Downtown Indianapolis is awash in blue jackets at the 91st annual National FFA Convention & Expo. For the nearly 70,000 young people from across the country, many from rural areas, keeping up with technology is a major hurdle to creating a successful future.
That's why FFA has partnered with multiple major companies to create the Blue Room. It's a 17,000 square foot interactive experience for attendees focusing on technology innovation and how it works hand in hand with the evolving world of sustainability.
"We've got to find ways to increase yields," says Mike Egan with Microsoft, a major sponsor of the room.
"It essentially comes down to precision farming and the efficiency that's created through innovation and technology," says Egan. "I think these students we're seeing here in FFA are really going to drive this new economy and they're going to drive with this innovation."
From technology presentations to hands-on displays, the Blue Room caught the eye of FFA members from across the country.
"I know in rural America there are so many struggles with technology," says Artha Jonassaint from southern Florida. "I think that things like the Blue Room and FFA are just working towards making sure each student gets an opportunity to see how this works in the real world."
Technology and science remain a core part of the organization's mission. Which is why Dylan Westfall from Hermiston Oregon was wide-eyed while looking around. The room also includes a TED Talk type stage where kids could hear from industry leaders on a whole host of innovative topics.
"You don't see that every day," says Westfall. "As we go forward and look into the future, ten or twenty years from now, I don't see a job in agriculture that doesn't have some sort of technology involved."
National FFA says the talks and videos from this year's Blue Room will be available for teachers and members online starting in November.