Thousands of FFA members from throughout the country, are converging in Washington, D.C. this summer, to evaluate their personal skills and interests, develop leadership talent, and create service plans that will make a difference in their communities.

More than 2,300 students registered for the 2018 Washington Leadership Conference (WLC), the second-largest student experience that the National FFA Organization hosts each year. Created in 1969 and held annually, the conference begins June 5 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel and a new group of members attends each week. Sleepy Eye FFA Chapter Officers, Cassidy Hoffmann - President and Macy Schenk - 2nd Vice President, attended WLC July 17 to 21.

Hoffmann and Schenk spent the week under the guidance of professionals, counselors and FFA staff. In workshops, seminars and small groups, members focused on identifying and developing their personal strengths and goals while undergoing comprehen-sive leadership training that will help them guide their local FFA chapters. The capstone of the event was a civic engagement activity where participants applied what they learned to a hands-on activity.

Members analyzed the needs of their communities, began to develop wide-ranging and high-impact community service initiatives, and will implement their plans with the help of their FFA chapters in the upcoming year. Students in recent years have promoted agricultural literacy; brought attention to abuse; collected and distributed shoes to individuals in Haiti; created a hunger awareness plan and more.

FFA members, including Hoffmann and Schenk, experienced the history of the nation's capital and toured landmarks including the Washington Monument, the National Mall, Arlington National Cemetery and the U.S. Capitol, among others. Members also had an opportunity to participate in congressional visits during the week with U.S. Senators Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar.

The 2018 Washington Leadership Conference is sponsored by title sponsors CSX, Monsanto, Farm Credit and weekly sponsor Valent. Locally, the students received Minnesota FFA Alumni scholarships and Sleepy Eye FFA Booster support. For more information, visit FFA.org/WLC.

“WLC is definitely an experience to remember!” said Sleepy Eye FFA President, Cassidy Hoffmann. “We visited monuments, museums and the capitol, as well as learned about diversity, advocacy, and service. They showed us that it is important to help others as much as we can and make a difference in our communities.”

Macy Schenk, Chapter 2nd Vice President, added, “We learned a lot about things that happen in our very own backyards that we didn’t know about and how we can help serve those people to help them get back on their feet.”

The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 653,359 student members who belong to one of 8,568 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization is also supported by 344,239 alumni members in 2,051 alumni chapters through-out the U.S.