As the first signs of spring are sprouting, I can’t help but be reminded of FFA’s busiest season! As we are in the midst of contest season, interviews for various officer positions and speech contests, I can’t help but think of a valuable life lesson my mom taught me.
My freshman year, I decided that I wanted to give the FFA Creed at the Area competition. The night before, I was nervous because I had never done anything like this before, and I had set the goal for myself to advance to the district level. That night, my mom came into my room to help calm my nerves and to give me some advice. She began by telling me a story of when she had been in FFA in high school in Kansas. She said that her senior year she had worked hard and qualified for state in the extemporaneous public speaking contest. After qualifying, she set the goal to win state. Then, she pulled a medal out of her pocket and handed it to me saying, “This is the medal I won.” I flipped the medal over, and it read second place. She then told me that even though she hadn’t achieved her goal of first place, she didn’t define that as failure. Instead of looking at the medal and thinking of how she hadn’t reached her goal and had failed, she thought of how she had succeeded because in her heart she knew that she had given her all in the competition.
As you go about your career development events this spring, or interview for officer positions, or star farmer, remind yourself to think as my mom did. Maybe you won’t get the officer position that you wanted, or maybe you don’t place as well as you believed you could have at a contest. I challenge you not to think about this negatively, but to believe in yourself. As long as you know in your heart that you prepared and gave it your best, then you have succeeded. If in your heart you know that you could have devoted more time to preparing for whatever event it might be, you can still learn from the experience.
One of my favorite quotes is, “I never lose; I either win or I learn.” I believe that you can learn from every experience in life, whether you come out on top or not.
During FFA Week, I had the opportunity to visit with many different chapters and celebrate the National FFA Organization with them. I was able to spend time with Greenhands talking about maximizing their experience in FFA and making the most of their opportunities. I visited with chapters about how broad the FFA truly is and how it can offer something to everyone no matter their background. And, I also spent time with 8th graders who were considering the idea of joining this great organization. I love every second of being able to spend time with Missouri FFA members and visiting about FFA Week was especially rewarding. One of the reasons I enjoy meeting with chapters over FFA Week is because I get to learn about all of the different traditions each chapter takes part in to celebrate FFA Week! Whether it is driving your tractor to school, dyeing your hand green, serving a community breakfast or something else, we are able to take our unique traditions and experiences and put them together for celebrating the common organization that brings us together!
The FFA organization can be complex and sometimes hard to understand by many. We always say that FFA has unlimited opportunities, but what does our organization truly provide students? Agriculture education and FFA provides students with the foundations and real world experiences to become leaders and innovators in our society. By being involved in the organization, students transition to the leaders of the everyday world. Members have the opportunity to attend events like FFA Camp, Public Speaking Institute or even national leadership conferences in which they learn skills such as problem solving, teamwork and communication.
Another beneficial aspect of FFA is setting our members up for future career success. Through hands-on activities called Supervised Agriculture Experiences members are able to explore careers in the field of agriculture. Our organization has an abundance of opportunities such as serving in leadership roles or even building public speaking skills that challenge students to step outside their comfort zone. FFA truly pushes students to utilize their potential and make a difference in our nation.
I look at each of these numbers, my stomach turns into knots, and it hits me that my time in the blue jacket is coming to an end in only 69 days. Although that thought weighs heavily on my mind, it also reminds me to reflect on all the bittersweet memories I have made in my FFA jacket.
When I reflect on the time in my blue jacket, I think of many things; I think of all the friends I have made, my advisors and everyone who has helped me over the years. I think of standing in that classroom at Centralia being told that I would serve as a Missouri State FFA Officer. I think of every event I have attended, every chapter visit I have completed, every member I have spoken to or been around and so much more. I think of the good times, the bad, my achievements and my failures. Most of all, I think of the impact, or the difference, I have made in the lives of my friends, family and fellow FFA members.
“Each day when I awake, I know I have one more day to make a difference in someone’s life.” —James Mann
As we continue toward the Missouri State FFA Convention, I ask that we all reflect on our FFA careers so far — the good, the bad and everything in between. Have you made a difference, and if so, has it been positive? Think of the time you have left in your FFA career. I have 69 days left to make a difference. What kind of difference will you make with the days you have left in your FFA career?
How are we already two months into 2017? It feels like just yesterday I was writing 2012 at the top of my Ag Science 1 homework. Still, here we are amid a new year, a fresh beginning and unbearable winter weather. Okay, it hasn’t been that bad, but when it comes to cold, below 50 is too chilly for me. It seems that all I can think about is summer.
