Farm broadcaster: Indy 'clueless' about FFA convention

October 18, 2010
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Gary Truitt, a longtime Hoosier farm broadcaster, has a commentary on his Hoosier Ag Today website that Indianapolis residents might find interesting.

Indianapolis, Truitt says, has little understanding of the locally-based National FFA Organization and the annual convention it hosts here (this year’s confab begins Oct. 19). Indianapolis people are “mystified” by the official blue-and-gold jackets and “bewildered by the polite, articulate, and well-mannered young people,” he says.

Truitt goes on to say Indianapolis is largely unfamiliar with the organization, formerly called the Future Farmers of America, because it has a small presence in the city’s schools.

The FFA still harkens to its agricultural roots, he notes, but also does a great job of molding leaders through “hard work, teacher involvement and strict discipline.”

“The average FFA chapter stands in sharp contrast to the permissive, self-esteem-centered atmosphere of most public schools,” Truitt writes. His interviews with FFA leaders renew his hope that the next generation “is more than a bunch of texting, tweeting, iPhone toting, Halo playing dweebs.”

Strong views for sure. What do you think? Do Indianapolis people view the FFA Convention, in Truitt's words, as “a bunch of hayseed farm kids come to the big city to party”?

  • Well...
    ... to be honest, yes - yes we do.
    • Very possible, and is that a problem? Many in the City also do not understand the Firefighters Conference and the good it brings the city (in training and education) in allowing many more local firefighters to attend than if it was in Dallas or San Diego.

      I do think most understand the FFA is good for the City, just not exactly all they do. Tell a city resident that there are competitions in dirt judging, and I think they would look at you oddly.

      Of course if Truitt thinks non FFA kids are all "a bunch of texting, tweeting, iPhone toting, Halo playing dweebs.â??, then I feel sorry for him.
      • Unhelpful
        As someone who works Downtown and sees the FFA kids quite a bit when they are here, I've never heard anyone describe them in such a way. I think most people in Indianapolis recognize that they are kids, they don't live here (generally) and it is rare for them to go to "The City."

        It is certainly unhelpful, if the quote is correct, for Mr. Truitt to foment dissension between the two groups of Hoosiers. Calling the city folk (albeit somewhat indirectly) "dweebs" is pretty strong stuff and not particularly polite. So what if the "city folk" don't know all about what the FFA does? The FFA folk don't know everything about what I do either. We are all human (Hoosiers, even) and, frankly, not as different as he apparently wants to portray.
      • Welcome
        Although "the Blue Coats" seem to be misred, they are 50,000 of the most polite students you'd want to be around and they give us hope for a better America. Can we say that about most student groups of this size? Mr. Truitt is spot-on. Welcome Blue Coats!
      • Dweebs?
        Almost all of my IPS-graduate son's universe of (city kids) friends from JROTC are currently active or reserve military. I could easily adopt an outlook like Truitt's: those who aren't like my son and his friends are "texting, facebooking dweebs". But even if I THOUGHT that (which I don't), I wouldn't write it for attribution.

        Maybe it's (past) time for Truitt to report on some other kinds of "farm" news, such as wind farms or server farms.
      • Iphone toting dweebs
        As one of Adult"â?? texting, tweeting, iPhone toting, Halo playing dweebsâ??(I prefer Geeks) I think the FFA is jealous of the Gen Con and the other show that attract more TV time and column inchs than they do. Role-players in costume make better copy than a gaggle of fresh face teenagers in their blue jackets. Many residents don't know what the FFA does because the FFA does do anything to tell it's story. At least Gen Con puts ads in the paper, enbraces Geek Culture, it's up to the FFA to sell itself to Indianapolis not the other way around.

