The National FFA convention is held every year and attracts FFA members from every state, including Alaska and Hawaii. The 96th National FFA Convention was held in Indianapolis, Indiana, from November 1-4, 2023. The convention theme was “Evolve.” 

While at the convention, 16 Catoctin FFA members joined over 72,900 other FFA members, advisors, and guests from across our nation. The National FFA Convention and Expo is one of the largest student conventions in the world, with a mission to develop, educate, and inspire. Throughout the week, members were able to participate in sessions, contests, workshops, and a career expo.

The chapter made several industry stops on the way to Indianapolis. They visited the Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis Missouri. They were able to move through the self-pace museum to learn about how the arch was built and why it was built. Students were able to ride the tram 630 feet to the top (the tallest monument in the United States) to see the stunning views, stretching up to 30 miles to the east and west. Students were also able to see the Mississippi River.

They also visited Caterpillar in Peoria, Illinois. The museum tour started with a short video in the bed of a massive two-and-half story Cat 797F Mining Truck.  They learned how Caterpillar is built on the foundation of innovation and customer focus. FFA members were able to test their skills on simulators to see firsthand what it is like to operate equipment the way operators do. 

At Building SS, they were able to visit the factory floor and watch Cat employees assemble, test, and paint Caterpillar’s medium and large track-type tractors, including the D7E electric-drive tractor and pipelayers. 

At the National Convention, some FFA members competed in Career Development Events/Leadership Development Events, more often referred to as CDEs and LDEs. To complete a CDE/LDE, each team or individual contestant extensively learned their subject and rehearsed their task in preparation for state convention. Every state gets to send one winning team per CDE/LDE to advance to nationals. This year, Catoctin FFA’s Agricultural Issues was eligible to compete at the National Convention. 

Agriculture Issues: The Agriculture Issues team presented a 15-minute skit.  The question they presented was: Should Agriculture Education be a Graduation Requirement in the State of Maryland? Each member of the team played a part of the skit. The team had to present the facts in an unbiased and creative way. The team had to present the skit a minimum of five times before the MD state convention. The team earned a bronze placing. Members include: Annalise Abruzzese, Kaitlynn Bentz, Alyssa Costa, Drew Potter, Carly Ridenour, and Savannah Ridenour.

American FFA Degree recipients: Less than 1 percent of FFA members receive this prestigious degree. To be eligible to receive the American FFA Degree, members must meet qualifications such as receiving a State FFA Degree, holding active membership for the past three years, completing secondary instruction in an agricultural education program, and operating an outstanding supervised agricultural experience program. This year, Catoctin FFA had one member earn and receive this highest honor: Cadin Valentine. Congratulations!

Thank you to everyone for all of the support in helping Catoctin FFA to participate in the 96th National FFA Convention. These students have gained skills and memories that will last a lifetime.

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