In fact, I was recently asked to describe a sensory memory for a school assignment. My response as I reminisced on past years and warmer months: “In the summer, I get to spend my days in mid-Missouri on one of my family's farms. The truck is loud as I pull into the field, preparing to feed our cattle. As I shut off the engine, I jump down from the tall Ford. With the hot sun shining down on me, I can smell the diesel from the truck and the fescue growing in the fields, crunching under my boots. I can hear the grasshoppers moving below me, when the sound of hooves begins to increase in volume. They, too, can hear the crumple of the paper feed sack and smell the maple on the corn and grain they are eager to consume. As they approach me, I get a sense of excitement about being around such beautiful beasts, but also a sense of awareness as I know they are unpredictable. These smells, these sounds, these feelings are some of my favorites.”
If you could not tell from the response or from ever having met me, I love cattle. Being around them, taking care of them, and, whenever possible, buying them. The thought of one day having my own ranch covered in cattle is one that I work toward daily, and I cannot wait to return home from college, be in the hot sun, and build my herd. However, I have found that often I focus on my own success and myself a little too much.
Maybe you can relate when I say that, in my constant rush to make it to the next season of life, I tend to put myself in front of others. I forget that I am not here just to have personal success or fortune and fame. While those might be goals for which we strive, we must also remember that we are influential pieces of others’ successes. We can use our skills and characteristics, whatever they may be, to strengthen and encourage those around us.
This reminds me of the Bible verse Missouri FFA State President Colton Spencer referenced when explaining to the state House of Representatives what we strive to do as FFA members. Matthew 5:15-16 states, “People do not light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” This is something that I am going to try to keep in mind for the remainder of this year and throughout my life, and I challenge you to do the same. I have already been influenced by the glow of Missouri FFA members, and I cannot wait to see how each of you further uses your brilliant light to help others along the way!
Despite the chilly Missouri weather that continually drags in strong gusts of wind and cloudy days, I can’t help but think springtime is quickly approaching. Just sitting here in my dorm room with the window open, I can sense the telltale signs of spring all around me. Although it is a little different here in Columbia, I can still imagine what spring will be like at my home in Green City. I can already smell the freshly bloomed hyacinths sitting in our kitchen window, a scent that is one of my mother’s favorites. I can feel the warm sun hitting my back as I step outside and trade my heavier Carhartt coat for a lightweight “chore sweatshirt.” I can hear birds calling above me, as they sit on branches of maple trees with new buds beginning to form. I smile as I picture newborn calves on unsteady legs, and grin a little bigger when I remember how in a few days they will be bouncing around the pasture with much more strength and agility. I envision spring rains, muddy boots, greener grass and dark mornings when my beeping alarm clock used to remind me I was going to another Career Development Event contest that day.
Still, of all the things this season reminds me of, I primarily see spring as a time for new beginnings. New weather, new flowers, new calves and new opportunities all materialize in the spring. We are a month into a new year so don’t be afraid to try something different. FFA members, whether you are freshmen learning to say the creed or seniors who just filled out state degree forms, I challenge you to take chances. Join a contest team or do a speech. The spring competition season in FFA offers a multitude of new opportunities for members of all backgrounds and skill sets. However, if you do not try to learn a new skill or develop one you already possess, the chance to be a competitor from now until Missouri FFA Convention in April will be lost until next contest season.
Now is the time to maximize your experiences in the FFA. Now is the time for new beginnings.
Despite the cold and snow, FFA members from across northern Missouri still found motivation the first Saturday of January to attend the Public Speaking Institute. Members came to learn the basics of the many areas of public speaking and other leadership activities from Mr. Andrew McCrea. Five state officers plus myself assisted Mr. McCrea in breakout sessions so members could go more in-depth with the individual sections of speaking and leadership.
During one of the breakouts a young lady began asking questions about becoming a state officer. She was nervous of the new system and officer selection process. However after many questions and a page or two of notes, she approached us after the institute to inform us of her courage to run.
As second semester begins again, I can’t help but think about how fast this year has gone by. I spent the last week attending Greenhand Motivational Conferences in central and southwest Missouri, and also helped at the Public Speaking Institute in Chillicothe, Missouri. The past week has been one of the highlights of my year of state office. You see, Greenhands are those who have time — time to try new opportunities in FFA, time to succeed, fail a couple times, and try again. And Greenhands, you have time to meet new people and travel to new places. As I sit here, my phone buzzes and I look to see a text from Mr. Dietzschold, our state executive secretary. He is reminding my fellow state officers and me that we only have 100 days left in the blue jacket.
When I think back to this time of the year in high school, I remember only wanting time to speed up so that it could be warm again and summer break. Now, I think how silly it was of me to wish for such a thing because the thought of having only 100 more days in the blue jacket weighs heavily on my mind.
