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Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve.

If you have zipped up a blue and gold corduroy jacket you know exactly what those words stand for; if you haven’t you might not know that is the motto of the FFA.  I have spent a lot of time thinking about this motto this weekend (a lot of seat time will do that to you whether it is a saddle, tractor or car.) 

I have specifically been thinking about the first 2 lines and how following this motto since I was a greenhand FFA member has led me to be the woman I am today! 

Learning to do…Doing to learn

My mind started swirling a little on Friday as my Mom and I tackled a few things (just the two of us) it started with a plan to go trail riding but a feisty quarter pony thought she would give us a run for our money in the trailer loading department.  Mom and I worked together on something we had “learned to do” years ago, we kept working with her and did not give up. Once she was loaded she was unloaded and loaded again! Why? Because she needed to “do to learn” to know we weren’t going to let her by with being a stinker. 

Jen and Mom riding horses
Trail to Mitchell

After our ride and some lunch we noticed a few things that needed to be done around my parents’ farm, but in reality knew the guys wouldn’t be getting to them until November at best with harvest in full and sometimes slow swing, as it often goes.  I had never operated my Dad’s extremely fancy skid loader but knew just enough of how to run it to be dangerous, so off we went to move some bale rings around and move some bales. Next up was unloading and setting up a 14 panel round pen for the horses.  We worked together to get them unloaded, undo each wire, and set the pen up with 0 problems!  I couldn’t help but think to myself if I hadn’t been taught to tackle hard things and didn’t learn by doing I probably wouldn’t have even suggested we try to get the “honey-do list” done. We were pretty darn proud of ourselves and only needed to do one quick facetime to my honey for a skid loader question otherwise projects done and complete on our own!

Corn

Then came Saturday, another opportunity to live out the motto!  I woke up with a to-do list in my head, but that quickly changed when the decision was made to combine the cornfield to the south of our house.  I completely stepped out of my comfort zone hauled wagons with our neighbor's tractor, dumped grain, and ran the auger on my own.  Why? Because I am learning by doing and doing to learn. Learning to do things I may have never done without the drive instilled by my family and the FFA.

You see this operation is not just my husband’s operation, this is our operation and while it may be small it is still ours and it allows us to live out dreams we have had since being those young greenhands.  I wasn’t just out helping my husband yesterday either, I was doing my part to haul in our grain while using the phone to bid on cattle at auction that I had hoped we could add to our operation. I say this because I often hear it is nice of you to help out, but when I hear that I can’t help but think it is part of who I am and my role in this operation. I liken it to someone saying a Dad is babysitting.  A dad is not babysitting, they are parenting their children just like I am working on our farm. 

Jen hauling corn with a tractor and wagon
Hauling corn

Without the motto of Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to serve on repeat in my head I am not sure I would have tackled half of the things I have in life, let alone the things accomplished this weekend. I hope I am serving as a role model for others that need to dig in and try things to learn and serve as a role model for those wanting to tackle things that they may be afraid of trying. I am here to tell you that you can tackle the things you put your mind to and when in doubt, thanks to technology, you can always check on YouTube,  facetime a brother or facetime a husband for a little help! 😉

Jen unloading corn from wagon into an auger.

What have you tackled this weekend?

How do you live out the FFA Motto?

From the gravel road,

Jen

There are leaders in blue and gold.

There are leaders being born in blue and gold, actually in National Blue and Corn Gold.  I have witnessed it. In a time when we hear many people talking about Gen Z’ers that can’t put down their phones, live in their parents' basement and have zero social skills; I can attest to the fact that those statements are not true for every teenager! 

Judging

Last week I had the opportunity to be a judge at an FFA Public Speaking Career Development Event. I will admit I felt the butterflies fluttering as I prepared to walk in the school to judge just like I did before my first Conduct of Meetings event as a freshman in high school.  Things came full circle as I walked into the school to gather with others to prepare for the judge's meeting.

The first person I laid eyes on was my former FFA advisor. FFA and my advisor provided me opportunities that I would’ve never had and made me the person I am today, you’ve heard me say it and you’ve read about it. This post isn’t about me though, it’s about the young men and women that I had the opportunity to observe on a cold, blustery February night in Northern Iowa and those that I have had the opportunity to follow in the last few years.

Leaders

The young men and women I am referring to are leaders, leaders in those beautiful colors, and they are everywhere. They know how to shake a stranger's hand appropriately, Robert’s Rule of Order, the skills needed to land a job with a smoking job interview, and how to share their passion through public speaking. They are your future employees, entrepreneurs, future fair board members,  future educators of the next generation and above all they are leaders.

FFA and agricultural education are curating a group of leaders that has the potential to use the skills they have learned to make their mark on this world! And the world better prepare themselves because the teenagers that I had the opportunity to meet last week in Iowa and those that I know are sporting corduroy jackets across other parts of the country (or have sported jackets not too long ago) are going to leave their mark and it’s going to be gigantic.  

My nephew after receiving his State Degree

FFA Members,  keep “dreaming big and huge” and Advisors keep seeing the great things your students are doing and use the best skill you have of finding those leadership qualities in each and every one of them. 

From the gravel road,

Jen

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