For almost 40 years, Bill Stagg has shared the story of agricultural education and FFA throughout the country. Recently, the longtime director of strategic communications for National FFA announced his retirement, but not before sitting down with Janet Adkison on “FFA Today” to reflect on his time with the organization, and what comes next.
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Want to keep up with the National FFA Convention & Expo?
Get LIVE coverage on RFD-TV and RURAL RADIO throughout the rest of the week (Oct 19th-21st)! Over the last few days, FFA Today has met with important FFA specialists to get an inside look on the exciting things to look forward to throughout the convention.
Hear about all things FFA related on our weekly broadcast, “FFA Today”. The show airs on Saturdays at 7:30am ET and again on Sundays at 5pm ET. Tune in LIVE, online, or via the Sirius XM app to Channel 147.
Cindy Hefner, program manager for the National Officer Management Team at the National FFA Organization joins us on “FFA Today.” Each year, everyone looks forward to the grand reveal of convention’s theme song to set the energy and tone in the arena for the next four days. This year’s song is based on the convention’s theme, “Transform,” decided by the officers, who had to describe what that word meant to them in the context of developing agriculture.
“FFA Today” contributor and host of the Off-Farm Income Podcast, Matt Brechwald interviews Scott Jacobs, Career Development Events (CDE) education specialist, who manages the CDE competition process at the National FFA Convention. Over 3,000 FFA members participate in 25 different CDEs throughout the convention.
“FFA Today” correspondent Micheal Clements catches up with Keisto Lucero, Education Specialist for National FFA, who gives a behind-the-scenes look into the officer selection process during the National Convention. A selection committee is created through nominations of current National FFA participants, followed by a series of interviews and practice speeches.
Brothers Brian and Darren Hefty are a busy pair. From helping with day-to-day operations at Hefty Seed Company to running their own farm operations, hosting Ag PhD on television and radio and being active husbands and fathers.
Q: What do you like most about hosting on RURAL RADIO?
Brian: It’s the same thing I like about being an agronomist; working with lots of different farmers and trying to help them make the best decisions for their operations. It’s tough to be a farmer and if I can help in even a small way I feel like I have done what I am called to do.
Darren: I am always looking to learn more about crop production so I can get higher yields on my farm and help others do the same. Talking to other farmers and industry experts on Ag PhD Radio each day is a blast. I’m learning something all the time.
Q: How did you get your start in Radio/TV?
Brian: Darren, my Dad Ron, and I started the Ag PhD TV show in 1998. We felt that farmers had a need for more agronomic information, and we knew we could help.
Darren: We made the decision to start Ag PhD TV back in 1997 and I spent that summer with a cameraman filming everything I could think of so we could produce half-hour shows in the spring of 1998. I learned so much that summer and had a lot of fun, too.
Q: What was your favorite episode or guest of the first radio season?
Brian: We have had many farmers on the show who have raised enviable yields in corn, soybeans, and wheat. We farm too, and my goal is to get 400-bushel corn and 100-bushel soybeans someday, so it is a lot of fun talking to farmers who are currently doing it.
Darren: I have really enjoyed talking to the 400-bushel corn farmers about how they are achieving that level of production. There are only a handful of these guys so far. I would love to join that select group someday.
Q: What can listeners look forward to in the next year on your show?
Brian: More info on raising better yields profitably while at the same time improving the land and the environment. We don’t spend much time on farm news, grain markets, or the weather, because farmers can’t control those things. How to better control weeds, properly fertilize, or other agronomic topics may not be the most exciting things for some, but for those of us trying to thrive on today’s farm, they are exactly the issues we need to discuss and learn more about in order to turn a profit and feed our growing world.
Darren: I’m excited about our summer radio shows because we’re talking about what’s actually happening in fields and taking live calls from farmers who are going out today to stop a pest or feed a crop. Also, we’ll be at Farm Progress, Commodity Classic, and some other key events around the country during the next year.
They had to answer some fun ones too…
Q: Favorite food?
Brian: A smorgasbord of well-prepared meat…prime rib, chicken, pork loin, turkey, etc.
Darren: Brian and I are both pretty serious about fitness. I’m getting pretty famous in the Ag PhD studio for bringing in a protein bar to have right before or after the show. Our production staff ribs me pretty hard about that sometimes. Oh, speaking of ribs, I love to grill just about any kind of meat. More protein. Big surprise!
Q: Favorite vacation spot?
Brian: My wife and I went to Bora Bora a few years ago. It was one of those bucket list things, and it was amazing.
Darren: Lots of good ones to choose from, but my favorite vacation spot so far has been going to Yellowstone National Park with my kids.
