Tuesday, April 2, 2013

2013 TN FFA Convention & Gatlingburg, TN

      I know some of my readers know what FFA is.  Future Farmers of American is a National organization that High School and College Students belong to.  I was a FFA member and both of my daughters as well.  The quote at the top of my page about judging a cow thru the mud came from my FFA adviser.  This organization will teach you things that you will use through your entire life. Following all my babble about our trip and pictures is a paper that Brianna wrote about FFA for a Scholarship application.

I was the first Girl President of the Bartlett, TN Chapter

     This is my youngest daughters Senior year and her last to attend a convention. My mom and I drove up to see her receive the State Farmers Degree.  She was also competing in the Job Interview Contest in which she finished 4th in the State.

     We went up on Monday and stayed till Wednesday, but we only attended the last session on the last day.  I don't remember the actual convention being so much fun. They have added fun things into the meetings, such as some entertainment, dancing and lights flashing.  What I remember is boring meetings and just wanting to get out on the street to look at boys.....and all the blue coats running around.  And this has changed too....It use to be a majority of boys and a few girls.  Now, I think it might be 50/50, if not more girls. I know my daughters chapter took four boys and fourteen girls. And the advisers are strict on official attire. There were not a lot of blue coats on the streets.  The kids would change into regular clothes after the meetings.  We would just change out of our skirt, into a pair of jeans and comfortable shoes.  It was fun to see where everyone was from.  I missed that this time.

Waiting to get into the conference room!

Some of the Brighton Group

Finally in and getting seated.

Dancing...We didn't do this!

More dancing & fun!

I almost missed her!

2012 Officers

Retired Jackets and new officers

Brianna and one her besties!

This is how it always looked.....back when I use to attend.  Not just after a meeting.

Gatlingburg, TN has really changed too! The last time that I was in Gatlingburg was in 1983 and my last convention was in 1980.  Wow.....that was a long time ago! The town has really turned into a tourist trap like Branson, MO.   Lots of shows there and in Pigeon Forge.  The Brighton kids always attend the Dixie Stampede.  (Note: they don't give you any silverware or plastic) They have trolleys to help you to get around and will even take you over to Dollywood. This is a good thing, because the traffic is horrific.  But, with that said, it is still in the beautiful mountains with the National Park right there at the edge of town.

We stayed at the Greystone Lodge at The Aquarium at the other end of the strip.  Away from the convention.  We got a good rate, (under construction, I didn't know)  good continental breakfast and the view off of our balcony was beautiful.  But.....It was kinda weird getting to your room.  You have a certain garage to pull in and there are doors numbered with the hotel room numbers.  You park close to your door and then when you walk in, your room is right there across the hall.  I hate garages.....and anyone could have walked in, no card reader on the doors from the garage, and we were kinda secluded from the office/main building.   We were way down the hallway, so to go out walking we had to walk down that long hallway (with all those doors going out into the garage) and walk out the end of the building, which was kinda secluded.  Wish I had taken a picture which is more than a thousand words.  Point is, I wouldn't have picked this hotel to stay in with my mom.  And it was after dark when we got back the first night.....I had wanted to go on the Haunted Trail that has a guide leaving a cemetery, but after being a little creeped out.  I decided against it. 

    I am not a scaredy cat, just cautious!  I EVEN scared the pee out of one the Maintenance men.  We were coming back into the hotel.  You had to walk between buildings and down a sidewalk and then round the corner to the door.   My mom opened the door to the building and it let out a horrible screech and I screamed.  (I have no idea way!) The maint. man was coming down the stairs and thought he had scared me.  @@@@ I didn't even see him.....maybe I did.

Pictures from our balcony.  This would have been really nice if it had not been cold and snowing.  I would stay there again, IF I could book a room in the building that is under renovation.  It's room doors are right there on the front of the building and parking LOT.

You can see the snow.

My Mom

Me wishing I had a hat!

In front of a show.

The trolley that takes you up on top of the mountain.  $11 round trip

On top of the mountain

Ice Skating.
   They also have Snow skiing, tubes to slide down in, and wildlife outside.  It was very crowded in this area, so we went up to the lounge and had lunch and watched it snow. 

Some of the lifts

The ride back down. They really pack you in there. Capacity 120

She is running away, she didn't want a picture

Another picture from our room

All and all we had a good trip and it was nice spending a few days with just my mom.  I wish the weather had been just a little nicer.  We walked our legs off and couldn't take advantage of any of the many benches because they were wet and it was to cold to sit around.

Following is a paper that Brianna wrote for a Scholarship opportunity.  I hopes she wins!

          I just got home from my final trip to the Tennessee FFA Convention.  Being a member of FFA for the past four years has given me many opportunities and memories that I will carry with me for my lifetime.  A person can gain a lot of qualities from being in a club and I have definitely done this through FFA. Becoming a FFA member provides many opportunities to gain confidence, leadership abilities, and responsibility.
           Confidence is a good quality to have. There are various competitions throughout the year that FFA members can compete in that build confidence.  These competitions range from Opening and Closing Ceremonies for freshman to Prepared Speaking and Job interview for upper classmen. When competing in these events, you must keep a positive attitude and have confidence to succeed. This year I decided to step out of my comfort zone and compete in Job Interview. On competition day when I walked into that room, I knew I had the confidence that I needed for this competition. Why did I have the confidence?  Our FFA advisors work hard helping us  prepare for our events.  I got first in the preliminaries, advanced to finals the next day, and placed second in the West Tennessee Region.  At this point, I had to prepare for the state competition at State Convention. My advisor helped me get prepared for state, by having me interviewed daily by different schools administration.  I ended up placing fourth in the state and I am very proud of my accomplishment.  I would have loved to place higher, but you never know if you can reach your goals if you do not step out of your comfort zone.
            Another quality one can gain from being in the FFA is leadership abilities. There are many times when one will have to work with a team.  It is important to realize everyone’s strengths.   When each individual’s strengths are used, the team will finish the task at hand not only faster but also better.  A person must also realize that being a leader does not mean always being in charge. A leader is someone that can listen to other’s opinions and take charge when needed, but also step back and be a follower when necessary.
            Responsibility is important for everyone’s future. This organization can definitely teach a teenager just that. Whether one decides to run for office, show livestock, or compete in a Career Development Event (CDE) each of these activities require responsibility.  If a person decides to run for chapter office, they are going to have duties and responsibilities to uphold.  They will be in charge of chapter meetings, fundraisers, and other activities.  When someone decides to show livestock or compete in a CDE they have made a commitment to do their best.  Showing up to meetings and practices shows responsibility.
            As the last session of the last and final FFA Convention for me came to a close, it was bittersweet. I looked back over the last four years of being a FFA member.  I thought about the Summer Camps that we hosted and attended, contests that I competed in, serving as an officer, and I smiled.  All of these events helped to build the confidence, leadership abilities, and responsibilities needed for my next step in life.