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INDIANAPOLIS -- The Ballard FFA had an impressive showing at the 91st National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis, held Oct. 27, 2018.

Two teams from Ballard represented the Iowa FFA Association in national Career Development Events (CDE). Jim Chism, Jenna Hernandez and Sierra Knight participated in the Marketing Plan CDE while Emma Kielsmeier, Elizabeth Hyman, Mattison Hill and Allie Peirson competed in the Agricultural Communications CDE.

Following two consecutive years of placing second and one year of placing first in the state Marketing Plan CDE, Ballard was named state winner in April and qualified for 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 Double Dipped Ice Cream Shop. 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.

“Competing at Nationals was a great experience,” states Jenna Hernandez, “I competed in marketing plan with my two other teammates Sierra and Jim. It was really fun to see our hard work pay off as we made the semi-finals and continued on to receive the silver award. We also had a great time walking around the career fair, eating food, meeting kids from all over the country and of

course having fun at the hotel. National Convention is an experience that is truly a privilege and one that shows our hard work!”

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 Emma Kielsmeier wrote an opinion article. Elizabeth Hyman wrote a news story. Allie Pierson created a video and Mattison Hill created a website.

“National FFA Convention was a great Learning Experience,” said Emma Kielsmeier, “I loved all the hard work we put into Agriculture Communications leading up to nationals. I took so much more than a sense of accomplishment from nationals. I gained many core values such as leadership and self-confidence! Nationals also helped my teammates and I not only grow closer as a team but also as friends. Overall I had a blast and am truly looking forward to competing again!”

Keynote speakers included the president of the United States, Donald Trump, along with Kyle Scheele and Judson Laipply.

“Kyle Scheele who encouraged everyone at the conference to live a life that would have an impact on others and make people around you feel important was my favorite,” said Knight. “He made us laugh while teaching us an important lesson that will apply to us for years to come.”

Ballard members also explored the National FFA Expo. Many exhibitors represented 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.

The Ballard FFA Chapter was chartered on October 9, 2014 and currently provides leadership opportunities to members at local, district and state levels. The Ballard FFA Chapter makes a difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. For more information, please visit

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