On Oct. 29, Osceola Big Chief FFA chapter boarded a charter bus, along with students from five other schools.
The bus left for Peoria, Ill., to stop at Caterpillar to take a tour through the facility that assembles bulldozers. As students were guided through the facility, they got to see the assembly line belts move as workers installed parts of each bulldozer.
They arrived in Louisville, Ky., and took a tour at Darley Thoroughbred farms in Lexington.
Darley Farms, also known as Jonabell Farm, is owned by Sheikh Mohammed, who is the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and Crown Prince of Dubai. He bought out the farms in 2001, and currently stands 13 stallions that are well known in the racing industry.
Students got to tour two of the stall barns and the breeding facility. They were told one horse, at the peak of his performance, may have a stud fee of $150,000. At this cost, he can breed up to 200 mares in the United States and Australian breeding seasons.
A tour guide said studs are often bred for an average of five years. Students learned Affirmed, the 1978 Triple Crown winner, is buried standing up at Darley farms, below a commemorative headstone.
After Darley Farms, students toured Buffalo Trace Distillery to learn how the industry is important to agriculture. They bring truck loads of corn everyday, which comes from states in the Midwest like Iowa.
After the distillery is done using the mash to make their bourbon, they put it into giant dryers to make distillers grain for livestock. The distillery also supports the lumber and logging industry, as all of the bourbon is stored in wooden barrels, the main source of unique flavor. Each bottle made at the distillery can be traced back to the storage barrel it was contained in, and how long it was aged before being marketed.
Once students arrived at national convention at Freedom Hall, they attended a lot of agenda-based sessions, as well as listened to many motivational speakers.
One of the highlights of the convention was listening to Josh Sundquist. Sundquist is an amputee who stresses how important it is to overcome adversity.
Students also attended many focused workshops where they learned about leadership opportunities and how to make an impact in the agricultural industry.
Each student attended a career show with more than 2,400 colleges and companies. Osceola Big Chief Chapter members got a chance to speak with companies and find out what job opportunities they can pursue and what type of schooling is needed.
During the convention, the National FFA received a million-dollar donation from Dodge. This donation was made based off of the promotion of the “God Made a Farmer” video aired during the Super Bowl last year.
Steven Brockshus, a past Iowa FFA president, ran for national office and was elected as the central region vice president.
Chapter members who were in attendance were Ashley Jackson, Colin Morris, Tiffany McKnight, Keleah Selsor, Kooper Brimm, Kaitlyn Boyer, Jake Manternach, Fulton Abraham and Weston Brokaw.
There were more than 62,000 people who attended the convention from all over the United States. The students were given a challenge to get a signature from an FFA member from each of the fifty states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Jackson and Boyer accomplished the task.
On Nov. 2, the students returned home from the convention.
Jake Manternach, Osceola Big Chief FFA chapters reporter, contributed information to this article.