Learning the formal process of running government meetings recently earned local FFA members a chance to compete against other clubs from across Ohio.
The Wellington FFA’s parliamentary procedure program took home first place in the district Dec. 5. That victory secured a state finals spot in Columbus Dec. 16, where the club finished third in its group.
Club president Alex Fehlan, a Wellington High School senior, said most lessons in the program boil down to Robert’s Rules of Order, the most widely-used basis for parliamentary procedure in the country. While not legally binding, the rules have been adopted by countless city councils, school boards, unions, and county commissions.
Fehlan and club members often refer to the program as “parli.”
“We had tests in the competition to see what we really knew about parli,” he said. “We’ll go through two items of business using Robert’s Rules of Order. Everyone has an assigned ability like adjournment, but it has to be brought to the floor correctly and restated by the chair.”
Robert’s Rules of Order are named after U.S. Army officer Henry Martyn Robert, who first published the manual in 1876 as a way to adapt congressional procedure for smaller legislative entities.
“You also have debates in parli,” Fehlan said. “Members have chances to actually persuade the judges and the other people on why their belief is the best, just like an actual meeting. Someone might discuss reasons for buying or not buying a dog. You’re basically talking the audience into believing your ideas.”
Early lessons on proper meeting etiquette and procedure can prove invaluable for students looking to move into fields such as agri-business, said the president.
“I want to work in finance,” Fehlan said. “This is great career prep no matter what you want to do for work. I know a lot of people in the group are thinking about agg-business fields. There’s a big difference between hearing about how meetings work and actually doing it. You gain a lot of knowledge that most people don’t have.”
“There’s a million different tiny little rules,” he said. “It’s very complex and detailed.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
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