Medina FFA ready for big week

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 May 2014 at 12:00 am

State Convention returns to Orleans County

Photos by Tom Rivers – Medina FFA leaders have been busy preparing for this week’s state convention. Some of the leaders include, from left: Cassidy Albone, President Ben Martin and Hayden Allis. About 1,200 students, and 200 advisors and ag teachers are expected in town from May 8-10.

MEDINA – A few hundred wooden folding chairs were delivered this morning. They are stacked in the hallway at Medina High School. They will be moved to the gymnasium on Thursday.

The chairs are just one of numerous details that have been tended to for the FFA State Convention this Thursday through Saturday at Medina. The Medina FFA Chapter is hosting the event for the first time since 2001. About 1,200 students from FFA chapters throughout the state will be at Medina for competitions, fun and inspiration. Most of the students will be staying at hotels in either Batavia or Lockport.

The event has been a lot of work the past year for the Medina chapter.

“We couldn’t have done this without a lot of help,” said Ben Martin, Medina’s FFA president.

The local farm community, FFA alumni and many others have pitched in to prepare for the convention.

About 200 people, many of them Medina teachers, will volunteer to judge more than 30 different competitions at the convention. Local ag businesses – Forrestel Farms, SK Herefords, Western New York Energy and Lamb Farms – will provide tours to students.

Medina’s downtown will also be featured on wagon tours. Todd Bensley, a Medina teacher and local historian, will discuss the downtown’s Medina sandstone heritage. Students will be able to tour the Bent’s Opera House and the downtown business district.

“We want to give them a taste of a small town,” Martin said. “We want to show that we have a huge historical background.”

The convention includes a Friday night concert at 9 p.m. at Vets Park. Savage Cabbage, a rock band that includes farmers John and Frank Starowitz, will perform. That concert also will include a carnival at the park.

The state officers for the FFA rehearse on stage this morning for a skit as part of the FFA State Convention. This year’s theme is “Harvest.”

The state officers for FFA arrived in Medina on Monday and they are polishing the three-day program that includes skits, inspirational messages and recognition for the FFA students. The officers picked the convention theme of “Harvest.”

“Harvest is more than just agriculture,” said Ashley Willits of Lowville, the state FFA president. “It could be succeeding at public speaking or climbing a ropes course for the first time.”

The officers are planning six sessions on the “Harvest” theme, with components on traditions and celebrations.

“Harvest is a process,” Willits said. “It doesn’t happen overnight.”

There are about 4,000 FFA students in the state. The program is growing. Five new chapters will be welcomed during the convention.

“The goal of the convention is to recognize everything the members do,” said Kaylin Broadwell, a past state officer who is volunteering this week. “FFA students are so focused on giving back to others. Convention is our time to recognize them.”

Albion hosted the convention last year. Next year it will be at Morrisville State College.

(Medina will have a half day of school for all students on Thursday and will be closed on Friday for the convention.)