Litchfield High School sent two FFA teams to compete at the 92nd Annual National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis earlier this month.
Overall, it was a great experience for both groups, although they didn’t do as well as they had hoped.
“It had a great deal to do with our test scores,” said senior Miles Kerstein, a reporter for the pro parliamentary procedure group. “We also do our demonstration where we — as a group — really do good. Where we have a little bit of a harder time is during our test. So that’s kind of what we think didn’t help us too much when it came to placings.”
The pro parliamentary procedure group finished 21st and received silver and the conduct of chapter meetings group received bronze. This was the first time Litchfield sent two state-winning teams to compete at national level in different contests.
Emotions hit senior Anna Euerle, president of pro parliamentary procedure group, when she arrived back at the airport.
“When you demo at national convention,” Euerle said, “it doesn’t really click in your mind that as a senior in high school, that’s your last demonstration with your team ever. And we’d been together for three or four years now and that kind of clicked for me. These boys have basically been my brothers that I didn’t ask for — for that long. It’s weird thinking that’s the last the gavel dropped for us.”
Sophomore Abby Shoutz, chairwoman of Litchfield conduct of chapter meetings team, said her team competed, but didn’t make it to the first round.
“I think our nerves definitely got the best of us,” Shoutz said.
Shoutz learned that her group worded motions differently compared to other FFA groups. Majority of the teams say a motion is amendable, debatable and requires majority vote, right before the motion reaches a vote, whereas Shoutz’s team used the phrase differently.
Shoutz will transition to becoming the next president for pro parliamentary procedure, and she said her team has a lot to learn before competing at national level again.
In his high school career, Dane Lewis has tried different activities such as hockey and football, but FFA stands out as the highlight.
“The hardest part is, this is the one thing that I’ve actually been the best at,” Lewis said. “This is the one thing that I took pride in for once. It’s the one thing that I felt I know what I’m doing. It felt really good. After the three years is up, it’s now over. Now I don’t have it anymore — it’s kind of like a shock. What can I do now?”
Lewis recently joined the Marines and he hopes to gain more knowledge and skills to one day run for state representative.
Kerstein sends a message to future FFA teams who want to compete and succeed in state and national levels.
“I would say definitely take the time — before going to the national or state convention — to study the test and the questions and read through your Robert’s Rules of Order,” he said. “Because you could practice the demonstration so much, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to do good or go far. But also, enjoy your national convention or state convention.”
The course of competition these last few years have been long for Kerstein and his team, so being together was a nice way to spend their journey’s end, Kerstein said.
“Make sure you are constantly working hard and striving to do your best,” he said, “even when you’re at those lows, and you don’t want to keep going. Just make sure you do, because it will pay off.”