By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
TULSA, Okla. — Oklahoma FFA members converge in Oklahoma City each spring to celebrate fellow chapter’s successes and honor students who have gone out of their way for their peers. The 2022 convention was held in Tulsa, however and members of the Newkirk Chapter joined fellow groups from across the state to celebrate everything FFA has to offer.
The event was held May 2- 4 at the Cox Business Convention Center and BOK (Bank of Oklahoma) Center, Downtown Tulsa.
Several Newkirk attendees relaxed in the FFA room at Newkirk High School Thursday, May 5, after returning home the previous day. Each students returned with his or her own experience, whether new to the convention, or a veteran with many trips.
“There were a lot of people there,” said sophomore Teagan Washington, who attended for the first time, and was unprepared for the crowds that gathered at the event.
Emmalee Kelly had a different view. A senior and vice president of the chapter, she saw it as a way to say goodbye to so many memories.
“It felt unreal, just knowing it’s my last year, and knowing I’m standing in the arena the last time,” she said.
Differing views, experiences and backgrounds all came together to celebrate what makes the FFA Organization great, especially in Oklahoma.
There are many activities that take place at the convention, from award presentations, concerts and motivational speakers to workshops designed to teach new concepts to the students. There was so much to gain from those events.
Washington attended “No FFAke Friends,” learning new ways to make connections without any sort of judgement of the other person, simply appreciating a new friend.
“We talked about getting to know different people, and knowing how to react to different thoughts,” he said. “It was interesting to meet different people and talk about why they like FFA.”
Kelly and Carly Ballagh attended a class of their own, learning new skills with National FFA officer Josiah Cruikshank, in “Next Generation of Leaders.” It was an eye-opening experience, as it taught the members how to lead the chapter with new leadership skills. Kelly is vice president, and Ballagh is secretary.
“We learned how to follow directions, and how to put goals into action,” Kelly said.
Ballagh added, “We were also able to achieve goals for the chapter through steps we learned during the workshop.”
There were also honors received at the Convention; Kelly and Matthew Mayse earned State Degree, the highest FFA honor in Oklahoma.
“It felt good to be recognized,” Kelly said, adding they had to complete an SAE, or Supervised Agricultural Experience, to be eligible for the award.
Kelly bred animals that would later be shown at area livestock shows.
“We had to have an SAE, and fill out record books every year, showing we were able to meet career goals,” Kelly said. “I have to breed sows, and sell the piglets as show animals.”
Madison Wathor also was honored at the convention by the Hunger Challenge Chapter Recognition.
The chapter members experienced far more than just the State Convention. Due to travel, they stayed in an area hotel, and were able to see the Tulsa Metro during down times, including the Jenks Aquarium and Woodland Hills Mall.
“We had a swimming game night, and played cards,” Kelly said.
The biggest takeaway however, has always been the memories made at the event, and the friendships created, and maintained, that will be cherished for many years to come.
“I got to see my friend, Rylie, from the National Convention band,” Kelly said, adding that she was from Ringwood, Okla., a small town Oklahoma girl she met at the National level. “It felt good to catch up at the hotel. I think it is a really good experience that everyone should experience at least once in their life.”