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Marshall FFA heads to National Convention as one of nation's elite

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Marshall FFA members (from left) Abrea Mizer, Cale Boedeker and Kayla Elson have spent countless hours preparing to present a powerpoint presentation highlighting the chapter's activities as one of the nation's top 10 Models of Excellence finalists. The National FFA Convention in Indianapolis will begin Wednesday, Oct. 24 and close on Saturday, Oct. 27.
As they head to the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Ind., Marshall FFA members are still trying to grasp the enormity of their accomplishments thus far.

Last spring, the chapter exceeded their goal of moving up in the standings as Missouri's top chapters, by being named number one in the state. Their awards continued when they learned in August they had been named one of the top 10 FFA chapters in the nation as Models of Excellence finalist.

"I think it is such a great honor. I don't know if everybody understands how big," said Callie Dobbins, one of Marshall's three FFA advisors. "There are almost 7,500 chapters, and we're one of the top 10."

Since August, three FFA members, Dobbins and the other two advisors, Jason Price and Randy Plattner have spent countless hours preparing to take the dream even further.

"It's wonderful to actually set a goal, work hard, and then see not only do you achieve that goal, but you achieved more than you ever dreamed to achieve," Dobbins said. "I think it's that feeling we're being recognized for doing our best."

On Wednesday, FFA members Abrea Mizer, Cale Boedeker and Kayla Elson will present a 10-minute power point presentation about the chapter's activities and then answer questions for another 10 minutes.

Mizer and Boedeker will be speaking and Elson is in charge of setting up the power point and computer equipment. She also had to learn both parts, in order to step in if one of the other two are unable to present.

The powerpoint will highlight nine of the chapter's activities, three each in student, chapter and community development.

"Some of those are our best activities, some of those are our most unique activities and some of those are the activities we excel at," Dobbins explained.

The goal is to differentiate the chapter above all the others in the nation.

"I'm sure we do the same thing most chapters do," Dobbins said. "But what is it that makes us special?"

The chapter will be recognized, along with the nine others, on Thursday at 2 p.m., (1 p.m. central time) in front of a sea of blue jackets at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Then just one of the chapters will be named the Model of Excellence award winner.

"I really think right now we're on a mission," Dobbins said. "That's to do the best that we can while were there, and hopefully take that number one spot."

However, no matter what happens on stage Thursday, she said they won't be disappointed.

"How can you be disappointed when you are in the top 10?," Dobbins said. "It's just such a phenomenal thing."

For the students making the presentation, long hours of preparation, being grilled with practice questions and attending a state practice contest and workshop in Jefferson City, has prepared them to face the five to seven judges.

"I can say as a teacher, this group has come in and worked so hard to prepare for it, so there is no question whether they are ready or not," Dobbins said.

Mizer said, even after all the preparation, the reality of their accomplishment is still sinking in. "It's hard to describe. I want to take it all in. But even to me, and I've been involved, it's just hard to even think about and understand," Mizer said. "I'm not really nervous for the presentation. I'm just excited."

On Monday afternoon, the Marshall High School student body had an official send-off congratulating FFA members for their accomplishments and wishing them luck for the convention.

"It's amazing to see how much pride they have in FFA," Mizer said.

The Marshall FFA will be receiving other awards during the national convention.

Dobbins will be one of just 57 teachers nationwide to receive the Honorary American Degree.

Marshall will also be recognized as a 3-Star National Chapter and three members will be receiving the American Degree.

The entire convention, which opens at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 24 and closes on Saturday, Oct. 27, will be televised on RFDTV.

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