The North Surry FFA Chapter, led by Michael Culler, returned recently from a five-day trip to Indianapolis, Indiana to take part in the National FFA Convention.
For many students it was a trip of a lifetime. Students left early Tuesday morning that week and returned to Mount Airy Saturday. On the way to Indiana, students stopped in Kentucky at Devine’s Corn Maze and Farm. Culler said students were able to learn more about Agro Tourism.
“Students learned about how to make money from the farm other than traditional farming. This farm has over 50,000 visitors a year, “said Culler.
On Wednesday morning, students were able to visit and tour the Indianapolis Speedway. While they didn’t get to ride in a race car around the track, the students were treated to riding the bus around the race track. Many students did take part in the tradition of the “kissing of the bricks.” The tradition of “kissing the bricks” was started by NASCAR champion Dale Jarrett, after his Brickyard 400 victory in 1996 as a way to pay tribute to the history of this famous speedway.
After visiting the speedway, students made their way to the National FFA Convention. Culler stated that more than 65,000 people attended the Convention.
FFA members listened to many notable guest speakers and attended a huge career show. Culler stated that students were exposed to careers in the field of Agriculture that many didn’t even know existed.
“Just because you’re taking an agriculture class doesn’t mean that you have to be a farmer. There are numerous career possibilities in the Agriculture field and students were given an opportunity to see this by exploring the Career fair,” said Culler.
Students also visited Fair Oaks Dairy Farm, about an hour-and-a-half outside of Indianapolis. This is a 19,000 acre farm with more than 35,000 cows, along with a pig facility. The farm had state-of-the art birthing facilities for the cows.
For sophomore Lance Mosley, his favorite part of the trip was the rodeo but he was amazed by the dairy farm.
“I didnt’t even know there was that type of technology Incorporated into a dairy farm,” he said.
Some members were treated to seeing a calf being born. The farm was so large they had a store that sold all of their products. Students were able to buy milk, cheeses, cheesecake and ice-cream.
“I got ice-cream at the farm and it was great,” said Victoria Creed. “It was the best ice-cream I’ve had in a while.” She also had an easy answer to her favorite part of the trip. “The Rascal Flatts Concert and the rodeo were my favorite parts. I am glad I got to spend a part of my senior year in Indiana with the people that went. It is definitely a trip I won’t forget.”
On Friday, students got a history lesson as they toured the Conner Prairie. This gave the students the opportunity to see how farm life was on the prairie back in the early to mid 1800s.
After that, they returned once more to the career fair and finished the night with a rodeo. During the pre-show, students were able to interact with the rodeo participants, ask them questions, pose for pictures and get autographs. Students could even sit on a real bull in the pin and experience what a bull-rider feels before they begin their ride.
Reece Westmoreland, son of Kevin and Renee Westmoreland, is the president of the North Surry FFA Chapter.
“It’s hard to choose a favorite part, when you enjoy everything,” Reece said in reflecting on the trip. “I loved being able to meet new people from all over the United States and learn about their FFA program. I enjoyed being able to go to the different farms and learn about what they do and ways that they grow and function. I also enjoyed the evening events. We went to the Rascal Flatts concert, a hypnotist show and a rodeo.
“As president for the chapter, I was very happy with our members that went on the trip. Everyone was well behaved and seemed to have a good time. As I talked to other FFA officers from all over the United States, it was clear to see that North Surry has a very large FFA program. We had 40 students to go on the trip which is about half of our chapter which is amazing to me. I was also pleased with how our group bonded on this trip. It was a very successful trip.”
Culler was also pleased with how the trip turned out.
“FFA is the only high school club that has members from all 50 states and Puerto Rico at its national convention,” he said. “Students are exposed to other people and cultures from all over the United States. I talked to students who lived on an Indian reservation in Arizona. I talked to students from Puerto Rico. We discussed the effects of the hurricane.”
Culler states that many students have not had the opportunity to travel much. This trip gave many students an opportunity to see life outside of Surry County. “It also exposed them to career opportunities that many didn’t even know existed.”