Skip to content

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

They watch everything we do…

Our children watch everything we do, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I know this, we all know this, but as we are in the thick of county fair season I have been reminded of it once again.

Red Ribbons

I am not proud of the next few sentences I am going to type, but I am an open book and always share because I know my storms and trials may help others.  Our family started off last week with static judging at the county fair.  Both girls had projects, Ellie for Clover Kids, and Grace for 4-H.  They had both worked really hard, just like all of the kids do to prepare for the county fair.  Grace confidently marched to get in line to get judged on her quilt that she had made. As she walked away from me I couldn’t help but think about the pep she had in her step as she walked away.  I watched as she talked with the judge, shared about her project, and pointed to her goal page and pictures that she had compiled. 

I must have been looking away as it ended because when I looked up Grace was walking towards me WITHOUT that pep in her step.  As any mom would do I said, “What’s the matter?”  Her response, “I got red and she said I could have done better.”  My horrible response that I wish I could take back (imagine my tone), “You, got a red?!?!” Then when I saw the tears welling up in her eyes I just threw her next project at her and told her to get in line with her scotcheroos and cookies.

Being the worrywart that I am I have replayed my reaction a million times in my head.  Do I wish I would have responded differently? Absolutely!  Did she/I learn something from it? Absolutely! I was truly just shocked, not mad.  I knew how hard she had worked on that quilt, but in the end, how hard a parent thinks their child worked on a project doesn’t impact the color of ribbon that is given by the JUDGE.  They are the judge for a reason.  Once I was able to gather my thoughts I was able to respond totally different when she walked back towards me with 2 blues and consideration to the state fair and we talked about what she might have done to improve her quilt to make it a blue ribbon quilt. Had I not done that and took a different approach to the red ribbon the entire day could have gone a different direction.  When we laid our heads down that night I told her to never let the red ribbon take away from the 4 blue ribbons and consideration for the state fair that she had received, but use it to encourage her to try again next year.

So why am I telling all of you this story?  Over the next few weeks of county fair season your children, grandchildren, neighbor children, or club members are going to be watching YOU.  They are watching how you react, interact with others, volunteer, and how you handle THEIR wins and losses. 

These children are the future volunteers at our county fairs and in our communities and they are making memories that will last a lifetime.  They will follow in our footsteps and lead another generation of 4-H and FFA members.  I encourage all of us to truly think about the comments that we make about that hog that wins that we think was too fat, that red ribbon that we think should have been a purple, or giving of your time to clean a neighbors pen or sweep all of the aisles (just because) even if it isn’t your kids' aisle.

Remember they watch everything we do…

What are some of your favorite county fair memories or experiences?

From the gravel road,

Jen

%d bloggers like this: