by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - North Marion and Gervais FFA students and advisers spent nine days in Kentucky and Tennessee, mainly for the National FFA Convention in Louisville, Ky., which attracted more than 60,000 students nationwide. Local FFA students took the trip of their high school careers when they attended the FFA National Convention in Louisville, Ky.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The group also visited places like the Louisville Slugger museum and factory and the American Saddlebred Museum in Lexington, Ky. “Our goal has been to go every two years, but this was our first time since 2004,” said North Marion FFA adviser Joe Shepherd.

The convention took place Oct. 30 to Nov. 2, but the group made up of North Marion and Gervais FFA students, chaperones and advisers spent nine days traveling around Kentucky and Tennessee.

Having flown into Nashville, Tenn., the group toured the Grand Ole Opry, two historic distilleries, the Thomas Edison museum and the Country Music Hall of Fame.

In Kentucky, the group toured farms, Churchill Downs, home of the famous Kentucky Derby horse races, Louisville Slugger museum and factory, the zoo and a former cotton plantation. The group also toured the University of Kentucky campus.

Jacquena Bentz, the North Marion chapter reporter, said her favorite part was visiting one of the Kentucky farms.

“I raise market lambs, and they were breeding lambs to grow hair, not wool, like angora,” she explained. “I also enjoyed the University of Kentucky campus tour. It was huge and beautiful. I lost track of how many libraries they have.”

At the convention itself, more than 60,000 students from around the country participated in workshops, elections and guest speaker engagements.

“I really enjoyed hearing from Josh Sundquist,” Bentz said about one of the guest speakers at convention. “He lost a leg to cancer but he has a great attitude. He’s the best speaker I’ve ever heard.”

The whole experience of attending the national convention was overwhelming but exciting, said North Marion sophomore Derek Jones.

“It was cool to see how many kids were there,” he said. “It was a great experience for me.”

Not only was it beneficial for the FFA students to attend a national convention, but to see some of the nation’s history and landmarks was also a hands-on lesson, Shepherd said.

“Not only have these kids never been to that part of the country, but a bunch of them have never even flown before,” he said. “It was a great opportunity.”

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