        • Us vs Them
          Mr. Truittâ??s column is a joke. Iâ??ve never read any of his material before so his inaccuracies might be a fluke, but over 70% of public high school students in Indianapolis graduate high school. Apparently Mr. Truitt found a figure from 2.5 years ago from a private group, Americaâ??s Promise Alliance (APA), that said 30% of students graduate on time. The Indiana Department of Education claimed that for the same period that APA found a 30% graduation rate for Indy, they found a nearly 50% rate. Clearly the data are different and Iâ??m not going to look into the particulars of how each group conducted their surveys and came to their results. I just checked out the Indiana Department of Educationâ??s website and researched quickly all the public high schools in Indiana. The latest data for grad rates of high school kids is about 73%, far higher â?? and much less dramatic â?? than how Mr. Truitt portrays my city.

          Interestingly, using the same data, I learned that Scott County has a graduation rate of 67%. That would lower than Indianapolis and something Mr. Truitt might find of particular interest.

          And where is all the animosity toward the blue jackets? Iâ??m downtown often and Iâ??ve never seen the FFA kids taking doses of abuse from residents of this city. Is there a widespread mean streak from us urban folk Iâ??ve somehow missed? I love the FFA kids. No, they donâ??t spend nearly as much cash as attendees of a conference twice their age, but there are a lot of them and the economic impact is big and welcomed! And, yes, kids who grow up on farms can be different from kids who are raised in cities, but no matter where home is, teenagers tweet, use iPhones, play video games (Halo is a super-old reference) and generally have the same lives.

          I grew up on a farm around generally conservative people, and if Mr. Truitt wants to generalize then I will to. In my opinion, Truitt is just portraying his old-white-guy-ness about how the world is changing around him and how he doesnâ??t like it. Itâ??s an Us vs. Them attitude that certainly doesnâ??t help and is basically pathetic.

          One last note: Mr. Truitt, if you care to, you can follow the FFA on twitter at
        • FAA Reinforces Values
          Two years ago when the FFA was here a teacher driving a school bus loaded with kids from Georgia sidswiped my truck at a local hotel. Since the bus was big and my truck small, he didn't know he hit it. Some of the kids sitting on that side of the bus saw the truck move when the bumper grazed it and called out to the teacher/driver that he just hit that truck. The teacher/driver promptly parked the busload of kids and waited on a bench by the door until I came out of the hotel. He showed me what happened and then called the police, his insurance needed a police report. The guy was probably in his mid to late 30's, very nice young man. He couldn't believe I was not mad at him for damaging my truck. How do you get mad at a guy who waits for you to come out of the hotel to tell you he damaged your truck. (His school's insurance paid for the repair, it was almost painless) That young teacher was a product of FAA and is now a leader. This country could benefit from many more of these young people.
        • Huh?
          What is the deal with all the censorship on these boards as of late? I do not understand at all why my last comment was deleted but I must say I find the entire idea of a censoring blogger more than just a bit ironic.
        • never
          I've been downtown when all of the 50,000 FFA kids are in town, once. Never again. It is a zoo.
          • FFA
            I have to say that his comment is rude and ridiculous. I may live in Indianapolis now, but I came from a small Indiana town and grew up on a farm. My school had an FFA chapter, and while I wasn't a part of it, I'm quite familiar with it. There are many of us transplants from small towns who are very aware of what the FFA is.

            I happen to work downtown - my building is connected to Circle Centre also and while there are over 50,000 of these kids, they are not a problem - sure, it's a little more crowded, but other than that, they're very polite and well behaved. I cannot say the same for other conventions with kids.

