Pettisville FFA members Matt Rupp and Jessie McWatters were among thousands of FFA members from throughout the country who converged on 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.
Participating in Week 6, Matt and Jessie attended the conference, which began June 5 and was held at the Omni Shoreham Hotel.
Matt, a chapter student advisor and the son of Scott and Laura Rupp, said, “I thought WLC was very eye-opening to what was going on in the world. I had a great time seeing all the monuments, making new friends, and I learned a lot from the sessions.”
Jessie, chapter secretary and the daughter of Tom and Angie McWatters, said, “WLC was a great opportunity to grow and learn as an individual. We learned about the problems in the world and what we can do to help. We were also able to see several monuments and memorials while in D.C. “ McWatters came back planning to convince her fellow officers to hold another Meals of Hope packaging day at Pettisville, similar to what was done three years ago.
Matt and Jessie 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 comprehensive leadership training that will help them guide their local FFA chapters.
The capstone of the event was a civic engagement activity where the participants packaged over 50,000 meals for local people in the D.C. area. Members analyzed the needs of their communities, developed wide-ranging and high-impact community service initiatives and implemented their plans with the help of their FFA chapters. Matt has ideas about how to help raise funds for Pettisville Park. Other students promoted agricultural literacy; brought attention to abuse; collected and distributed shoes to individuals in Haiti; and created a hunger awareness plan.
FFA members experienced the history of the nation’s Capitol and toured landmarks including the Washington Monument, the National Mall, Arlington and National Cemetery. They also visited both the Library of Congress and the Air and Space Smithsonian Museum. Matt and Jessie were very impressed with the changing of the guard ceremony at Arlington Cemetery.
The two students, along with their advisors, made a congressional visit to Congressman Bob Latta’s office. They discussed Latta’s job and current legislation topics, and visited with staff members. On the way to D.C., the group visited the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., and the Smithsonian National Zoo.
Locally, the Pettisville students earned the following scholarships: Matt, from Redline Equipment through the Ohio FFA Foundation; Jessie, from the Derek Burkholder Underclassman scholarship. Both earned scholarships from the Scott R. Nafziger Leadership Fund, and both received money from the Pettisville FFA Alumni and National FFA Alumni.
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 throughout the U.S.