Q: What’s your guilty pleasure?
Brian: Fantasy baseball. I love coaching baseball, too, but when it comes to my guilty pleasure I enjoy competing against some buddies from college for a traveling trophy that I have won four out of the last 12 years.
Darren: I have a sweet tooth and the trappings of summer like ice cream, sweet tea or lemonade, always get me. I can’t say no to that.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about summer?
Brian: Heat. This year we had about 8 months of winter, so I was so thankful when I could finally go outside with no coat on. Obviously it’s also great to see the crops growing and for all the things we have prepared for all fall, winter, and spring to finally come to life.
Darren: Getting outside. I love being out in fields while the crops are growing. Spending time outdoors with my family is great, too. We especially like going on bike rides and the kids are getting into geocaching which has been fun as well.
Q: I can’t help but turn up the radio when ______comes on…
Brian: Rural Radio aside, I am a big Minnesota Vikings fan, so if I ever hear something about them or one of their games, I’ll listen!
Darren: My favorite sports programs are on. This time of year I like to listen to baseball games mainly to hear the stories the best broadcasters tell.
Learn more from Brian and Darren on Ag PhD Monday through Friday at 3 p.m. ET! Brian and Darren discuss topics ranging from how to maximize your fertilizer program, stopping yield-robbing insects, crop diseases and much more. Plus, you’ll enjoy the weekly segments such as Farm Basics, Iron Talk and Weed of the Week. Follow RURALRADIO 147 on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date with the AgPhD!
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The annual national convention and expo, which will take place in Louisville, Ky., in 2015, hosts more than 64,000 attendees from across the country. The event is estimated to have an economic impact of $36.2 million for Indianapolis during 2016.
The national convention and expo will utilize downtown venues, including Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Lucas Oil Stadium, the Indiana Convention Center, the Indiana State Fairgrounds and eight event hotels.
“The National FFA Convention & Expo, much like the National FFA headquarters, is right at home here in Indiana,” said Gov. Mike Pence. “Indiana is ready and committed to support this event and welcome with open arms the 64,000 FFA members who will come to our capital city each of the next nine years. Today’s news confirms that Indiana’s reputation is strong and growing stronger, and I appreciate FFA’s commitment to build on our already-robust agricultural heritage in the coming years.”
“Indianapolis is excited to welcome back the National FFA Convention & Expo,” said Mayor Greg Ballard. “Not only does this commitment create an estimated $36 million in annual economic activity for our residents, but FFA is a model conference dedicated to volunteerism and community service that Indianapolis is privileged to host.” The National FFA Convention took place in Kansas City, Mo., from 1928-1998. Louisville then hosted the event from 1999 to 2005, with Indianapolis being the host city from 2006-2012. In 2009, the organization announced the national convention and expo would rotate every three years between Indianapolis and Louisville, with Louisville hosting the event 2013-2015 and Indianapolis hosting the event 2016-2018.
As the membership of the organization has grown so has the attendance of the national convention and expo. Following the 87th National FFA Convention & Expo, the board of the National FFA Organization reviewed the two cities and made the decision to move the national convention and expo to Indianapolis for 2016-2024.
“Our members are tomorrow’s future leaders in agriculture,” Dr. Dwight Armstrong, the chief executive officer of the National FFA Organization, said. “We are excited to introduce these future leaders to the city that FFA calls home.”
“Visit Indy, the City of Indianapolis, and the State of Indiana have an outstanding partnership with the National FFA Organization,” said Leonard Hoops, president and CEO of Visit Indy. “We look forward to delivering a great experience for FFA student members, advisors and families for many years to come.” The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 610,240 student members who belong to one of 7,665 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
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About National FFA Organization The National FFA Organization is a national youth organization of 610,240 student members as part of 7,665 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. The National FFA Organization operates under a federal charter granted by the 81st United States Congress and it is an integral part of public instruction in agriculture. The U.S. Department of Education provides leadership and helps set direction for FFA as a service to state and local agricultural education programs. For more, visit the National FFA Organization online atFFA.org, on Facebook, Twitter and the official National FFA Organization blog.
About National FFA Foundation
The National FFA Foundation builds partnerships with industry, education, government, other foundations and individuals to secure financial resources that recognize FFA member achievements, develop student leaders and support the future of agricultural education. Governed by a 19-member board of trustees comprised of educators, business leaders, individual donors and FFA alumni, the foundation is a separately-registered nonprofit organization. About 82 percent of every dollar received by the foundation supports FFA members and agricultural education opportunities. For more, visit FFA.org/Give.
Click here to download National FFA Convention & Expo B-Roll