For the first time in 11 years, six local FFA members represented Hettinger at the Annual National FFA Convention and traveled to the Indianapolis, Indiana.
FFA Chapter Reporter
Miami Pekas, the FFA chapter reporter recounts the events in the story below:
National FFA Convention 2018
On October 21st -28th, six amazing Hettinger FFA members hit the road to travel to the 91st Annual National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. It has been at least 11 years since Hettinger has been represented at the National Convention. The six that attended this year just so happened to also be the 2018-19 Hettinger FFA Officer Team: Mack Buckmier-President, Kaden Schauer-Vice-President, Tatum Fitch-Secretary, Michelle Witt-Treasurer, Miami Pekas – Reporter, and Zach Rickertsen-Sentinel. The first day of traveling, Hettinger met up with Bowman, Belfield, South Heart, Glen Ullin, and New England on a charter bus. The first stop of that day was at Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After spending some money there, we stopped for the night in Eau Claire, WI.
The second day of traveling was when the unforgettable tours started. Our first tour of the trip was at a Wisconsin Cranberry Farm. This tour was a student led tour given by a Tour Class of Seniors and Juniors. We tasted the very tart berries, watch how they are harvested (flooding the bogs-they float due to the four air packets), stored and shipped. It is a long process to get the berries from the field to the stores. We were then bussed out to the bogs to see harvesting in action. It was definitely a site to see. It was a beautiful sea of red. The cranberries were pulled to an auger and loaded to a truck to take back to packaging, storing and shipping. We learned how the bogs are preserved for the winter. They flood the fields with 8-10 inches of ice and a layer of sand to protect the vines over the winter months. They produce 340 million pounds of cranberries each year. A surprising fact: Cranberries have more vitamin C than do oranges. They are also a great source of Vitamins E and K.
The next tour that day was Hinchley’s Wisconsin Dairy Farm in Cambridge, WI. The owner of the farm hosts the tours, which takes time out of her day to educate others. The owner went through the process of how she keeps her cows safe and prepared for the milking process. Each of us got a chance to milk one of her cows by hand. She showed us the new hands-free, high technology milking system that will be milking her cows. This new system will help her milk the cows faster and safer. This $2.3 million operation is expected to be up and running by January. The cows will be able to get milked whenever they want. Since the cows have collars around their necks, the machine will know exactly which cow is producing how much milk, if it has a fever, mastitis or any other issues that need to be addressed. This system can to be watched by the owners phone. She can see all the data at the tip of her fingers. Hands free milking is something only our grandparents dreamed of, it is now a reality. We ended the second day in Rockwell, Illinois.
The third day we traveled to the big and exciting city of Chicago, Illinois. We went to the John Hancock building, which was the highest city in Chicago with a 360 view of the city. We could see the lake, and all of the city. The city stretched so far you could see buildings for miles. Inside the building was a tilt machine, this machine brought you out of the building, as to seem like falling. This gave us a better view and different experience of the city. After seeing the city, we went to eat real Chicago pizza. The team figured that Chicago pizza is made with the cheese first, then the sauce on top. So don’t be afraid to go home and try some yourself now. Finally, we walked through the busy city of downtown Chicago. On the way we saw the boats on the lake, and Trump Tower. Once we made it to Millennial Park, we headed straight to the iconic Chicago Bean (Cloud Gate) sculpture by Indian-born British artist Sir Anish Kapoor. The beautiful city line and trees made the view unique and unforgettable. After the adventures in Chicago, we finally made it to Indianapolis.
Day four was the first day of the 91th Annual National FFA Convention. We ventured off to the Indianapolis Zoo. There we saw many amazing different animals that we don’t have here in North Dakota; giraffes, sharks, penguins, monkeys, and cheetahs. We even took in a dolphin show. After spending most of the morning at the zoo, we went to the Capital of Indianapolis. This is the last capital to have a church within the building. The boys were very interested in all of the history, while the girls were amazed by the architecture inside and outside the building. After the long day, we went back to the hotel to get ready for the Garth Brooks concert at the Lucas Oil Stadium (Colts Football Stadium). We were lucky to have gotten floor seats to the concert, which was very close to the stage. Ned LeDoux was the opening act. The concert ended by making Garth amazed by how loud the stadium was. He put on one Amazing Show!
The fifth day was the day we finally put on our FFA blue jackets. We started by going to the early session, which was very inspiring about how ‘Just One’ choice you make can make a huge impact. Getting to hear the National Officers speak was very inspiring. After that, North Dakota took group and chapter pictures. For the rest of the day we spent exploring the multitude of booths at the Career Fair. Booths included colleges, fundraisers, advisor information, farming equipment, cars, hall of states, and even spotify was there with a booth with famous country singers. There was also an FFA shopping Center, which was never ending. That evening we attended the Indy Scream Park. This park was voted #1 Scariest Haunted House of 2017. There were 5 different themes to go through. The first theme was Backwoods, which was in the middle of a forest, in pitch black darkness. Sadly only four out of the six members went into this one, and we happily made it out. Let’s just say Kaden Schauer and Mrs. Schauer where very brave to lead and hold the end of the lines. The rest of the themes were zombies, asylum, killer clowns, and mutation monsters. Four members went through all of them, and came out alive, so now we have bragging rights.
The sixth day we traveled all the way down to Louisville, Kentucky. We started the day by touring Churchill Downs, which is the home of the Kentucky Derby. We saw horses training on the track by very talented trainers. Even though it was cold and raining, that didn’t seem to slow them down. The museum was interactive, we raced horses, listened to the racers, and the boys got to fake bet on horses. We watched a video on the Kentucky Derby. This video was not a normal one, it was a 360-degree movie. We had to turn our bodies to watch the movie as it moved along the screen. We then enjoyed a great lunch at Joe’s Crab Shack. This one was located right on the Ohio River. As we ate, we saw boats and cargo ships pass by. Onward to see the Louisville Slugger Factory, which is where baseball bats are made. Before our tour, we looked around the museum. We saw Babe Ruth’s bat. The boys knew all about baseball, so they had teach some of us that didn’t know much. Some people held real baseball bats that were played in the big league. There was even a pitching cage where some members took their best swing and pitched up to 78 mph. The tour showed us how the bats were made and how they were crafted for the big league. After the tour, everyone received a mini baseball bat as a souvenir. Some of the boys bought real baseball bats that could not compare to the mini ones we got.
As the last night of the trip, the nights ended with Uber eats or Dominoes for dinner. The day we left, President Donald Trump spoke at the last session. President Donald Trump became the first sitting U.S. president in 27 years to speak at the National FFA Convention, since George W. Bush in 1991 in Kansas City, MO. The last days were consisted of traveling back home. After 23 hours of driving and some delays, we finally made it home bright and early Sunday morning. We are so thankful for the opportunity that, not only did Mrs. Schauer give us, but the support of the community. We thank everyone who helped make this possible. Thank you for giving six young kids this amazing experience of traveling through five different states. Thank you! This is a trip we will never forget!