A man once said, “Time is free, but it’s priceless; you can’t own it, but you can use it; you can’t keep it, but you can spend it; once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.”
As 2017 is just beginning, what resolutions or goals did you set for yourself? Some of us just have months before we walk down the high school hallway as a student for the final time; others have longer to wait. Now is not too late to take advantage of the opportunities FFA has to offer. We are just at the beginning of spring, the busiest time for FFA members. Around the corner awaits contest teams, officer interviews, speech contests and state convention. It’s not too late to take advantage of those opportunities, but one day it will be.
As 2016 has come to a close and Greenhand Motivational Conferences (GMC’s) have been completed around the state, I have begun to reflect on one of the most exciting years of my life as well as the great start to 2017. When I sit and think about the events that have left such an impact on my life such as high school sports, state FFA Convention, graduating high school, FFA Camp, my first semester in college and recently leading GMC’s, many memories flood my mind. The longer I reflect on those moments in my life I can always trace those memories back to one common bond —camaraderie with those around me. It is the presence of those around me that makes each of my memories standout from the rest. I don’t remember the wins or the losses, the contests and interviews, or the speeches and workshops; I remember the fellowship with the great people who are in my life. As five of my fellow teammates and I recently traveled to the southeast corner of our great state leading GMC’s, we had a lot of travel time to sing, laugh and just enjoy each other’s company. As we were all cooped up in that van, smooshed together along with our luggage and workshop material, we still enjoyed every second of our time together and memories were made that will last forever. It is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, but it is important that we slow down and really cherish the time that we get to spend with others.
As I write this, there are only 16 days until Christmas! The holiday season is in full swing around us, and before we know it a new year will be upon us. Every year around this time, I am filled with memories of past holidays. I think about when I was 5 years old and awoke early on Christmas to hurriedly run into my parent’s room to wake them up. I jumped up and down on their bed yelling, “It’s time to open presents!” My family made our way into the living room, and my mom began to dish out the presents to my brother and I. I remember the joy and excitement I felt when I opened my new Barbie Dreamhouse and dolls to go with it. I couldn’t wait to play with my new toys. At 5 years old, all I was focused on were the physical gifts that I was receiving. Now that I am older, I am starting to remember holidays differently. Last Christmas, I spent the day surrounded by my family. I do not remember what I received for gifts that morning, but I do remember the joy I felt in my heart as I sat around the dinner table laughing with the people I love most. The value of time spent with my loved ones has increased greatly as I have gotten older. The holiday season is an easy time to look at what everyone seems to be receiving and comparing that with what we receive ourselves. We must not focus on things that have physical value, but instead focus on the things that cannot be bought. Be grateful for your unique talents, for your family, friends, ag teachers, and for being able to live in a country that has the cheapest, most abundant food supply in the world. I am looking forward to spending time with those who support me and care for me this holiday season, and I hope you are too! May you have a very bright and merry holiday season!
The holiday season is officially upon us. ‘Tis the season for family time, gift-giving and a lot of food! I am so excited to be back home with my family, and I know many of you are also looking forward to a break from school to spend time with loved ones. This break between semesters is well-deserved, but can sometimes cause us to become lazy when we return to school. Often when I come back to school, I feel unmotivated and kind of in a rut. When thinking about this break for the holiday season and everything that goes with it, a certain story about an “oversized gift” comes to mind:
“Imagine you are 5 years old and your parents throw a birthday party for you. At the party, each of your friends gives you a gift. Afterward, your mom and dad announce they have a couple of special gifts for you out in the garage. You begin to imagine it might be a new bike or a water gun for the pool. When you dart out to see them, you are shocked. You guessed correctly, but it is so much more. In front of you are a 12-gauge shotgun and a huge Harley-Davidson motorcycle!”
Dr. Tim Elmore, author of Habitudes, goes on to explain that while these gifts are awesome, they just aren’t meant for a five-year-old.
Many of us were given large gifts, or talents, that we can use to affect the world. However, sometimes these gifts may be too big for us. Sometimes as leaders we rely solely on our gifts to achieve success, and we forget the value of hard work and dedication. We may begin to “wing it” instead of preparing. We can even sabotage our gift when it is bigger than we are, using it as an excuse not to work hard instead of using it as a fuel to our fire.
I recently realized that I was using my own “oversized gift” to become complacent, and a little bit lazy. In high school, I was always a talented runner so when I entered the collegiate athletic scene, I figured I would continue to win races. I was wrong, and it didn’t take me very long to realize that being a successful cross country runner in college would take much more than just talent; it would take dedication, heart and a lot of hard work. Now, after ending a very disappointing freshman season, I am striving toward success by working hard, instead of just relying on my gifts as a runner.
