INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Thirty-one members of the Versailles FFA chapter left on Oct. 24 for the 91st annual National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, where there were more than 67,000 FFA members in attendance.
This makes the National FFA Convention the world’s largest youth convention. FFA members from all over the United States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands were in attendance. The motto of this year’s convention was “Just One.” Versailles FFA traveled to National FFA Convention on a school bus with the St. Marys FFA chapter.
Highlights of the convention included keynote speakers as well as speeches from National FFA officers. Activities members attended were the career show, a Buckeye Bash Dance for all FFA members from the state of Ohio, Cinch World Toughest Rodeo and even attended a concert of Garth Brooks. Versailles FFA members also were able to tour the Apache Sprayer Plant, Hunter’s Honey Farm and Ozarks Fishery-Goldfish and Koi Hatchery. Hunter’s Honey Farm supplied all the FFA members with their own free bottle of homemade honey.
Many exciting accomplishments for the Versailles FFA took place at this year’s convention. Versailles FFA was recognized as a Three Star National FFA Chapter, the highest individual ranking that the national FFA bestows upon chapters. FFA Chapter President Marcus Berger and FFA Chapter Sentinel Cole Luthman represented Versailles as they received the award.
The Versailles FFA chapter also had the opportunity to compete in the National FFA Ag Sales event. The Versailles Ag Sales team placed first in the state contest, allowing them to move on to the national competition at the national convention. The team consisted of FFA members Deanna Hesson and Dallas Hess and 2018 graduates Jamie Hart and Isaac Gehret. The team had to individually sell trailers, do a group activity and take a written test. While at convention, the team had a press conference and an awards banquet.
The Ag Comm team placed 16th in the nation and was rated a silver emblem team. Isaac Gehret led the team as an individual, placing in the top 50 individuals and was named a Gold Emblem individual. Ryan Langenkamp of Eaton Farm Credit Services helped coach the team.
Along with the success of the Versailles FFA were the six American Degree recipients. The American FFA Degree is the highest honor an FFA member can receive at a national level. From the Versailles FFA Chapter, members who received this degree were Danielle Hesson, Andrew Harshbarger, Kayla Bruns, Mikayla Berger, Taylor Tyo and Clair Schmitmeyer.
Also at the FFA National Convention were the four National Proficiency Finalists. Proficiency awards are based on FFA member’s SAEs. Versailles’ four finalists included Toby George, Jacob Wuebker, Aaron Knapke and Jamie Hart. The national finalists were announced by the National FFA in August and were based upon the proficiency application these FFA members submitted. The application included goals, plans of practices, resumes, pictures, letters of recommendation, financial records and hour documentation. The applicants are then named as Gold, Silver or Bronze Finalists or are named Top Four Proficiency Finalists.
Toby George was a National FFA finalist in Diversified Agriculture and placed first in Ohio. His SAE included job placement at Wuebker Farms, LLC.
Aaron Knapke placed first in the state of Ohio and also had his application sent to the national level. Knapke is a past graduate of 2018, and he competed in the area of Poultry. His SAE consist of a job placement at Knapke Farms working with the chicken.
Jamie Hart also placed first in Ohio and had her application sent to the National FFA Convention. Hart’s SAE is a job placement at WTGR Radio in which she has worked the past three years. She also placed first in the nation, which is the highest award an individual can earn for their SAE.
Jacob Wuebker also placed first in Ohio and was a National FFA Finalist in the area of Swine Placement. Wuebker has a job placement SAE where he works at Wuebker Farms.
Hart, Knapke, George and Wuebker were interviewed and results were announced at the National FFA Convention with Hart placing first overall in the nation.
Along with those four National Proficiency Finalists, Shelbie Schmitmeyer was named a silver rated National FFA Proficiency Finalist in the area of Dairy Placement. Each finalist received a $500 check from their sponsors, and Hart earned an additional $500 for being the national winner.
Versailles FFA members who attended the National FFA Convention were Tori Wuebker, Cayla Batten, Haley Mangen, Sara Cavin, Shelbie Schmitmeyer, Laura Wuebker, Kimberly Winner, Kayla Bohman, Courtney Batten, Melissa Gigandet, Grace McEldowney, Caitlyn Luthman, Ian Gehret, Cole Luthman, Marcus Berger, Jacob Wuebker, Dawson Petitjean Cress, Kobe Epperly, Dalton Hesson, Caleb Fraley, and Toby George and the St. Marys Chapter.
Danielle Hesson, Kayla Bruns, Andrew Harshbarger, Jamie Hart, Isaac Gehret, Taylor Tyo and Aaron Knapke joined Versailles FFA at National FFA Convention.
The Versailles Board of Education allowed the Versailles FFA Chapter to participate in National FFA Convention and Jeff Wuebker, Taylor Bergman, Dena Wuebker, and Danielle Hesson were chaperons.