Fifteen members from the Calallen FFA chapter attended the 81st annual Texas FFA Convention held July 7-10 in Dallas.

Dallas has been home to 13 Texas FFA conventions. Five of the first six Future Farmer conventions, 1929-33, were held in Dallas in conjunction with the State Fair of Texas. This year, the Texas FFA made history in Dallas.

Members set an all-time attendance record with 11,760 members and guests, surpassing the record set at the 79th Annual Texas FFA Convention held in Corpus Christi with 10,321 members and guests.

Calallen FFA members who attended the convention are Jake Martini, Roy Eckhardt, Steve Velasquez, Joe Chadic, Evan Platt, Bryan McLendon, Morgan Lowke, Allison Gajdos, Kristen Crauther, Kaitlin Byerly, Kinsley Emshoff, Destiny Startz, Sally Schroeder and Weldon Kemp.

Schroeder of the Calallen FFA Chapter served as a Foundation Ambassador at the convention. She was one of 35 FFA members chosen to serve as a Foundation Ambassador. The Foundation Ambassador program serves as the official liaison to our sponsors, special guests and dignitaries on behalf of the Texas FFA.

Members of the agricultural youth leadership organization spent the week attending leadership workshops, participating in events and activities, being recognized for their achievements and serving as the legislative body for the Texas FFA Association.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples a former state officer spoke to members. Commissioner Staples was elected to serve as state officer the last time the convention was held at Dallas in 1981-82.

More than $2 million in scholarships were awarded to FFA members and 1,352 members received the Lone Star FFA Degree, the highest degree of active membership bestowed by a state FFA association. More than 700 members were recognized on stage for their accomplishments. Members also competed for state titles in public speaking and agriscience events.

Members also heard from National FFA Western Region Vice President Riley Branch, as well as motivational speakers Krish Dhanam and Mark Mayfield.

Texas Country music artist Aaron Watson performed exclusively for FFA members. Watson is an Abilene-based artist who has released 10 records, his most successful being Angels & Outlaws.

The Texas FFA has evolved from an organization focusing primarily on production agriculture, to a broader-based encompassing organization that addresses the needs and interests of students in urban and suburban schools in addition to the rural communities from which FFA rose in 1929.

The transformation of FFA is evident through programs like the Texas FFA Agriscience Fair. The agriscience fair fuses the traditional science fair with agriculture. FFA members conduct cutting edge agricultural research to compete in categories such as biochemistry, environmental science, zoology, botany and engineering.

The Texas FFA is one of the nation's largest state FFA associations with a membership of more than 63,000 and 1,000 local FFA chapters. FFA gives students the opportunity to apply practical classroom knowledge to real world experiences through local, state and national competitions.

For more information about the Texas FFA Association visit www.texasffa.org.