Goessel High School Senior, Alexandria Nickel, spent this past week of her summer traveling to Washington D.C with 70 other members of the Kansas FFA Association which is hosted by the National FFA Organization. 370 FFA members from Kansas, Iowa, Colorado, South Dakota, and Missouri were able to view many historical monuments and buildings, all of which was scheduled by the National FFA Organization.
“Everyday we would go see one of the monuments or tour a museum that aligned with the workshop sessions we had that day. These included places such as the Holocaust Museum, Washington Monument, and The Capitol. Many of the workshops really dug deep on the importance of leaving your own personal legacy. Visiting these places helped us gain a greater understanding of how important these historical moments were and how they affected our history,” said Alexandria.
The itinerary included visiting the Smithsonian, The National Mall, The National Archives, and Arlington Cemetery. Not only did students enjoy the week seeing sights, they also gained many skills to bring back to their local chapter and community.
“While I was at WLC, we talked a lot about creating Living to Serve projects. One activity that really impacted me was a Hunger Banquet. During this dinner members sat at different tables and some on the floor, each having different accommodations just as different social classes do. These different seats ranged from people who got a full course meal served to them to those who would not be eating a meal at all. I sat on a tablecloth on the floor, representing a group of people who wasn’t sure if they were going to get to eat or not. This deeply impacted my understanding of what other people, even in my own community, feels every meal time. After the Hunger Banquet, I decided that I wanted my Living to Serve project to help other kids at school and make sure that they have meal outside of school lunches.”
Goessel FFA advisor Alicia Cox traveled with Alexandria.
“When we think of hunger we typically think of third world countries, but alone in the United States 1 in 6 children might not know where their next meal is coming from. Many still think that FFA is full of farm kids and showing animals, but this conference gives students the tools they need to see the leadership in themselves and give back to their communities back home,” said Alicia Cox.
In addition, students learned that advocates clearly communicate with others, something that can be really influential during this day and age. “If we are unable to share our opinions clearly and persuasively we will never be an effective advocate. I really enjoyed this topic because it taught me how to better communicate with those that may not agree with me about the industry and its value in this growing world.”
Breanna Holbert, the first female African American elected FFA president was one of many past national officers that helped lead the 6 week conference. “Another of the many topics we learned about at WLC was the importance of diversity in agriculture. My eyes were opened about how diversity has many different definitions, not just race or ethnicity. At first this idea struck me because in my local county, many of the farmers are very similar in appearance and have the same values. I had never needed to think of diversity being a huge factor in agriculture. It didn’t take me long to realize that without this concept of inclusiveness, agriculture wouldn’t be as advanced,” said Nickel.
Alexandria, of course, would not have been able to attend this conference without the help of local agricultural businesses near her hometown of Goessel, KS. Before her trip to D.C., Nickel reached out to businesses that she and her father have spent a lot of time consulting with on the farm. Sponsors such as Mid Kansas Coop, Prairie Land Partners, Team Marketing Alliance, and American Ag Credit were all those who helped Alexandria pay for this experience.
“In true fashion of the FFA Creed, the donations from these agricultural businesses helped invest in not only a school trip, but a lasting impact on our community and our chapter,” said Cox.