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FBLA National Conference 2017

More than 9,600 of America’s best and brightest high school students traveled to Southern California to establish their own Legacy of Leadership as they competed for the opportunity to win more than $170,000 in cash awards.  The Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) National Leadership Conference was held June 29–July 2 in Anaheim. Participants from across the United States and abroad attended this exciting conference to enhance their business skills, expand their networks, and participate in more than 70 business and business-related competitive events.


More Fairfield High School  Students  attended National FBLA Conference than ever before!  Twenty four members of the Fairfield High School Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) recently returned from attending the annual FBLA National Conference in Anaheim California from June 28 through July 2.   Students are eligible to attend national if they earn top rankings at the State Leadership Conference held in Coralville in April.  The largest group ever taken before from FHS was 15 which calculates to a 60% increase.


This year, Fairfield High School Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) Elijah Parr, earned seventh place in the nation in the Economics Objective Test Event    That is quite the accomplishment since he earned  the ONLY top ten awards from the state of Iowa.  In addition, the team of Savannah Kelley and Anuja Pharasi were one of three teams in the state of Iowa in the top 16.    


The award was part of a comprehensive national competitive events program sponsored by FBLA-PBL that recognizes and rewards excellence in a broad range of business and career-related areas. For many students, the competitive events are the capstone activity of their academic careers. In addition to competitions, students immersed themselves in interactive workshops, visited an information-packed exhibit hall, and heard from motivational speakers on a broad range of business topics.


Local advisor Diane Goudy had the students reflect about the conference.  The students and what they said follows:


Jacob Scotton (Intro to Business Presentation) said the power of branding was a workshop that I went to and I realized that by branding a product you are helping yourself so that others can’t steal it and sell it for their own profit.


Bryanna Popejoy (Intro to Parliamentary Procedures) attend the workshop called Demystifying the College Search workshop.  She said I learned knowing what you want in a college will help you the best in finding the college that suits you. I also learned to broaden your horizons when looking for a college.


In addition, the focus was for the students to continue their competitive events participation.   The purpose of the events is for students to increase their knowledge base and refine their presentation skills and competitive spirit.   The conference does NOT focus on winning, but does focus on students maximizing their potential in all the conference activities.


Logan Williams (Global Business) witnessed how well presentations look when they are uniformed and rehearsed.  Aaron Haines (the other partner in Global Business) said he –I went and watched a few of these presentations. . There was a group from Iowa who was just absolutely outstanding. They proved that being very loud, rehearsed, formatted, and fluent is a very good way to win over the audience and judges.  He really noticed how your volume in presentation is a key characteristic to refine.


Besides workshops and competitive events, Jackson Weaton (Intro to Business Presentation partner) noted that networking with people that you do not know is the best way to make a conference great. It is lots of fun getting to know new people.  It is better than just spending time with your chapter


Julia Fritz (partner in Intro to Business Presentation) and second-year national attendee said taking opportunities to learn new things is one way to make a conference great. If you expose yourself to things that you aren’t familiar with, you have the opportunity to learn about things you like or don’t like. Some success tips she learned was to practice presenting to several different audiences, take advice, consider things from all angles, and organize your information well. FBLA is a great organization and has so many different events that can teach you many things and allow you to have a good time while doing it!


Although Elijah Parr competed in Economics, he took advantage of observing other events.  He viewed several digital video production presentations.  For the most part, the participants in the event had no prior video experience (like me) so they described all of the things that they learned from starting out as beginners to where they ended up at the end of editing their video. Some common themes were how certain angles were used to establish a mood. For example, in a more suspenseful trailer, a high angle shot of a girl descending down stairs was used to create a feeling that the character was entering a point of no return. Another common element of the trailers was the uses of music. Of course, there were a bunch of other elements but it was just cool to see how things like lighting and music were used to manipulate the viewer and establish a certain feeling or mood, experience or knowledge on how to even go about creating an online business


Jada Lippincott partnered with Katherine Hull in E-Business. Prior to this, I had no idea of how to make a website. I took an opportunity to learn something new and it ended up being one of the most fun things I have ever done in FBLA. It was also exciting to watch the other E-Business teams present and to compare your own to theirs


Katherine Hull reiterated that this category was definitely a challenge but was rewarding in the fact that I learned an enormous amount of information about website design. When my partner, Jada Lippincott, and I picked this topic we had no idea what we were getting into, but it ended up being one of the best experiences I have had in FBLA. Going to nationals for E-Business really opens your eyes to some of the amazing talent we have in the country. FBLA National Leadership Conference 2017 is something I will never forget.