FFA members, my challenge to you is that as you return to school after winter break, you stay motivated and continue to work hard, not only in your FFA career, but also in other aspects of your life. The spring semester in FFA is an exciting time as it presents us with many opportunities for success. Use your talents, but don’t forget that hard work and dedication are essential ingredients to success as well.
I’ll just say it. I love conventions. More specifically, I love FFA Conventions! I love state convention. I love national convention! The excitement, the speakers, the music and the sea of blue jackets are something I look forward to and hate to see end.
I always leave the state and national conventions fired up and excited to be a part of such a great organization! This past October was no exception. The 89th National FFA Convention held in Indianapolis did not disappoint. Not only was it full of excitement, but it also was a special time to see the accomplishments of many, many Missouri FFA members!
Highlighted throughout the convention was the role of agriculture in today’s world — and that role is huge. It is not just a rural thing. It is an everyone thing. In my hometown, being a part of FFA is just as common as playing sports. Generation after generation joins the FFA. Being at convention and talking to many FFA members from across the state and nation, I realize that is not always the case. For some members, becoming a part of the FFA is stepping into the unknown. I would like to give a shout out to all those members and thank you for joining! The FFA needs you, and the world needs you.
FFA and agriculture is a rural thing, it is a suburban thing, and it is an urban thing. Regardless of your location, I hope you dive in this year and get involved in the many opportunities available through FFA. And, don’t forget convention! April will be here before you know it, and I hope to see you in Columbia! Have a wonderful holiday season with your families!
After returning home from National FFA convention for the fourth time recently, I looked back at the first time I attended convention. It was 2013, and I was a sophomore. I had never traveled out of state without my family before. I was afraid of the unknown and going somewhere new. I remember loading my luggage on the bus early in the morning to leave. I was leaving home. The bus pulled out of our school parking lot as I waved goodbye to my mom. Truthfully, I was scared. But, my parents said the trip would be good for me. That didn’t make any sense to me. How would a week away from everyone I knew and in a new place be good for me? The question was answered many times over that next week. I met new friends from all over the country. I learned about the diversity of American agriculture. Most importantly, I gained the confidence to try new things and take risks. Taking risks is essential to being successful in life. Mistakes will be made, however with mistakes come success. If you never try anything new you will never be successful. Don’t be afraid to take a chance!
Goosebumps crawled on my skin as opening music began to play, signaling the beginning of the 89th National FFA Convention and Expo. Laser lights and fog filled the air, and I couldn’t help but remember my own first National FFA Convention. I recall sitting in my first session, excitement bubbling within as I listened to the wise words of the keynote speaker. You see, at my first national convention, I would never have imagined that I would one day have the chance to sit on the National FFA delegate floor with the words “Missouri Association” written across my back.
As fall speeches and other FFA opportunities roll around, it can be all too easy to tell yourself that you’ll try it next year. Or, maybe you’ll think back to a time when you tried something new, like giving a speech, or learning about a Career Development Event, and it didn’t go the way you had hoped. As I was listening to Sarah Draper, the now former National FFA Western Region Vice President give her retiring address, I couldn’t help but look back at times in my own FFA career when I had thought the words, “All this, for that.” There were times where I had worked hard at a speech and didn’t come out on top, or had studied for Career Development Events and still hadn’t met my goal. Those words, “I did all this, just for that” would run through my mind. But, I never thought those words when I did meet the goals I had set for myself. Times will happen when you will want to give up on a goal, or possibly not even try something new, but those challenges and opportunities may just make you stronger or more knowledgeable for something later in life.
When we watch Sarah Draper and other successful FFA members on stage, it can be easy to forget that they, too, have also thought, “I did all this, just for that.” A quote that comes to mind when I face an obstacle says, “Every morning you have two choices: continue to sleep with your dreams, or wake up and chase them.” As another year in FFA is off to a start, I hope that you will try something new, or keep working on a goal that you have already set for yourself. Remember that no matter how successful someone is, they too have had to push through those times when they thought, “I’ve done all this work, just for that.”
Fall is finally here which means it’s time for cool weather, football and the best time to be in FFA —National FFA Convention! FFA’s national convention has always been my favorite time of year as a member. It is such an exciting and wonderful experience for everyone.
My very first time to attend national convention was my sophomore year competing in the National Agriscience Fair. Traveling eight hours on a bus to Louisville with my chapter, I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but boy was I ready to get there. Once I arrived, it was one of the best times of my life. I can still remember all the amazing experiences I had with my chapter.
