Army engages students at FFA convention

By Jerry MeridethNovember 18, 2019

FFA student tackle pull-ups at Army Interactive Zone
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Exhibit brings Army experience to FFA
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Helping Army accessions
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Future Farmers of America member Aiden McCallas steps up to the pull-up bar in the Army interactive area at this year's national convention in Indianapolis. The high school student from Dadeville, Alabama is looking for a career.

"I think it's good that they're here showing what jobs you can get in the Army," McCallas says. "I wasn't aware that the Army had so many career opportunities," McCallas says.

The Army interactive area at the 92nd FFA Convention sprawls across the exposition floor. There's a lot to do.

Veterinarians from Fort Campbell Kentucky provide samples of meals ready to eat. Military police stage a working dog exhibition. Meanwhile, U.S. Army Marketing and Engagement Brigade (USAMEB) Soldiers from the U.S. Army Mission Support Battalion (MSB) and Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) join Army recruiters from the Indianapolis area to engage students, parents and educators. There's even a top-40 band, titled "As you Were" provided by the MSB.

The Army interactive area supports Army accessions, generating 4,000 leads from the 65,000 people attending the convention, Oct. 30 -- Nov. 1.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Anderson watches the crowd. He's one of the MSB exhibitors from the National Conventions Division charged with assembling Army displays. FFA is one of the Army's biggest events.

"It's going to be pretty busy," says Anderson. "FFA members are asking about the food -- what it tastes like. For the dog handler, a lot of them want to do that job."

There's also plenty of Army technology to pique the interest of visitors. AMU Soldiers at the event stage a STEM-centric Virtual Reality training system and 3-D printer. A line forms near Sgt. 1st Class Sally Talbott from AMU's service pistol team.

"Seeing young people interested in the Army is great," Talbott says. "Today the Army puts more emphasis on STEM."

FFA is the premier youth organization preparing members for leadership and careers in the science, business and technology of agriculture, according to its website.

Every year, FFA members nationwide converge on the National FFA Convention & Expo to celebrate their accomplishments and find inspiration for their next steps, according to the FFA website. More than 649,355 NFFA student members in grades seven through 12 participate in formal agricultural education instructional programs throughout the 50 United States and three U.S. territories.

Army exhibits provide Americans with an initial touch-point with their Army. Positive touch-points are instrumental in developing American's desire to serve and informing them on what the Army has to offer, according to Capt. Graham Miller, commander from Indianapolis Metro North answered questions.

"I have three recruiters working here," Miller says. "It's a team effort."

"Army displays at events increase awareness and lets people know what the Army is about," Miller says. "It breaks down perceptions and false assumptions. Everyone thinks the Army is about combat when Soldiers have more than 150 job opportunities available."