Greenbush-Middle River FCCLA students Bella Burkel, Berlyn Burkel, and McKenna Bennett did some line dancing for about an hour at a dance studio in Nashville, Tenn.
“We went with actually everyone from the state of Minnesota (to line dance), which wasn’t very many people,” Bella said, mentioning how it was one of the highlights of their recent trip to Nashville, “but it was a fun experience to have.”
Besides this, along with some different restaurant and shop visits, it was all business for these girls on their trip to Nashville for the 2021 Hybrid FCCLA National Leadership Conference. These three GMR FCCLA students made the trip to the national conference with their assistant advisor, Brittany Burkel, from June 27 to July 2. There, Berlyn and McKenna advanced with their national STAR Event projects, and McKenna and Bella performed duties related to their work as newly elected state officers.
They talked about this experience, including their STAR Event projects, what they did at the conference, what they enjoyed most about the experience, and words of thanks they had. They also discussed why they would suggest others to participate in FCCLA.
As for those STAR Event projects, the two GMR students put together and submitted videos of their national-advancing STAR Event projects and didn’t actually present in Nashville, as part of the FCCLA’s hybrid conference.
Participating in the category of “Food Innovations,” Berlyn had to take a vintage pastry recipe and make modifications to it to make the recipe healthier, for example lowering sodium and carbohydrates. She made a small bite-sized strawberry pop tart, one filled with pastry and topped by frosting.
“I chose the project because… it was just kind of visually appealing to me,” Berlyn said, “because it just seemed (like) something that would be fun, to try to have a challenge, to make differences in your food kind of.”
Her project was the same as her state level one with the exception of one modification. She changed the frosting a little, using a different type of sugar. She earned gold at the National Conference for her project.
Competing under the category of “Repurpose and Redesign,” McKenna made a quilt out of her grandpa’s button-up shirts and jeans. Her grandpa passed away a couple years ago.
“The reason I chose this project is because I wanted to have something that I could have and remember my grandpa by,” McKenna said, “but to also have it, I don’t know, to pass on to my kids one day.”
McKenna didn’t make any changes to her project from the state level one. She earned bronze at the National Conference for her project.
Earlier this year, Bella had earned the FCCLA State President Elect position and McKenna the State Treasurer position. Down at the National Conference, they performed various duties related to their new leadership positions.
As state officers, they acted as Minnesota’s voting delegates. As part of this role, they attended different “meet and greet” events/speeches with the national officer candidates. They also had networking sessions with these national officer candidates virtually, but while at the national conference, giving voters an opportunity to ask the candidates questions.
All these events gave voting delegates a chance to get to know these candidates more before submitting their votes.
“We did a meet and greet, but… you don’t get as much time (with those),” Bella said. “You kind of got more one-on-one perspective (with the networking sessions), and you got to ask them certain questions, and just see more how they work.”
McKenna helped Bella decide on candidates, and Bella ultimately placed the final ballot virtually while at the national conference. The opportunity to be involved in this voting process surprised McKenna.
“I didn’t really know I was going to be a voting delegate until we were at the airport going there (to the national conference),” McKenna said. “… It was fun.”
In her role as an election voting delegate, Bella also had the opportunity to vote on different business measures related to the national program— something she did virtually a week before the conference.
Besides voting, the two GMR state officers also led some state meetings. These meetings gave them a chance to connect with their members. They attended different sessions or trainings, including a diversity panel— something Bella considered “very interesting.” They also both attended a training specific to state officers.
The three girls visited various restaurants and shops and did the line dancing. Outside that, their conference schedule kept them busy with activities. They didn’t make a visit to the Grand Ole Opry, McKenna mentioned.
“Especially with voting delegates, we didn’t have big enough chunks of time to go and do something,” Bella said. “It would have had to be really quick.”
McKenna added, “We wouldn’t have had enough time to actually get the full experience of going to those places.”
To see the complete story, read the July 21 issue of The Tribune in print or online.