FFA relocating South Dakota convention to Rapid City

Janelle Atyeo
Regional Editor, Tri-State Neighbor

In nearly 100 years of FFA history in South Dakota, the state convention has been held on the South Dakota State University campus in Brookings, but this spring, the event is set to move West River.

The 93rd South Dakota State FFA Convention will be April 11-13 in Rapid City. Events will take place at the Central States Fairgrounds, Kjerstad Events Center and Western Dakota Technical College.

COVID-19 caused the 2020 convention to take place virtually and is behind the move to Rapid City. Restrictions on social gatherings and outside visitors are still in place on the SDSU campus, and if case numbers spiked, there was a possibility an event would be canceled last-minute.

“We’re looking forward to being able to do it in person,” said Dani Herring, SD FFA executive secretary. It’s difficult to replicate some FFA competitions virtually, she said, listing floriculture, milk quality judging and ag mechanics as a few examples. It’s also important for members to get the opportunity to network with other students, and experience being in a room with judges, she said.

South Dakota FFA started in 1928, and since the beginning the state convention has taken place on the campus of what was then South Dakota State College. Only during World War II was the convention canceled because of gas rationing. “It’s a big move,” Herring said.

“We pride ourselves with being a hands-on organization, and we really wanted to provide an in-person convention,” Herring said. The South Dakota FFA Association board of directors voted at their meeting Jan. 22 to hold the convention in Rapid City.

The state convention in Rapid City will come with modifications due to COVID. Attendees will wear masks, and be limited to agriscience fair, proficiency award and scholarship winners, and district qualifying Career Development Events teams. Event sponsors will be welcome but distanced. There will be no student workshops, talent or choir performances.

There will be ticketed general sessions the evening of April 12 and the morning of April 13 to announce award winners and for the state officers to give their retiring addresses. FFA member receiving state degrees and star awards will get two additional parent tickets. The convention will also be broadcast through Connect Center 1 TV, and streamed virtually. The South Dakota FFA Foundation is still seeking industries to invest in the event and sponsor awards.

For program details, visit http://sdffafoundation.org/ or https://www.sdaged.org/ or contact Dani.Herring@sdstate.edu.

State FFA officers, who are all SDSU students, will lead the convention. Pictured is State Reporter Dirby Bawek, back left; Vice President Jackson McFaden, Secretary Hunter Eide, and Sentinel Ryder Mortenson with President Samantha Olson, left front; and Treasurer Elizabeth DeBoer.