Worthington FFA chapter explores ag careers, industry during trip to national convention
JCC FFA team takes sixth place in national Agricultural Technology and Mechanical Systems CDE contest
WORTHINGTON — Thirty-nine members of the Worthington FFA Chapter traveled to Indianapolis, Indiana, last week to join in celebrating the 95th National FFA Convention and Expo.
The event included Career Development Event contests boasting the top teams from every state. From far southwest Minnesota, the only team to advance to the national contest was Jackson County Central’s Agricultural Technology and Mechanical Systems CDE team. After placing first at the Minnesota FFA Convention in April, the team of Zachary Rasmussen, Daniel Stubbe, Joseph Mohr and Keenan Ambrose placed sixth overall in the national contest.
In addition to the national competition, the convention recognizes its stars among proficiency award winners, as well as recipients of the American FFA Degree.
American FFA Degree recipients from this area included Madison Jo Dahna, Mountain Lake; Hannah Fick, Hills-Beaver Creek; Jordan Klarenbeek, West Lyon (Iowa); and Gabe Kooiker, Korinna Thedens, and Trey Vande Kop, all of Central Lyon (Iowa).
National FFA Chapter Award recipients from the region included Mountain Lake, two stars; and Sibley-Ocheyedan (Iowa), two stars.
A great experience
For the Worthington FFA members, the trip to Indianapolis began at 9 p.m. Oct. 25, with an overnight charter bus trip of about 11 hours. Their first stop in Indianapolis was at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where chapter officers kissed the 1909-vintage paving bricks like race winners have done since 1996.
“We looked at their museum and we got to tour the track,” said WHS sophomore Stephanie Dykstra. Her favorite experience during the three-day whirlwind trip was learning the history of all of the places they visited and meeting so many fellow FFA members — including students from the Virgin Islands and Alaska.
After the speedway tour, the Worthington group traveled to the National FFA Convention and Expo, which featured more than 300 career booths, including colleges and ag-related companies promoting education and careers in agriculture, said sophomore Claire Mahlberg. It was that afternoon when a portion of the Worthington group discovered another group from Worthington’s turkey racing rival town, Cuero, Texas. The moment couldn’t pass by without a photo of the members showing the backside of their FFA blue and gold jackets, proudly noting their hometowns.
“We spent three hours at the convention,” said Mahlberg, “and then we went to the Colts stadium for the opening ceremony.”
Featured speaker Tamika Catchings, who spoke about overcoming her challenges as a deaf person to become an Olympic athlete and member of the WNBA, was inspiring.
“My favorite part was being at the convention and being able to talk to all of the people at the booths and all of the other kids,” Mahlberg said.
For their second full day of the convention, the Worthington chapter traveled to Louisville, Kentucky, for tours of the Louisville Slugger factory and museum and Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby.
“It was really interesting,” said sophomore Lauryn Ahlers of their first stop. “We got to tour the factory and see how the baseball bats are made; and they gave us a small bat that we got to keep.”
At Churchill Downs, Ahlers said they toured the site, walked onto the infield of the track and learned about horse racing.
Their day ended back in Indianapolis, where they attended the sold-out Cinch World’s Toughest Rodeo, performed solely for attendees at the National FFA Convention.
“I liked seeing other chapters there from the U.S. and experiencing it all,” said sophomore Tarryn Joens, summing up the entire trip.
The next morning, on Oct. 28, the Worthington contingent was on the road again, this time bound for home, with a stop at the John Deere Museum in Waterloo, Iowa, to break up the trip.
“We got to see some really cool, antique tractors and the first plow model and other stuff like that,” Dykstra said of the stop in Waterloo.