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Albion FFA is ready for limelight

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 April 2013 at 12:00 am

State Convention runs from Thursday through Saturday

Photo by Tom Rivers – Officers for the Albion FFA pose by a sign in front of the high school. The group includes, from left: Logan London, Mariah Pepe, Elizabeth Bentley, Riley Kelly, Alison O’Hearn (vice president), Jenny McKenna (president), Abigail Maines, Sara Millspaugh and Kellie O’Hearn.

ALBION – About a year ago Allison O’Hearn was on the phone with eight different hotels in Batavia, checking their availability for 1,100 students and their chaperones for this May 2-4.

It was the first of many phone calls and letters for the vice president of the Albion FFA. O’Hearn and Jenny McKenna, the FFA president, have been lining up judges, sponsors, entertainment and volunteers for the FFA state convention this Thursday through Saturday.

The Albion FFA students will be working on the convention right up until students arrive from throughout the state on Thursday afternoon. Today, the Albion students were filling goodie bags with coupons to local businesses, pens and pamphlets about Albion.

O’Hearn also just finalized plans to have modern farm machinery displayed with some antique tractors.

“We’re going right down to the last minute to make this the best state convention and one that they’ll remember,” O’Hearn said at school today.

FFA advisor Adam Krenning also has been a key leader is assembling more than 150 judges from the community for 26 different competitions ranging from speaking to technical and leadership skills. He has led three orientations for the judges.

Krenning also negotiated with managers for the entertainers, including country music singer JJ Lawhorn who will perform in an outdoor tent behind the school, and Ben Glenn, a chalk artist who was featured when the state convention was in Albion in 2007.

The 1,100 FFA students are coming from 71 different chapters, including students from New York City, the North Country, Hudson Valley, Southern Tier and other parts of the state.

McKenna said she is looking forward to a ceremony on Friday night when first-year FFA students will be presented their blue corduroy jackets. That ceremony will shift to the varsity football field, where fireworks will follow.

McKenna also wanted to show off the Albion community and local agriculture. Students can choose to attend tours of the Neal family dairy farm in Albion, Lamb Farms in Oakfield, Western New York Energy’s ethanol plant in Medina, Intergrow in Gaines, Oxbo in Byron, Post Farms in Elba and the Milton CAT plant in Batavia. Students can also look over the Albion FFA chapter’s new 5-acre “land lab” that was established about a year ago.

Students, when they have some down time from competitions and other events, will be urged to discover the historical assets in Albion as well as the businesses.

“This is one of our focuses to say this is our community and this is what we’re proud of,” McKenna said.