Julia Hamblen is making the most of a difficult situation.
The 2020 Shelbyville High School graduate accomplished her goal of becoming the Indiana Future Farmers of America State President only to have the normal routines and experiences altered by a worldwide pandemic.
“If you would have questioned me 2-3 years ago if I would have done this I would have said absolutely not,” said Hamblen. “This is horrible.”
Still, Hamblen opted for a gap year before enrolling at Purdue University to get the experience of FFA leadership and administration.
Indiana FFA State President Julia Hamblen
“I knew it would be different,” she said. “It’s not how I dreamed of but I am satisfied with what we’ve been able to do. We are a team that no one will forget.”
Hamblen is one of seven young men and women running the state chapter from the FFA facility in Trafalgar. She still has approximately five months left on her one-year commitment.
This week, Indiana FFA is celebrating 2021 National FFA Week.
“Our goal is to share the message,” said Hamblen. “A lot has been done in the past year. We want to celebrate with our members.”
On Tuesday, Hamblen stepped foot inside a school for the first time in almost a year when she visited the Seymour FFA chapter. Her senior year was cut short in March when COVID-19 made school learning at Shelbyville virtual.
Hamblen graduated and chose the unique opportunity of FFA leadership before starting her own agricultural education track at Purdue.
One of her tasks is to increase enrollment in FFA to help students gain knowledge through classroom instruction and hands-on work-based learning.
Indiana currently has more than 12,500 FFA members spread over 215 local chapters in 90 of the state’s 92 counties.
National FFA Week runs from Feb.20-27 and gives FFA members an opportunity to educate the public about agriculture, according to an Indiana FFA media release. Chapters conduct activities to help others in their schools and communities learn about FFA and agricultural education.
Many county fairs and the Indiana State Fair were canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19. Hamblen believes the state is on track to see those events, as well as others, resume in 2021.
“That’s the goal right now … to sway back to normal,” she said. “We are advertising all our normal programming and we are hoping to have the state convention (in June).”