FFA members continue to give back to national convention host city

Photo provided by National FFA

Student members are exemplifying what it means to live to serve during the 95th National FFA Convention and Expo.

This week, more than 2,000 members are volunteering at 15 different locations throughout the Indianapolis area.

Haley Bode, the Illinois Association FFA State Secretary, helped plant tulip bulbs at Newfields, an art museum in Indianapolis.  

“The Illinois FFA state officers and our national delegates volunteered with the Indiana FFA state officers. We’ve known each other throughout the year so it was really fun to get to interact and plant bulbs and know that we’re having fun with each other, but we’re also serving the community and serving Indianapolis as a city,” she says. “It was super cool getting to plant those bulbs. We planted them around a water fountain and more students are going to go back and finish up the project we started. It feels good and it’s really fulfilling to be able to do community service, not only for the blue jacket but also with people that you enjoy spending time with in the blue jacket.”

Audio: Haley Bode

Kelly Korte is the horticulture volunteer trainer and manager with Newfields.

“Over the course of this week we’ll pant about 50,000 bulbs for our spring blooms and clear invasive species in the art and nature park and in the gardens,” he says. “On average we clear about four acres of invasive species in the week that FFA is here.”

He tells Brownfield FFA volunteers make a huge difference.

“It’s so much more than what our staff could accomplish even over the course of a year. In this one week we’ll have 800 volunteer hours just from the FFA,” he says.

Audio: Kelly Korte

Jennifer Williams, local engagement specialist with the National FFA Organization, says there will be an on-site service project again this year.  

“Our goal is to make just under 1500 travel book pillows in partnership with a local organization called Book Pillows of Hope. The organization’s goal is to put a travel book pillow in the hands of every child in Marion County,” she says. “…The goal is to provide comfort through reading so these pillows have a pocket in the front that will be stuffed with age-appropriate books that can be given out when there is a child in need so we’re excited to see our pillows come to life with FFA members.”

She says FFA members gain a lot from volunteering.

“By serving our students learn how to be active members in their community. It also gives them an opportunity to really put that leadership that FFA works to teach and instill in them into action and to also give back,” she says. “A lot of people support FFA and so it’s nice to show that we’re appreciative and we want to help grow strong communities just like they’re supporting us.”

Audio: Jennifer Williams

The book pillows are donated to schools, hospitals, first responders, and more. Each pillow takes about one hour to complete. Members will also design bookmarks to be delivered with the pillows. The service activity is available during the National FFA Expo hours.

There will also be an evening service activity at 6 p.m. tonight in Indiana Convention Center room 138-139. Members will learn how to adress the needs of pet homelessness while making pet toys for Indianpolis area shelters.

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