"The vision for this facility started 20 years ago as a goal to benefit Iowa's most valuable asset - our youth," said Angela Fredericks, a former state FFA officer who serves as director of the FFA Enrichment Center. "Now the dream has finally become a reality."
Located near Ankeny's new Prairie Trail community on the campus of Des Moines Area Community College, the 60,000-square-foot center is designed to help future generations of Iowans prepare for rewarding careers in agriculture.
During the open house more than 400 FFA members and guests toured the $13 million facility, which boasts a spacious exhibition hall that can accommodate trade shows, six breakout rooms, a biotechnology laboratory, a state-of-the art communications center and new computer labs.
These facilities will provide hands-on learning activities that promote leadership development, personal growth and career success for more than 12,000 Iowa FFA members and DMACC students enrolled in the Veterinary Technologies and Agribusiness programs.
As the newest conference center in central Iowa, the building also features a large conference room that can seat more than 500 people and can be split into two rooms, as needed.
The FFA Enrichment Center already hosted a major conference for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Justice in March.
"This facility is a national treasure that will allow Iowa and the FFA to lead out loud," said Rob Denson, an Iowa native former FFA chapter president who serves as president and CEO of DMACC.
Leaders envision the possibilities
The FFA Enrichment Center is the result of a vision and hard work from many FFA Foundation leaders, FFA chapters across Iowa, agribusinesses and other industry sponsors, Ankeny city leaders and DMACC officials who are dedicated to Iowa youth and agriculture.
A number of "high five" FFA chapters across the state raised a minimum of $5,000 to help finance the new facility. In addition, six organizations and individuals were honored as Crystal Donors for contributing $1 million or more, including Stine Seed Company; Dennis and Susan Albaugh, of Ankeny; the City of Ankeny; DMACC; Monsanto and the Iowa Farm Bureau.
FFA members said they are excited to get to work in the new Enrichment Center.
"It's great that there have been so many people willing to invest in Iowa's youth and this conference facility," said Ryan Augustine, the 2009-2010 Iowa FFA president. "This is a great contribution to our state and all our FFA members, and the potential here is outstanding."
The Enrichment Center marks a major step forward for the Iowa FFA, which has helped generations of young people pursue successful careers and make a lifetime of informed choices related to global agriculture, food, fiber and natural resources, said Wayne Nattress, executive director of the Iowa FFA Foundation.
Steve Dakin, vice president of the Iowa FFA Foundation, who owns Dakin-Ag Equipment in Boone, has seen first-hand the positive difference the FFA had made in the lives of Iowans.
"There is so much potential here in this building that we can't begin to imagine it all," Dakin said. "When I see all of these blue FFA jackets out here, I know my future is in good hands."