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National Convention 2017: An Adventure

The Ballard FFA had an impressive showing at the 90th National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis, held Oct. 25-28.

Two teams from Ballard represented the Iowa FFA Association in national Career Development Events (CDE). Carla Edleman, Dana Edleman and Clayton Poots participated in the Marketing Plan CDE while Jim Chism, Ashley Kahler, Grace Long and Caitlin Peterson competed in the Agricultural Communications CDE.

Following two consecutive years of placing second in the state Marketing Plan CDE, Ballard was named state winner on their third attempt and headed to the national competition. FFA members teamed up to write and deliver a 15-minute presentation, as well as to answer questions about their work.

The trio prepared a marketing plan for a local show pig operation managed by Ben and Candi Engler of Cambridge. The Ballard team progressed through the preliminary round and into the semi-final round. While Ballard did not make the final four, they earned a silver rating for their efforts.

“Being part of the marketing plan team was a terrific experience,” according to senior Dana Edleman. “I really enjoyed conducting the market research behind our project, as well as writing our actual marketing plan.”

The Ballard Agricultural Communications team submitted a written media plan in September and delivered a 15-minute team presentation at nationals. Team members also completed two exams over Associated Press style and listened to a press conference before completing their practicums.

The purpose of Ag Communications is to excite and inspire students to develop skill applicable to the agricultural communications industry. Through their involvement in this CDE, the Ballard students had the opportunity to develop their abilities and advocate for agriculture.

Ballard team member Jim Chism wrote an opinion blog post and earned a silver rating, while Ashley Kahler produced a 60-second video and earned a bronze rating. Long’s press release was named top in her practicum and earned her a second place individual finish. Caitlin Peterson designed a WordPress site and was named the 8th place individual. The team earned a gold rating and placed 10th overall.

“Competing at the national level was a bit intimidating but once everything came together it was an amazing experience,” said Long. “This event gave me a lot of skills that I will use in my future.”

After earning the state level Diversified Livestock Entrepreneurship proficiency award in April for her sheep and swine Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) project, Dana Edleman qualified for the national competition. Edleman earned a gold rating in national competition.

In addition to the CDE teams, Jenna Hernandez, Sierra Knight, Grace Hill and Joe Jordan also represented Ballard FFA at the convention.

“It was a great experience traveling to Indianapolis and meeting FFA members from many different states,” said first-time attendee Hill.

Keynote speakers included Laila Ali, daughter of legendary boxing champion Muhammad Ali, and boxer herself along with motivational speaker and magician Jon Petz and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

“Jon Petz was very engaging,” said Knight. “His inspirational message motivated me to have a positive impact on others in my everyday life.”

Ballard members also explored the National FFA Expo. More than 450 exhibitors representing agriculture, colleges, and livestock and poultry companies were present. Students had the opportunity to meet one-on-one with professionals to discuss educational plans and career opportunities.

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