A group of West Virginia University faculty and students brought Mountaineer Pride to the 79th National FFA Convention in Indianapolis Oct. 25-28, meeting and greeting the events more than 50,000 attendees. Faculty and students from the WVU Davis College and Potomac State College of WVU traveled to Indianapolis for the convention, establishing their largest presence yet and connecting with approximately 6,000 prospective students.

More than 55,000 FFA members, advisors and parents attended the annual event, as did a record-breaking 370 exhibitors demonstratingthe best of the best presentations of agricultural careers in the country,according to FFA Western Region Vice President Stuart Joy. More than 80 colleges and universities were among those exhibitors.

According to Stacy Gartin, professor of agricultural and extension education in the Davis College, WVU s fifth visit to the convention was a roaring success.

Approximately 4,400 students visited our booth and filled out cards requesting additional information on attending WVU , with a total of about 6,000 students stopping by from all 50 United States,Gartin said.

WVU occupied its largest space yet, establishing a 10×50exhibit manned by 19 faculty members and students. The display educated prospective students about WVU in general and the programs of the Davis College and Potomac State in particular.

FFA is a national youth organization of about 495,046 student members preparing for leadership careers in the science, business and technology of agriculture with 7,242 local chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Each year, WVU hosts the West Virginia Career Development Events, where teams of high- and middle-school students from each West Virginia county demonstrate their skills and knowledge in competitions focused on animal science, forestry and natural resources, horticulture and other disciplines.

The National FFA Convention is an unbeatable opportunity to connect with highly motivated students from across the United States and to introduce them to all of the excellent opportunities WVU has to offer,Gartin said.

Tom Brand III , a visiting instructor in agricultural and extension education, coordinated details of the trip and acted as head recruiter.

Our recruiting efforts were a huge success because of the passion and hard work of the student recruiters who went with us,Brand said.

They are truly dedicated to WVU and did an amazing job communicating the strengths and assets of the University to prospective students,he added.It was an honor and pleasure to work with such a group of outstanding students.

The Davis College is also home to a student organization devoted to recruitment, the Davis College Student Ambassadors. Members attend recruitment events and visit high schools throughout the region, sharing their experiences in higher education and promoting WVU to their peers.

In addition to Gartin and Brand, the WVU team consisted of Dan Shockey, a visiting instructor in the Davis College; Potomac States agriculture and forestry program coordinator Sandy Smith; and Potomac State instructor and farm manager Angie Kirk.

Student recruiters from WVU s Morgantown campus included: Anna Warner, senior agricultural and extension education (AEE) major from Manchester, Md.; Nona Hunt, AEE graduate student from Clendenin, W.Va.; Matt Thornton, senior AEE major from Phoenixville, Pa.; Anna Harris, senior agribusiness management and rural development major from Westmoreland, N.H.; Laura Pfeifer, AEE graduate student from Claysville, Pa.; Jamey Murray, AEE graduate student from Thornton, W.Va.; Amber Somerville, senior nursing student from Palestine, W.Va.; Tyler Wright, junior forest resources management major from Waynesboro, W.Va.; Oscar Ramirez, sophomore AEE major from Gaithersburg, Md.; and Amy Moyers, sophomore animal and veterinary sciences major from Bruceton Mills, W.Va.

Student recruiters from Potomac State College included: Beth Keller, a general agriculture major from Ripley, W.Va.; Jon Harper, a forest technology major from Keyser, W.Va.; and Jared Miller, a pre-veterinary sciences major from Petersburg, W.Va.

Financial support for the trip came from WVU Central Administration, the Davis College and Potomac State. A team of WVU administrators stopped by the booth during the event.

We want to thank WVU Provost Gerald Lang, Associate Provost Russ Dean, Vice President for Administration and Finance Narvel Weese, Special Assistant for External Relations Dave Miller and Potomac State Provost Kerry Odell for taking the time to visit us in Indianapolis and for their support of the whole effort,Gartin said.