Monday evening Dad and Abigail brought me into Coldwater to my Adviser's house. She was at a school meeting and didn't get out 'till at least 10:00 and we finally hit the road about 10:30. We made a long three hour drive to Lafayette which was about 3 hours. I got to the hotel and hit the hay around 1:30.
Tuesday morning we were on the road again around quarter after 7. We went to a cattle grading workshop on the campus of Purdue University. BTW, that is a highly agricultural university. They had some practice classes set up as well so we went and judged a few of those. Worked out some kinks on the hogs, and took lots of notes. Around 3:00 we went into the town of Lafayette and our adviser did some shopping. Then we headed into Indianapolis where the FFA National Convention was held. We went out for dinner at the cheesecake factory then came back to our hotel. At about 8:00 we started working on tests as the following day we were taking a 50 question test for the contest. We took probably 5-7 tests each and were finally done around 10:00. We made our way slowly to our rooms and I finally crashed around 11:00.
Wednesday morning everyone slept in. I woke up around 6:30ish and started taking more tests and studied reasons. I got some breakfast early with my roommate who had to leave early in the morning for her contest so I was pretty much up and ready for the day. At 9:00 our whole team met and started giving reasons. We gave two sets before we went to get ready for pictures. After pictures at noon we went and got some lunch at the golden arches then headed bak for our Keep/Cull and test. We thought we did pretty well with just one main mistake but we were okay. In the cattle (Hereford Heifers) we got a 41/50, sheep (Suffolk Ewes) 38/50 (that one was the one we made the big mistake on) and hogs (Spot gilts) 49/50. Overall we got 128/150 points. For never really going over Keep/Cull stuff much it was pretty good. It was probably the most fun out of the whole contest too. :) Test went pretty well, with just a few questions we'd never even heard of. I somehow managed to work myself out of that one guessing really really well. :) I got 82/100 points. After competing we went to the FFA store and the boys all found boots and I found a belt buckle but none of us bought anything except for Tyler who bought a shirt that said "PETA - People Eating Tasty Animals" on the front and "Vegitarian, the Indian slang word for someone who isn't brave and can't hunt" (or something like that, can't remember the exact wording". We went to the opening session that night and it was pretty neat to see so many FFA members in their blue jackets filling up a huge stadium. We got to hear Mike Rowe from "Dirty Jobs" and he had a really good speech. Then we went back to our hotel rooms and got one more set of reasons ready. Mine was a disaster but mostly because the whole team was listening to me, laughing and trying to help me through it. It was rather comical, but whatever. We didn't make it to bed 'till about midnight.
Thursday morning we were all up early and getting ready for our big day. We made the 1/2 hour drive to the fairgrounds (State Fairgrounds) and started the competition at 9:00. We all placed everything quite well except for 1 class each. It wasn't the same class (except for two of us) but everyone majorly screwed up one class. I screwed one up even worse than I had thought but must have filled in the wrong space on the sheet. Arrrgggg. :( So we judged 8 classes (Commercial heifers, Market hogs, Hampshire Ewes, Market Lambs, Breeding gilts, Market steers, Performance gilts and Boer goats) and gave 4 sets of reasons (Commercial heifers, market lambs, market swine, performance gilts). Some of those went rocky for me but I also got a my record high score of 44/50! We were rather discouraged that evening so thankfully we were able to go out to dinner with the rest of the chapter. We did see where a huge tanker explosion had been right on the highway in Indy. It had been so big that it had charred the billboards on either side of the bridge and I also heard that it had charred a nearby cellphone tower. You can get more info on it here. That night we all just relaxed. We were done, no more reasons, no more tests. Woooohoooo! :) I got to sleep around 10:30.
Friday morning, up nice and early again. It was rainy and nasty so traffic was moving slowly (which we were all getting rather used to at this point). We got to our awards banquet which began at 8:30. We were thrilled that NONE of us got a bronze (the rate you bronze, silver or gold). 3 of us got silver and Jake got a gold! I was SO close to getting a gold but no I had to screw that one class really bad. :( Oh well, it was all good. Our team got silver and actually placed in the top half of the silver teams! We placed 22nd overall out of 43 teams so really, not horrible. My total points were 569/700. Average score was 546/700. High was 645/700. Our total team score was 1,832. In our team, Jake got 1st, I got 2nd, Tyler got 3rd and Logan got 4th. So that's kinda the jist of that. We went to the FFA store after that and Jake and Logan bought the boots they had been wanting so badly. I looked for the belt buckle but they were sold out. :( So we went and listened to some of the Creed Speaking Finalists. At noon we headed out, only stopping to change out of our OD (official dress) and grab a bite to eat. About an hour out of Indy we noticed that the tire was making a funny noise. We got out and looked at it but didn't see anything wrong. About 10 min. away from Coldwater it was really really bad and our Adviser looked at it while driving slowly and saw that it was wobbling really bad. All of the nuts were loose so we had to get that fixed. Dad came and picked me up and we got home around 4:00.
Here's something I wrote while passing the time waiting for classes to be exchanged during the competition. It kinda sums up how it feels to have so many FFA members from around the country with you.
It's an exhilarating feeling when the streets of a downtown Indianapolis are crawling with teens from all over the country who are all dressed in the FFA official dress of black skirt/pants, white blouse and FFA jacket. They are all here for the same reason, they have a love of agriculture. Weather it may be for livestock, environment, leadership or speaking they are all united in a common field. Some are competing, showing the skills they have accomplished. Many are here for the simple reason of learning, having fun and meeting other like-minded teens. When so many teens are showing their enthusiasm, you don't feel so small or so insignificant. Our voice can be heard through this coming generation!
Here are a few pictures of the week:
Our hotel room
Our team @ the awards breakfast from l-r : me, Tyler, Jake, Logan
Our team! from l-r Adviser Mrs. Hines, Tyler, Jake, me, Logan and teacher Mrs. Preston
Our team again w/ our plaque Tyler, Jake, me, Logan
So anyway, that's about how my week went! It had it's ups and downs but it was a wonderful experience overall. Now we get short break from livestock judging and probably won't start up for a few months yet. Next year.....our goal is 4H nationals. :)