How To Survive Your First Convention

How To Survive Your First Convention

  Photo: National FFA Organization

Photo: National FFA Organization

Every year, FFA members meet to conduct business, compete in development events, and gain inspiration from keynote speakers. Those who have been to convention before understand what an incredible experience it can be, but if you’re gearing up for your first time it can be a little daunting. We’ve put together a quick guide of things you’ll need to know to experience your first state or national convention.

Dress to impress
Hope you like blue corduroy! You’ll observe a sea of students in blue jackets dotted with the occasional teacher or business professional. When walking around, it will be impossible to resist reading the backs of jackets to find out where everyone is from. Since this is your first time, you might not have everything you need for Official Dress (pg 24), but try and get as close as you can. “Unofficial” official dress can look sloppy or lazy. You’re here for business after all, try to be prepared.

Sleep is your friend, and your enemy
Convention packs an impossible amount of opportunities into such a short period of time, it’s impossible to experience everything. Utilize your nights and downtime wisely so you can avoid missing the important stuff*

*dozing off during an early morning session is not endorsed or recommended but you gotta do what you gotta do sometimes

Colleges, careers, and clothing! Oh my!
Stepping into the expo for the first time can be overwhelming. You’ll want to stick with your group, but divide and conquer is the key to true career show success. Get a few friends and check out some of the companies and schools to see what they have to offer. You might be surprised at who you meet, and all the free swag you walk away with.

Carry a bag - and a phone charger
You’ll need a way to hold all the free stuff you get and snacks to keep you going through the day. If you want to participate in sharing your experiences through social media bringing your phone charger with you is a necessity. Sitting up against a wall outlet is essentially a convention right of passage.

Be present
The most enriching parts of convention are the sessions and workshops. Do your best to pay attention to the speakers, learn about the awards, and participate when you can. No one likes a wet noodle, so try to have fun! Memories aren’t made by moping around and keeping to yourself.

Grow your FFAmily
Everyone at convention already has one thing in common, so it’s easy to make friends. You can get to know members of your own chapter, people from your state, or people from across the country at any turn. Trade Instagram or Twitter handles and stay in touch. If the conversation gets stale just ask them about their chapter, their favorite CDE’s, or what they do for their SAE.

Take it all in
FFA conventions are an insane and unexplainable whirlwind of a time. They pass by way too quickly and you’ll return back to school and your regular life before you know it. Take pictures because before you know it, your years as a member will be behind you, your jacket will be retired, and you’ll be trying to convince your college or employer to send you back.

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