few days early to make sure they got the whole DC Experience. On Saturday June 3rd, 7 Madison FFA Members, along with their chaperones, boarded flight 5011 to Washington D.C. During the days leading up to the conference members visited the National Cathedral, the Holocaust Museum, the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, the American History Smithsonian Museum, the Natural History Smithsonian Museum, and the National Zoo. Students also visited the famous Georgetown Cupcakes and went kayaking on the Potomac River.

On Tuesday, students checked into the Washington Leadership Conference. Through the conference students were able to visit Arlington National Cemetery, the Capitol, the Library of Congress, and the Newseum. Also during the conference students were able to dive deeper into who they were as a person, what their purpose was, why they should embrace diversity, how to be a better advocate for the things they love, and lastly, how they could make a difference in the lives of others one small step at time.

Students were able to learn more so about the issues going on in the world and how even the simplest acts of kindness could help start to solve these issues. Throughout the week students were able to develop Living to Serve (LTS) Plans, which consisted of each members recognizing a problem in their community and planning a solution to that problem that they could carry out. Students came home on Sunday with many new friendships, experiences, and a change in heart.

Those attending from the Madison FFA Chapter were: Emily Painter, Raven Thornton, Molly Clampitt, Danielle Herrin, Mya McGuire, Ashlyn Peterson & Staci Stokes, along with FFA Advisor Joni Fields and Chaperone Cindy Wilson.

The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 649,355 student members who belong to one of 7,859 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization is also supported by 225,891 alumni members in 1,934 alumni chapters throughout the U.S.