Hermela Gebremariam competed in Business Ethics. I think a key part of this category is to provide solutions to the ethical dilemma that is given to you. Make sure to first be unbiased and present both sides, state your opinion then state the solution. Also visiting campaign booths can be a lot of fun and may inspire you to run for office someday! In conclusion, NLC can be tiring and you may want to nap in your room the whole week, but taking advantage of those experiences will be worth it in the end!


Madison Kraemer competed in Website Design. Some advice if you were to consider this topic— try multiple website creating tools or try coding. Don’t find one idea and not consider anything else.  Make sure you explore, and use all that you can to make the website its very best. There are usually a lot of really cool (and professional-looking) features that you have to search for or build yourself. Also be sure to focus the majority of your presentation on the designing of the website. Not necessarily the website content. Besides your event you can attend workshops, watch other events and visit the campaign area. (They will give you lots of free stuff so go visit!)  Overall, be prepared, don’t stress and do your best. Your whole community is behind you, and supporting you no matter what the outcome of your event is!


Devika Pharasi- I competed in Public Speaking I at FBLA NLC. One tip I have that will help you succeed in FBLA is to not stress. Make sure to work hard but don’t psych yourself out, because when that happens, you tend to overthink. The second tip I have is to read the rubric.   She went on to say that FBLA not only provides practical skills but an experience of a lifetime. FBLA will only be fun if you make it fun!


Savannah Kelley – I competed in Emerging Business Issues  with Anuja Phasi and shared “I worked really hard on our project and ended up making something that we were really proud of and that we cared a lot about. We definitely wanted to do well at nationals and having that clear focus made the conference a really great experience because we felt that we were truly a part of FBLA—we weren’t just at nationals to watch other people or do side trips in Anaheim—we were serious competitors. So my advice would be to compete in an event that you are really interested in and then commit yourself to working hard in that event.


Shannon Morrissey (Insurance and Risk Management Competitor) said “ I’m not a judge, obviously, but over the years I have noticed certain things that presenters can do to make themselves stand out. First, if you can give your presentation without note cards, solely off of memorization, that stands out.  Second, it’s a lot more engaging to an audience if the presenter speaks and acts like they truly care about the issue, so pick something you like and get excited about it! These are just a few things that stand out for me. Although my experience with FBLA is over, I will use the skills I have learned through this organization for the rest of my life. One of the smartest decisions I have ever made was to join FBLA as a freshman, knowing nothing about the organization or what it would give to me.  The biggest thing that I’m going to take away from my last NLC is that I am capable of anything. I’ve just met kids who have published their own books or started their own successful companies so why can’t I do something like that? Nothing is too big. Finally, to whoever’s reading this: Show Mrs. Goudy some appreciation! She is crazy dedicated to your education and sacrifices so much for FBLA. So be nice to her please and thank you.


Anuja Pharasi- At the 2017 National Leadership Conference in Anaheim, I competed in Emerging Business Issues with my partner (and long-time best friend), Savannah Kelley. In the past, we had been Top 10 National winners, competing in categories that were a bit simpler and more ideal for our personal depths of knowledge. However, this year’s topic involved debating the affirmative and negative of cloud computing for businesses. When we first chose this competitive event, Savannah and I had absolutely no idea what cloud computing was. The topic was challenging, way out of each of our comfort zones. Regardless, we persevered and were brave enough to venture into the world of computer science and instantaneous information. Through various trials and tribulations, Savannah and I gave our presentation our all. We recognized Mrs. Goudy’s, the community’s, and our parent’s endless efforts to get us to where we are today. We knew the biggest gift we could give back to our loved ones was personal growth.  In the end, Savannah and I did not place in the top 10 at Nationals (although we were in the top 16). However, what’s important is that we took a leap of faith and tried something new and never let the fiery passion for FBLA within our hearts fizzle away. FBLA is one of the best opportunities available to you during your time at Fairfield High School. Use it to challenge and strengthen yourself. Use it to learn from others and share your skills with the world. But most of all use FBLA to have the time of your life and make memories that will last forever. I couldn’t be happier that I did.  Pari Nayak, FBLA freshman also competed in the contest.   Goudy said “it was awesome to watch Pari move from a very young competitor to a strong, polished presentation.  The confidence she built was amazing.”


Holly Harward, a recent FBLA graduate. This year I competed in electronic career portfolio and I learned a lot about the resume process and presenting myself in a genuine yet professional way. I have attended nationals for the past three years and every year I improve in some sort of way. I never made it past the preliminary round however I learned from the completive edge I will need in the workplace. I am glad I was involved in FBLA in high school learning something from every meeting to every conference. Mrs. Goudy was one of my most hardworking and inspiring teachers I had in my high school career due to her passion for helping tomorrow’s leaders. Students should use FBLA conference as an experience to experience another part of the country while learning lifelong skills


Sarah Davisson said FBLA has helped me immensely from when I began freshmen year to now as a graduated senior.  I have gained many skills that will help me as I go throughout life, including; public speaking, networking, and time management. Throughout my four years this organization has given me lifelong friends and connections to help me in the future when in the working world. Our community has had a major effect on all our success, as they have donated throughout the years to get us to these competitions and they are behind us 100%, which is amazing, because not many communities have that. I have so many memories from FBLA and it is bittersweet finishing off my FBLA career in Anaheim competing at the national level.


