Craig The week of Oct. 23, 12 Moffat County FFA members, Moffat County FFA adviser Rick Murr, and chaperones Maureen Wilkey and Dave Summer flew from Denver to Indianapolis, site of this year's National FFA Convention.
The convention was attended by FFA members from every state and Puerto Rico. Approximately 35,000 members were there for the opening session.
For three Moffat County FFA members, the convention meant competition.
A "meats" judging team, made up of Colton Murray, Cassie Moon and Brandon Seick, won the right to compete at the national level after winning the state contest in Fort Collins back in April.
The meats contest includes the identification of 40 retail cuts of meat and meat evaluation (meat grades). Colton Murray explained that in order to train for the judging contest, the members make trips to grocery stores and Brothers Custom Processing.
Murray said that at the grocery stores, Murr points out cuts of meat and the members identify the type of cut. At Brothers Processing, the members study beef carcasses and determine the grade - "choice," "prime" and others.
He added that retail identification involves beef, pork and lamb, but grading involves only beef.
So, Wednesday at the National Convention, prior to the meats contest, Murr and the team members practiced. That evening, the members took the written meats test, the first part of the competition.
The multiple-choice test covered questions consumers commonly asked.
The next day, judging team members competed in the meat identification and grading part of the contest. A number of stations were set up, and students rotated from station to station at 10-minute intervals, answering questions about the meats that had been set out. Answers were marked on sheets that were graded by computer.
A special awards banquet just for the meats contest was held Friday night of the convention. Moffat County's meats judging team received a silver award, and Murr said that they were in the top 14 teams in the nation. More than 30 teams participated in the contest.
The theme for the National Convention was "Blue Jackets, Bright Futures."
While the meats team was busy with its competition, the other FFA members were attending sessions that addressed their bright futures.
Maureen Wilkey explained that the convention events were held at the convention center, RCA Dome, and Conseco Field, all within walking distance. Members went back and forth to various sessions.
Wilkey was impressed by the inspirational messages that came from a number of keynote speakers. Among the speakers was Kacy Baugher, National FFA Secretary, who spoke about reaching for the opportunities in life. Another of the speakers was Jamie Cecil of Fowler, the National Central Region vice president.
Wilkey said more than 500 exhibits covered a wide variety of information. For example, the American Horse Association was there. So were colleges and universities - including Colorado State University - with information about agriculture programs.
Chevrolet - a national FFA sponsor - was there as well as tractor companies.
There were exhibits concerning new developments in agriculture and much, much more.
Wilkey said the city closed a street - named FFA Way Street - running from Conseco Field House to the RCA Dome.
"When the FFA members walked on the street, it was a sea of blue," Wilkey said. "It was very impressive."