O'Donnell, Clark awarded American Degrees at convention

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The West Holmes FFA chapter traveled to National Convention in Indianapolis, Ind., on Oct. 24-27. The 14 members who attended National Convention were: Liz Overholt, Matt Schelgel, Dustin Niehaus, Sam Krejci, Mandy Taylor, Clay Armstrong, Harlie Spurlock, Paige Miller, Shyann Kick, Beth Klien, Megan Miller, Justin Lorentz, Dylan Harsh, and Elise Neville. Additions to the members were chaperones and graduates, Ms. Rosales, Mrs. Taggart, Jaime Chenevey, Aaron Clark and Garrett O'Donnell.

On Wednesday, the chapter went on a tour of the State House and to the Air and Space Museum. At the State House, members had the opportunity to listen to a Representative speak, they also toured where the Senate and House of Representatives meet, and toured the State House. During the Tour of the Air and Space Museum, the chapter walked around and looked at the historical documents, the airplanes and had the chance to sit in airplanes and even sat in airplane simulator games. Finally, the members went to the first session of the 85th National FFA Convention. The speaker was Olympic Gold Medalist, Scott Hamilton who gave the message of "Never give up even if you find complications in life; find something you're passionate about and go for it." Hamilton was diagnosed with testicular cancer and had a brain tumor, yet he overcame all obstacles thrown out to him, but still went out on the ice.

On Thursday, the chapter went on a few tours while graduate Aaron Clark attended the Proficiency Award Luncheon and interview process. The chapter's first tour was to Not Just Popcorn, a business with more than 250 different flavors of popcorn. Members were able to watch how the products were made and taste the flavors of some of the popcorn. Some of the flavors that were tasted were: Bacon Cheddar, Taco, Biscuits & Gravy, FFA Mix and Dill Pickle flavoring. Then, the members toured Umbarger Show Feeds, where they were able to learn more about the business, see the flaker, the mixer and other machinery. The chapter then toured Indianapolis Motor Speedway, learned about its history and walked on the tracks. Finally, the members attended the Buckeye Bash, where the Ohio FFA Chapter get together for a dance.

On Friday, the chapter supported Aaron Clark as he walked on stage as a National Proficiency Finalist. Last May, Clark won Ohio's Proficiency area, Diversified Agricultural Production. Although Clark did not take the top spot, he won a trip to Costa Rica. Then members went to a shopping mall and a college fair. The chapter spent the rest of the day at the Convention Center and listened to speaker Josh Bleil.

On Saturday, the chapter watched graduates, Garrett O'Donnell and Aaron Clark, receive their American Degrees. The American Degree is the most prestigious award given to anyone in FFA. It is a very challenging degree to achieve, but its rewards are worth it. In order to get this degree applicants must have obtained the Greenhand Degree, Chapter Degree and State Degree; they also must have been involved in FFA for at least three years, graduated at least one year prior to the National Convention, invested a total of $7,500, have good leadership skills; been involved in a large number of community service activities and maintained a "C" average or higher. There were 3,245 American Degrees given.

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