            Why are media people always trying to stir up an "Us VS Them" mentality to everything? We're all just people - we may have different interests, but the sooner we learn to respect people who are different from us the more pleasant this planet will be. Mr. Truitt would do well to remember that.
          • Really?
            For those of you "city folk" who don't like downtown when the FFA convention and others are in town, do you realize how much revenue this brings to the city? The FFA kids are so well behaved and have helped put Indianapolis on the map. If you don't like it, then please leave.
            • Happy to have them
              I work downtown within spitting distance of the mall and the Fieldhouse, and I'm happy to have the visitors and the economic impact. And the convention always gets plentiful local media coverage. To suggest that we city folk aren't aware of them and/or don't appreciate them and/or can't imagine that youngsters would be so well-attired and polite is just ridiculous. (Really, to suggest that we should keep abreast of all the major convention activities downtown, 365 days a year, is silly in itself.) We have plenty of well-behaved school kids downtown on a daily basis to see shows at ISO and IRT, or to perform at the mall. Strange that Truitt feels the need to stir things up.
            • UPDATE
              Re: "Happy to Have Them"
              I just returned from lunch at the Hyatt/PNC Center, and saw roughly three dozen teens in the lobby, slumped in couches, and staring intently into their iPhones and other mobile devices. Surely, these aren't the FFAers, who are above texting, Tweeting and iPhoning.
            • Right on the money
              I have to assume that Mr. Truitt, being the premier AG broadcaster in Indiana, is certainly well versed in "telling it like it is" rather than sugar-coating what we would like to hear. He is right on the money in all his observations and still retains the utmost respect for the FFA Convention. Very pleased the FFA is in town. Let's put out the welcome mat big time for their entire stay.
            • Missing the REAL point
              Every year I look forward to the throngs of up and coming youth of FFA. It is refreshing to see our youth enthusiastically pursuing a future for themselves (and others who benefit from their knowledge). As far as I've seen, and I work downtown, almost everyone in the city welcomes them with open arms.

              Yeah, there's a lot of them. ...a lot of good kids, learning and doing good. (If you don't like crowds, then stay out of downtown for a few days -- or move to the "country", ironic, huh?!)

              More power to them.

              While we may not know everything about the FFA and what they do, I think it is safe to assume we know it is a well-respected organization and group of people. Is our lack of knowledge of FFA particularly a "problem" (or even our fault?) Does it mean we don't care? No.

              Maybe Truitt could could himself do a service for Indy (rather than diss a whole city -- which happens to host their annual event as well as serve as their headquarters). Rather than a negative article about our perceptions, he could write an article about what all we should know. Does FFA have a marketing budget? Maybe he could use that to inform the general public. Maybe he should do some guest-speaking on WFYI, NPR or other radio shows to inform the general public...he could make a better effort himself.

              The fact that we do not know everything about them is a non-issue. Do we know everything about Firefighters, the NFL Combine, or even the GenCon crowds? No. We know a little about them (enough about them without becoming a member ourselves). Do we respect that they are here in Indy, hosting their conference and boosting our economy...yes.

              No reason to get down on the city folks, rather you should be focusing on rolling out "the welcome mat big time for their entire stay".
            • On the map...
              Wow, so FFA put Indy on the map? Not the speedway, or the great years of the Colts or Pacers? Not the booming biotech industry? Not the great museums and attractions? The FFA is the only thing the city has going for it?
            • Welcome to Indy
              Glad to have the kids visit here. Hope they are told to watch their back so they don't get shot by the locals.
            • That is what is interesting about blog sites. You disagree with someone and then it comes out that you hate whatever it is that is discussed. I do not think anyone here hates FFA. In fact I see most on here heartily support them. They see the good they do, rather it be the green they leave or the good works they do while they are here.

              I think more people have an issue with Farm Broadcaster Truitt claiming that city kids are "a bunch of texting, tweeting, iPhone toting, Halo playing dweebs". If that is not what he meant, that is what most got out of the article. We love the FFA. I saw a bunch walking around last night downtown and they were having a good time without being obnoxious as some kids are. And they did so without driving their tractors, spitting tobacco on the sidewalk, stopping traffic as they stare at the buildings that are taller than their grain elevator, and saying "golly wait till the folks back home hear about this". Just wanted to stereotype back at Truitt.
            • Who needs technology?
              Please feel free to facebook or twitter Mr. Truitt you feelings about how city folk are bad and country folk don't need technology;)

