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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

1

It's National FFA Week, did you know? It probably depends on how you are or have been impacted by FFA.

The official name of the organization is the National FFA Organization. The letters “FFA” stand for Future Farmers of America, did you know? It probably depends on if you wore a jacket or knew someone that wore a jacket.

FFA members live the motto Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live and Living to Serve, did you know? It probably depends on if you stood and spoke those lines from you heart.

Ok enough, because some of you probably don't know...

FFA changed the trajectory of my life. Let me say that (or type that) again. FFA changed the TRAJECTORY of my life! As a freshman in high school I joined our local FFA chapter and signed up for Ag classes. It was just something I knew I would do because I grew up on a farm and why wouldn't I? I didn't know what was going to transpire over the next 4 years though.

Backing up to freshman year, my Ag instructor (whom was pivotal in changing my life) asked me if I wanted to go to the National FFA Convention. My first thought...

Does she not know I am scared to death to stay away from home? (I had only stayed at one friend's house at that point in life.) Does she not know that I can't be away for that long?

Fast forward to my mom chaperoning and driving a van to Kansas City! Passengers- me, my husband (just my friend at the time), and his cousin. Yep, I went to the National FFA Convention (as long as my mommy went, too.) Guess what? I LOVED it! For the first time in my life, I was around like- minded, goal oriented, TEENAGERS!

Fast forward another couple of years and it was game on, I wanted to do everything I possibly could with FFA. I even took a trip to Washington D.C. (without my mom, but with a childhood friend 🙂 ) on a bus with other FFA members. I participated in contests, speeches, ran for offices, and did all of the things. I even chaired a committee at the Iowa FFA Convention and then spoke in front of that enormous audience of members.

You may be thinking ok, we got it, you learned to sleep without your mom. 🙂 Honestly, though, all of those experiences literally changed the trajectory of my life. I learned how to handle myself in a job interview, I learned how to speak in public, I learned how to run a meeting, and I learned how to sell products, I learned about finances, marketing and keeping accurate records. I learned how to set goals, and I learned how to communicate with others like me and those that weren't like me. The list could go on and on of all of the amazing lessons I learned during those 4 years. I remember standing at my senior FFA banquet sobbing and sobbing because it was coming to an end. My now father-in-law grabbed me and gave me the biggest bear hug because I literally could not get control of my emotions. The thing I didn't know then standing in the gymnasium that night is that what I had experienced in FFA was not coming to an end. It was just beginning. Life as an adult was just beginning and there is not a single day that now, today as a 38 year old woman, I don't use SOMETHING I learned or look back at something I experienced in those 4 years.

FFA changed the trajectory of my life and there are not enough words to thank those that pushed me to "Shoot for the moon" for all of those years. It made a difference!

From the Gravel Road-

Jen

Were you a member of the National FFA Organization? What did FFA teach you? Prior to reading this, did you know that the National FFA Organization existed?

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