Blue FFA Jackets, lifelong memories leave national runner-up humbled

Kathryn+Broderius+is+presented+her+reward+in+Lucas+Oil+Stadium+in+Indianapolis%2C+Indiana+at+the+FFA+National+Convention.++She+may+look+like+dot+in+this+picture%2C+but+the+venue+holds+75%2C000+people+and+this+was+as+close+as+we+could+get.+
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Blue FFA Jackets, lifelong memories leave national runner-up humbled

Kathryn Broderius is presented her reward in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana at the FFA National Convention.  She may look like dot in this picture, but the venue holds 75,000 people and this was as close as we could get.

Kathryn Broderius is presented her reward in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana at the FFA National Convention. She may look like dot in this picture, but the venue holds 75,000 people and this was as close as we could get.

Kathryn Broderius is presented her reward in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana at the FFA National Convention. She may look like dot in this picture, but the venue holds 75,000 people and this was as close as we could get.

Kathryn Broderius is presented her reward in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana at the FFA National Convention. She may look like dot in this picture, but the venue holds 75,000 people and this was as close as we could get.

Kathryn Broderius, Staff Writer

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Editor’s Note – Kathryn Broderius, who serves as an editor for our newspaper, recently traveled to Indianapolis with her FFA cohorts for the National Convention.  She placed second in the nation in her category and recounted the trip in a first-person narrative.  It is not the policy of the West Word to feature its own writers’ accomplishments unless they are truly extraordinary.  This is such a feat.  We congratulate Kathryn and are excited to share her story with you.   

A sea of blue washed over in front of me, except I was nowhere near the actual sea.  In fact, I was standing on stage at the Lucas Oil Stadium in the landlocked state of Indiana at the National FFA Convention.

The sea of blue consisted of over 65,000 FFA students from every state in the nation – including Puerto Rico – who wore their blue and gold jacket with great pride. It is one sight that will never escape my memory. 

Personally, the main purpose for the trip was to compete in the National FFA Agriscience Fair, but I was also accompanied by 17 other students who came on the trip for other reasons, such as to compete in the Ag Mechanics competition, to grow in knowledge of leadership and the vast agriculture industry, and to make some lasting memories. 

Preparation for the trip actually began back in the later months of 2018, even though I had no clue I was actually going. After I completed an experiment about food processing, a poster and a 17-page report, I competed in June at the State FFA Convention in Pueblo, where I placed first with my project, “Metals in the Fight Against Bacteria” in the Food Products and Processing category. 

If the paper sounds complicated, that’s because it was.  I tested the anti-bacterial properties of different metals while examining the chemistry behind the metal properties in relation to different types of foodstuffs.  I determined that metals can be used to prevent bacterial growth. The industry would use this information to create new ways to package and process the food that we eat.  

After the project was sent to be pre-judged in Indianapolis, I was announced as one of the top twelve finalists in the nation in August and qualified to compete at the national level.  While in Indianapolis, I had to present my findings to a panel of judges who were provided 15 minutes to ask questions about my research and conclusions. The experience was nerve-wracking – talking to professionals in the industry and sciences, while being a novice myself was overwhelming.  

The conference happens at a giant convention center in downtown Indianapolis.  The actual awards ceremony happens at the football stadium that the Indianapolis Colts play in on any given Sunday.  That’s right, me and Peyton Manning were the center of attention in the same place!

While the competition and convention itself was a sight to behold, the travel time in between was anything less than boring. Although some may not know the diverse and exciting scenery the midwest has, the college visits and industry and research facility tours in Iowa and Wisconsin made for the most interesting portions of the drive. 

Once we finally arrived in Indianapolis, our group went separate ways each day in order to accomplish our purposes. However, we all made sure to meet up in the evening to have dinner at unique places together before surviving the night at Indianapolis’ local Motel 6.

On Friday, I stepped on the competition podium alongside West’s FFA advisor Mrs. Sam Pierce and the other two top three finalists and was announced as 2nd in the nation at the fourth general session. 

The entire experience was overwhelming and humbling.  This whole article, in fact makes me feel uncomfortable, but Mr. Falter insisted I write it.  Just like Mr. Hilbig insisted I walk with the volleyball team to be celebrated. I’m proud of my accomplishments, but after 2,661 miles that were filled with many memories, laughs and experiences I would never have received anywhere else, I count the trip to be worth so much more than the actual prize.

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