The Maine FFA State Convention returned—following two virtual years due to COVID-19, as an in-person event on May 12-13, 2022. Formerly known as “Future Farmers of America,” FFA is the largest student-led organization in the country. Attended by over 250 FFA members, judges, guests and family members, this event, normally held at the University of Maine in Orono, was conducted for the first time in Presque Isle.
The Presque Isle location highlighted numerous agricultural opportunities of that area and relied on the joint hosting of both the University of Maine at Presque Isle and Northern Maine Community College. The two-day event featured competitions, agricultural and natural resources tours, community service events, a social event at Gentile Hall (the University of Maine at Presque Isle gymnasium and field house), and a chance to recognize the many achievements of middle and high school FFA members from throughout the year as well as at Convention.
Maine’s FFA State Officer team, Nickie Deschaine (President), Delaney McKeen (Vice President) and Ryder Brewer (Secretary-Treasurer), all originally from Central Aroostook High School, led the program, assisted by Clark Condon (Ashland High School), Lane McCrum (Central Aroostook High School) and Noah Rooney (Presque Isle Tech Center). Events were conducted and assisted by staff from the University of Maine at Presque Isle, Northern Maine Community College, the University of Maine, Orono, the University of Maine, Augusta in Bangor, the Maine Department of Education, teachers from local high schools and technical schools, former student FFA Officers, Northern Maine FFA Alumni, State FFA Officers from Connecticut, and representatives from a number of local agricultural and natural resources businesses and organizations.
Student competitions ranged from areas of environment and natural resources management, forestry and horse evaluation to agribusiness, employment skills, agricultural technology and mechanical systems and safe tractor driving. Students involved in public speaking events gained monetary prizes for their achievements. Tours included the hosting colleges, the Presque Isle Tech Center farm and greenhouse, the Penobscot McCrum potato plant in Washburn, Columbia Forest Products and Aroostook Truss in Presque Isle and Huber Engineered Woods in Easton. Community service events included work in the Presque Isle Community Garden, assisting the Presque Isle Recreation Department in yard work and trail work, and working on the University of Maine at Presque Isle community garden and greenhouse.
Students received over $15,000 in awards, prizes and scholarships, with 9 students receiving $1,000 scholarships to attend the 2022 National FFA Washington Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.. Convention participants gained professional skills related to agriculture and natural resources, practiced team work, and enjoyed the insights shared by their retiring State FFA Officers and by President Raymond Rice of the University of Maine at Presque Isle, President Tim Crowley of Northern Maine Community College, Deputy Commissioner Dan Chuhta of the Maine Department of Education, and National FFA Secretary Jackson Sylvester, from Delaware. Students left the event energized for the coming FFA year and with many positive memories of their events and the students they got to meet from other schools. Newly elected officers for the coming year include the re-election of Nickie Deschaine as President and the selection of Lane McCrum as the 2022-2023 Vice President.
For more information on FFA and on establishing a Maine FFA chapter, please contact: Doug Robertson, FFA State Advisor in the Maine Department of Education, firstname.lastname@example.org 207-624-6744.