The 94th Iowa FFA Leadership Conference is underway. Thousands of FFA members across the state gathered in Ames to kick off the event.

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I never got the opportunity to be an FFA member. I made up for it through my 4-H involvement so coming to this event is eye-opening to what impact this organization can make.

My first FFA event was back in November when I did a radio internship that covered National FFA Convention. There I was literally thrown into the deep end, trying to convince the audience and my guests into thinking I was an FFA expert.

Kailey Foster
Kailey Foster
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So, being here at the state convention I have a better idea of what goes on at FFA events but I am still learning.

While I wasn’t a member of FFA, my two younger sisters were. They were state President and Vice President of Social Media for Rhode Island two years ago. Hannah, who was the Vice President of Social Media goes to Iowa State University and helped judge the reporter's book.

Kailey Foster
Kailey Foster
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While I was walking around the conference, we started talking about what was differences between her experience in FFA and what the Iowa experience is like.

With that being said, I asked her to give me some of the biggest differences she sees between Iowa and Rhode Island FFA based on the State Conference.

Before jumping in, I do want to say that by doing this comparison I am in no way trying to bash any organization.

  1. There are A LOT more contests

I feel like every time I talk to someone that was in FFA, I always learn about new events people compete in. As I was writing this actually, I learned there is a radio contest! Taking to my sister, she didn’t have nearly as many options for competitions. She had options such as public speaking, floral design, and job interview, but there were no scrapbooks or farm business contests.

Kailey Foster
Kailey Foster
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  1. Student and Industry Interaction at Convention

One thing that stood out to my sister at the convention was the opportunities for interaction with the ag industry and even universities. She said this was not something she had the opportunity to take advantage of when she wore the blue jacket.

Kailey Foster
Kailey Foster
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  1. The Sessions Look a Little Different

Just like there are more contests, there are more sessions. But, a reason for this we will cover a little later in this article. However, these sessions also look a little different for both states. Talking with Hannah, she says that here in Iowa, more sessions involve speeches for the members. She said in Rhode Island, they held more workshops to try to keep the members engaged.

  1. Overall Member Involvement

The number of members in both states is vastly different. In Iowa, there are 252 chapters while Rhode Island has 4. This means that competition in general is going to look a little different between the two states. There are also more awards in Iowa that help engage more people to be involved.

Kailey Foster
Kailey Foster
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  1. Showcasing Your Musical and Other Talents.

One thing I thought was cool about FFA was the fact there is a band/choir and a talent show. Just looking at the Conference schedule, the band and choir have their own schedule to follow! It is a cool opportunity that members in Iowa can take part in.

Kailey Foster
Kailey Foster
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  1. State Officers

So here in Iowa, you know that there is the president, secretary, reporter, and six vice presidents, however in Rhode Island this looks a little different. You probably picked that up when I called my sister Vice President of Social Media. This is because each year the officer positions vary based on applications and what they see fit. For example, the year Hannah was on her state officer team, there was a President, a Secretary, and Vice Presidents at large, each with assigned responsibilities. This year, there are two Vice Presidents and a Secretary.

They also go through a different application process. In Iowa, candidates go through an extensive application process, then district interviews before state. In Rhode Island, Hannah just had a short application and a short 5–10-minute interview with no district office interviews.

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