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Greenhand Conference 2015
Lead. Teach. Inspire. This is a common theme for agricultural education students at the University of Illinois, and it’s certainly not limited to classroom learning. On September 23rd, the University of Illinois Collegiate FFA and Agricultural Education Program hosted the annual Illinois Greenhand Conference on the College of ACES campus. Hundreds of high school students from the area attended three workshops built to introduce them to FFA principles and leadership, interact with Illinois State FFA Officers and ACES students, and begin a four-year journey as a member of the National FFA Organization.
Preparation for this event began last spring, with a committee of students and faculty booking rooms, building a theme, and designing a schedule. Efforts continued into the fall semester when pre-service teachers from AGED 421 helped to develop the content for the workshops. ACES students from all majors volunteered to facilitate these workshops, as well as lead student groups in icebreaker activities and reflection. A group of 75 college students gave their time and energy to this event to make it a success for more than 400 high school freshmen. The majority of these leaders have backgrounds in FFA and understand the importance of being involved with the organization early in a member’s FFA career.
Greenhands are first-year FFA members enrolled in an agriculture class at their high school. For many students, this was their first FFA event. The content for the workshops worked with the theme, “Catching Fire”. The students were split into groups and participated in three breakout sessions focusing on spark, fuel and oxygen. At the end of the conference, three Illinois State FFA Officers concluded the night with the importance each of these components hold to creating that fire for FFA.
The annual event continues to have a great turnout from students and teachers alike. We are proud to host active and engaged FFA members for Greenhand Conference every year, and to have willing and excited ACES students to encourage growth and learning. We hope to recognize those who attended Greenhand Conference at the College of ACES in four years when they return to continue their leadership in the agricultural industry. See you next year for Greenhand Conference 2016!