Other students attending the conference included Cami Schaefer and Lauren Ward in the Business Plan event.  Goudy said it is one of the most time-consuming and challenging events there is in FBLA.  They not only did a verbal presentation to judges of their business idea, but they also sent a full written business plan to the national judges for pre-judging.


The fact that copyright laws needed to be followed in presentations was reinforced to Amanda Carminhato (Health Administration) received the reinforcement that copyright laws need to be followed in all presentations.


Kailey Kaska (Marketing Team with Ella Pollet) watched students who knew how to improvise when things don’t go as planned. Using technology can sometimes bring a non-functioning surprise minutes before the presentation and the students need to handle whatever situation that arises.


Danae Drish (Spreadsheet Applications) a second-year attendee had the opportunity to experience nationals with her first-time attendee chaperone mom, Diana Drish.


Each year, students across the state of Iowa, have the opportunity to design a pin to represent Iowa at national conference.  The pins are traded from student to student.  For the first time, the Fairfield team of Madison Kraemer and Allison Godwin created the winning pin.  The students were given a sheet of paper, a set of markers, and 60 minutes to sketch their pin design.  No sketches that were pre-drawn could be taken into the competition room – only the ideas in their mind.  Even more unique was the fact that their pin actually was traded to students from the China chapter.  This reflects the international influence within FBLA.  Who would have thought a Fairfield Iowa FBLA pin would end up in China?


The community was very supportive both in terms of mentoring and in financial contributions.  In March, the local community had the opportunity to attend or help mentor FBLA students at the local pre-state Showcase helping students.  Major financial corporate contributors included:   Agri-Industrial Plastics, Hill Phoenix, Fairfield Manufacturers,   Dexter Laundry, Dexter Apache Holdings, Libertyville Savings Bank, and Hy-Vee.      In addition, the local Rotary club members and many, many individuals in the community showed their financial support on behalf of their belief in the goals of the program and in the students themselves.    Students also worked hard throughout the year raising funds from pasta night, Krispy Kremes sales, cleaning the football stadium, working concessions, and more.      Any community  group,  business, or individual  who would like to hear from students personally or have them present a program, please contact Goudy.


Local chaperones included parents Beth Greiner-Ward, James Scotton, Reena Nayak, and Diana Drish.  FBLA four-year national qualifier and national winner, Hanna Kerr asked to be a chaperone and she said!


  • It was unbelievable to see how Fairfield FBLA has grown, increased student success, and gained community support in the past four years.

  • As an alumni, attending the National Leadership Conference reminded me of how influential FBLA was during my high school career. I hope current members realize the crucial skills they are learning through FBLA and how fortunate they are that FHS has an excellent chapter and advisor, Mrs. Goudy.


Beth Greiner-Ward, Co-President of the Fairfield Friends of Student Business Leaders group attended as local chaperone.  She shared “it was a fabulous experience the FBLA students had at Nationals in Anaheim, CA this past week.  I have never been to a conference with this many attendees, close to 12,000 (with almost 10,000 being student  members).   I walked away from this weekend inspired for our students and thankful for the exposure and education that they received while there.   Our students were able to see some of the best and brightest in our country.  They were witnesses to the fact that hard work and dedication pay off.  They were able to see that there are many, many bright and articulate people in the world.  The exposure they had to decision making, teamwork, patience, and budgeting was invaluable.”


Any community person or business who would like to be more involved in the program is encouraged to join the adult Fairfield Friends of Student Business Leaders.  For more information, please contact Co-Presidents Beth Ward or Lindsay Lippincott.  The process of obtaining sponsors and mentors for next year’s has started.   The 2017-18 National Conference will be held in Baltimore, Ohio.  Any student or parent who wants more information about the student FBLA group can talk to any former FBLA members or Goudy at FHS.  Her email is: Diane.goudy@fairfieldsfuture.org or the school phone number 641-472-2059




ellijah parr 7th place national economics winner fbla 2017.JPG


Elijah Parr, earning 7th place in the nation at the FBLA National Conference.


Fairfield FBLA brings home the ONLY top ten award in Iowa at the National FBLA Conference




FHS FBLA brings the largest group in its history of top ranking students to the national conference in Anaheim.




Anujah Pharasia and Savannah Kelley earn top 16 in Emerging Business Issues FBLA competitive event