Coronavirus forces FFA associations to cancel events

If this were a normal year, the 2019-2020 school year would be winding down. Plans would be finalized for state FFA conventions and competitions for career development events, as well as state officer elections for thousands of FFA members clad in slacks, skirts and blue corduroy jackets.

However, the world as we know it is stuck in a kind of coronavirus twilight zone—closing schools and restaurants, limiting gatherings of more than 10 people, and unfortunately canceling or postponing most of the events FFA members have been preparing for the entire school year.

According to Trevor Lucas, Oklahoma FFA executive secretary, Oklahoma FFA has canceled all state FFA interscholastic competitions for non-national qualifying career and leadership development events for 2020. The rest of the contests are postponed and will remain pending. Oklahoma FFA had planned to hold its state convention April 28 to 29 but has canceled the event and is hoping to reschedule in late May or early June. Lucas said he expected the rescheduled convention to take place over one day, rather than two, like usual.

“I am devastated for the state officer team and FFA members across the state, who I know have put in months of preparation and intense work,” Lucas said. “But the safety and security of students, educators and staff is a top priority.”

Missouri FFA Executive Secretary, Keith Dietzschold, said Missouri FFA’s state convention, planned for April 23 to 24 has also been postponed. No information as to when the convention will be rescheduled has been made available as of yet.

The New Mexico FFA Association has tentatively rescheduled their state CDEs for April 25 to 26. New Mexico State FFA Convention is currently scheduled for June 3 to 5 and there have been no announcements as to changes to those dates.

“Ag ed staff members are working on a contingency plan for the state convention program, state leadership development and state career development events,” Dietzschold said. “While a variety of factors go into making a decision like this, be assured that the health and safety of our students and stakeholders is always our primary concern.”

Kansas FFA has postponed all state career development events until further notice. Since Gov. Laura Kelly announced all Kansas school facilities will be closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, it could be some time before these events are able to be rescheduled.

Arkansas FFA has canceled all current scheduled events, but Sunni Wise, Arkansas executive secretary, said the state association is working diligently to ensure career development events and state convention opportunities are made possible for students at a later time.

The Texas FFA Association has postponed all state FFA activities through at least April 10, including all area and state level career development events. All events beyond April 10 are still in place for the time being—the association will decide how to proceed with future events at a later date. However, only components identified as essential to state programming will be held, including the annual meeting of voting delegates and state qualifying CDEs.

The Nebraska FFA Association has announced it will cancel the state convention, originally scheduled for April 1 to 3.  

“Our FFA Board of Directors along with the Nebraska Department of Education are working on plans for how to honor our award recipients and how to move forward in regards to our competitive events,” said Larry Gossen, of the Nebraska FFA Association. “No decisions have been made yet on what that will look like or how we will be proceeding.”

Iowa FFA had planned to hold their state convention April 19 to 21, however it has been canceled. The Iowa FFA Association will announce an alternative schedule to complete components of the conference at a later date.

The Colorado FFA Association announced the state CDE competition has been rescheduled for Sept. 11. They have stated 2020 high school graduates will be allowed to participate, as long as the local advisor and school district approve. The Colorado State FFA Convention, planned for June 4 to 6, has not been changed, but officials are closely monitoring the situation and looking into alternatives if they become necessary. 

The coronavirus has been a fast-changing pandemic, with many organizations choosing to make decisions of whether or not to cancel or postpone events day by day. To stay up to date on alterations for FFA events in your state, visit their official website or use social media for developing news.

Lacey Newlin can be reached at 580-748-1892 or [email protected].