            • you think FFA's bad?
              @HarveyF: If you think going downtown during FFA is a zoo, try going downtown during Black Expo!
            • Off Base
              I'm an Indy resident, but consider myself well-read, well-traveled and knowledgeable about the city, the state, the country and the world and assume that many Indy residents are the same and do have at least rudimentary knowledge of FFA. While I'm sure that there are some Indy people who don't know about FFA, generalizing about groups of people is usually a mistake and often insulting. I have never heard anyone make the kind of remarks that Mr. Truitt mentions. Given their stellar behavior, I usually just hear about the "well-behaved group of young people wearing blue jackets." If Mr. Truitt had half the manners the FFA participants have, he would not have issued such an ill-advised statement.
            • Off Base
              I'm an Indy resident, but consider myself well-read, well-traveled and knowledgeable about the city, the state, the country and the world and assume that many Indy residents are the same and do have at least rudimentary knowledge of FFA. While I'm sure that there are some Indy people who don't know about FFA, generalizing about groups of people is usually a mistake and often insulting. I have never heard anyone make the kind of remarks that Mr. Truitt mentions. Given their stellar behavior, I usually just hear about the "well-behaved group of young people wearing blue jackets." If Mr. Truitt had half the manners the FFA participants have, he would not have issued such an ill-advised statement.
            • Truitt
              City folk vs. farm folk. This Truitt is doing the FFA a big disservice. What a jerk. As for the FFA kids, I'm sure most of them are going to be great leaders - I hope they enjoy their convention.
            • First time in Indy
              My family's first visit to Indy was due to the FFA convention. While I think the city has some greatness going for it, I think I understand what Mr. Truitt means. There were 50,000 kids there plus parents and friends. I have traveled to many cities for similar and larger conventions. From an outsider's perspective, it appears that the city is ill prepared to deal with the masses. For example, dining was a horrible experience because there were little or no restaurants adequately staffed to handle the crowds. Even though most of the crowd was comprised of students, the ones I heard were shocked at the lack of respect they were shown as patrons. I spoke with a great number of folks from advisors, parents, students, and parents that are looking forward to a day that the convention returns to a town much better suited to receive the crowd and much more appreciative of their dollars.
              • Two Sides
                I think downtown residents and vendors have become pretty familiar with FFA and its convention. A conference of its size requires lots of help from area partners and facilities. I do think the conference could stand to pay for more public safety - to help move people and traffic through downtown.

                If the FFA feels that Indianapolis doesn't know enough about it's organization, then it needs to do a better of job of being a year-round partner in this city. You only seem them trying to be a community outreach partner one time a year.
              • Indy hosts huge events all the time
                Fred: Perhaps restaurants were caught a bit off-guard the first time the FFA was in town as they learned the rhythms and preferences of the attendees. But Indy regularly hosts conferences with tens of thousands of attendees and does so with great aplomb. That's why meeting planners gave Indy a host of accolades in the most recent issue of Convene Magazine. You sound like someone who would like to see another city get the FFA Convention.
              • dining out
                There probably aren't 50,000 restaurant seats in all of Downtown Indy. Restaurants can't be built or staffed for once-a-year peaks, and Indianapolis can't function like the small-town downtowns some FFA commenters are used to.

                The places with MORE restaurant seats are bigger convention/tourism cities like Orlando and Las Vegas. Smaller cities like Louisville (Indy's recent competition) wouldn't be better.

                Perhaps FFA should plan more meals in the catering facilities at the Convention Center, or set up a cafeteria/buffet option there.
              • Don't say ALL...
                We were in a downtown store picking up a few things before heading back to the office during this conference. The guide that was with a group of kids was visibly frustrated with a clerk over what she thought was an incorrectly charged item. The clerk went back to look at the sign while these people held up a VERY long line. The clerk fixed the error and checked out the rest of their group. As they were walking by one of the girls said "That STUPID woman still didn't get this right" and she and the still visibly upset parent went back to yell at the clerk some more. I love the comparisons that get made because these are mostly rural non minority children they are somehow â??aboveâ?? their "City" counterparts. Bad behavior is bad behavior no matter what you look like or where you come from. I was aghast at how nasty this group was to someone who is simply working what is probably a minimum wage job to take care of herself and her family. They aren't ALL polite, well mannered and disciplined.
              • used cars
                I appreciate the concern which is been rose. The things need to be sorted out because it is about the individual but it can be with everyone.The initiative taken for the concern is very serious and need an attention of every
                used cars
              • GROW UP
                Then Maybe the FFA Should not be there and you can lose all that income from sales. GROW UP.

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