Maine FFA Convention Attracts 200 Members and Guests

Pictured: Awards Banquet Head Table:  National FFA VP Ridge Hughbanks, Convention Sentinel Ava Cameron, Reporter Olivia Tardie, Treasurer Alli Kenney, Secretary Camryn Curtis, State Vice President James Hotham, State President Graham Berry.

This year’s Maine FFA (formerly known as “Future Farmers of America”) annual Convention included 200 middle and high school FFA members, assisting judges, helpers and guests from the education and private sectors.  Participating schools included:  Region 4 United Technologies Center (Bangor), Ashland Middle/High Schools, Caribou Technology Center, Central Aroostook Junior & Senior High Schools, Easton Junior/Senior High Schools, Hodgdon Middle/High School, and Presque Isle Regional Career & Technical Center.   Maine FFA chapters include nearly 500 students across the state from Sanford to Caribou, enrolled in courses related to agriculture and natural resources in such areas as agriculture, forestry, horticulture, agricultural mechanics, nursery and landscapes, integrated sciences and others.  The two-day event featured recognition for past year accomplishments, competitions, scholarships and educational tours, with over $10,000 in awards and scholarships presented.

During the Convention Awards Banquet, guest speakers included Dan Chuhta, Deputy Commissioner for the Maine Department of Education, Chandler Vaughan, National FFA Alumni Council Representative, and Ridge Hughbanks, National FFA Organization Central Region Vice President.  Speakers addressed areas related to providing FFA opportunities to as many students as possible, taking advantage of one’s education, and participating in community related endeavors, an important activity of the FFA.  Students were excited to receive awards for their work of the past year, distinguishing themselves in independent projects (“Supervised Agricultural Experiences”), as well as advancing in areas related to technical and community development achievements through “State FFA Degrees” and the “State FFA Stars” program.

Students were excited to participate in events such as Agricultural Sales, Horse Evaluation and Veterinary Science, which allowed them to showcase and further develop their leadership abilities, as well as learning more about a topic of interest.  Educational tours to areas such as UMaine’s Pulp and Paper Process Development Center further enhanced the opportunities available to students.  Leadership and sportsmanship abilities, important to FFA, were evident in bestowing awards such as the Best FFA Chapter Spirit award, this year won by Region 4 United Technologies Center students, Bangor.

The FFA is one of the largest student leadership organizations in the United States, with over 600,000 members, and the Maine FFA Convention was directed by its State FFA Officer team under the leadership of President Graham Berry and Vice President James Hotham, with support from Doug Robertson, State Advisor in the Maine Department of Education and Faith McLaughlin, Maine DOE staff support specialist, as well as volunteering students and numerous other partners working on a volunteer basis.  Events were hosted at the University of Maine, Orono’s campus, as well as at Eastern Maine Community College.

For more information on technical and science programs eligible for FFA chapter membership for grades 7-12, please contact Maine FFA State Advisor, Doug Robertson in the Maine Department of Education:  doug.robertson@maine.gov  (207) 624-6744  and refer to the Maine FFA Association website:  https://www.maine.gov/doe/learning/ffa