INDIANAPOLIS — For more than 50 years, thousands of FFA members from across the country have converged in our nation’s capital each summer to engage with legislators, hone civic engagement and leadership skills, and create community impact projects to take back to their cities and towns.
The National FFA Organization’s Washington Leadership Conference (WLC) will take place from June 6-July 22 at the Omni Shoreham, with six weeklong sessions for FFA members to choose from. More than 2,000 FFA members from throughout the country are expected to attend the 2023 conference, the second-largest student experience that National FFA hosts each year, only behind the National FFA Convention & Expo that draws more than 70,000 attendees.
FFA members will spend the week under the guidance of agricultural and leadership professionals, facilitators, and FFA staff who will guide them through workshops, seminars, small group activities, and visits to national landmarks such as the National Mall, Arlington National Cemetery, Smithsonian Museums, and the U.S. Capitol. Each day of the conference focuses on a different principle taught through the context of our nation’s capital: exploration, encouragement, advocacy and service.
FFA members will have the unique opportunity to participate in congressional visits during the week with legislators from their states. Members can share concerns and challenges from their communities and discuss agricultural-related legislation.
Living to Serve
The capstone of the conference is the development of a Living to Serve Plan, a civic engagement project that participants will implement in their communities after returning home.
To develop this Living to Serve Plan, members are asked to analyze the needs of their communities before attending WLC. Students can lean on their FFA chapter advisors to implement the plan upon returning home. Examples of projects in recent years include promoting agricultural literacy, bringing attention to abuse, collecting and distributing shoes to individuals in Haiti, and creating a hunger awareness plan.
WLC Living to Serve Success Stories
Nadia Walker, an officer of the Nicholas County FFA in the Licking River Region in Kentucky, attended WLC in the summer of 2022. During her time in Washington, D.C., she created her Living to Serve Plan around establishing a food pantry after her community was hit by a devastating flood, the worst natural disaster to hit the area in recorded history.
“I always knew I wanted to make a difference, but I never truly knew how,” says Walker. “When I attended WLC, I saw that even I could make a change. After attending WLC, The Hive Pantry came to life.”
Walker’s pantry was placed in the lowest income area of the county and prioritized providing nutritional, preservable food.
Another student who attended WLC in 2022 was Natalee Bray, an officer of the Pike Valley FFA in Kansas. Her Living to Serve Plan was to create a Safety Day with her local elementary school in partnership with Progressive Ag, where she taught more than 150 students about agricultural and farm safety.
The 2023 Washington Leadership Conference is sponsored by Merck Animal Health, Syngenta, Farm Credit, PepsiCo, Rabo AgriFinance and Growth Energy. For more information, visit FFA.org/WLC.
The National FFA Organization is a school-based national youth leadership development organization of more than 850,000 student members as part of 8,995 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
–National FFA Organization