Whether you are competing in a speaking contest, a Career Development Event, or you get to receive your American degree, National FFA Convention is a great place to connect with other members from across the country who are just as passionate about agriculture as you are. One of my very favorite parts of National Convention was receiving the informational booklets and trying to get a signature from every state. So, whether are experiencing national convention for the first time or even if you are a veteran, remember to step out of your comfort zone, meet new people, take a lot of pictures and just have fun!
CHERISHING THE START OF THE SCHOOL YEAR
Summer has come and gone; a new school year has just begun. Summer was packed full of activities where unforgettable memories were made. Now that summer is gone, we must focus on school. The best part of school involves our FFA chapters and carrying out the activities that we plan through our Program of Activities (POA). I remember my time in high school, rushing around to plan as many events as possible for the benefit of our members. I remember brainstorming new ideas each month to see what we could improve. Constant improvement and commitment is essential to any successful chapter. Carrying out those plans to the best of our abilities to give our membership the best experience possible through the FFA organization is essential. The start of the often-dreaded school year is an exciting time for FFA chapters in Missouri, and we have the opportunity to show our passion for an organization that gives our youth so much. Keeping busy is never a hard task as a chapter FFA member or advisor. Make the most of every opportunity that comes with that plate full of FFA activities!
As summer ends, the weather begins to cool off and the leaves begin to turn. I am finding myself thinking back on a rewarding past few months as a Missouri State FFA Officer. As summer began, I headed to Jefferson City where I had the privilege to spend a week with my teammates learning things that would help us as we serve the Missouri FFA this upcoming year. After a few short days back at home, I packed and headed to Warrensburg where I had the chance to attend the Missouri FFA Public Speaking Academy where FFA members, just like you, were practicing writing speeches that they could use throughout their FFA careers. My next stop was State FFA Camp. I spent two weeks at Camp Rising Sun where I had the opportunity to meet several chapter members and learn what it means to truly be unlocked, unlabeled and unlimited. I, then, headed to Columbia for another week of training with my teammates, and ended that week by spending two days with members at The Leadership Adventure. Finally, to top off the summer, I spent a little over a week at the Missouri State Fair. Now, as we settle into our school desks and education routines, I look forward to continuing my journey and seeing the rest of what my year as a Missouri State Officer has to offer me.
Summer has almost come and gone. Reflecting on this summer, I realize how many new opportunities I was presented with and how much taking on those opportunities truly helped me grow. This summer I attended events that I had participated in as an FFA member such as Area Officer Institute and FFA Camp, but what truly helped me grow were the events that I went to that I had not attended as an FFA member. I was able to experience HYPE Academy, the Alumni Development Conference, and some state officer training sessions that truly opened my eyes. These events highlighted advocacy in agriculture, leadership, alumni development among other topics. It was these opportunities that made a difference in my life and made me take into account how I was finally following the idea of ‘practice what you preach.’ One of my passions is to get my fellow FFA members to take on new opportunities with an open mind, but since becoming a state officer, I had focused more on spreading the message rather than following my own advice. By truly focusing on following through with my advice, I was able to firsthand notice the impact these events left on me: the sayings and quotes I remember, the way it made me feel, and the motivation it left me with. As we move forward with a new school year, we must not only take on these new opportunities with an open mind, but also we must take a step back and evaluate the impact these opportunities are having on us and appreciate how much it motivates us and helps us grow. Have a great school year!
It is that time of year again — summertime! It’s the time for spending days at the lake, eating tasty sweet corn and peaches from roadside stands, working long hours in the hayfield hearing the same songs repeatedly on the radio, playing outdoor sports tournaments, attending week-long camps and livestock shows every weekend. However, with all of these summer events consuming a majority of our schedules, we tend to forget to be advocates for agriculture. We are reminded at FFA events during the school year, but while school is not in session our minds are usually on other things.
You may be wondering, “How can I be an advocate even during the summer or at non-agricultural events?” It is easier than you may realize. Strike up a conversation with someone sitting next to you at your sporting events, post photos or videos to social media while working with your SAE, or engage curious spectators at livestock shows. The more you interact with consumers, the more of an impact you will make. Yes, the hectic rush of summer causes us to focus more on the present, but it is that time of year again to also focus on our future. It is time for you to AGVOCATE!
Unlocked. Unlabeled. Unlimited. Many FFA members had the opportunity to attend Camp Rising Sun this summer to focus on becoming unlocked, unlabeled, and unlimited leaders. Often times, the obstacles we face deal with those three words, and whether or not you attended camp, we can all learn something from them.
At camp, we focused on unlocking our potential. Maybe that’s by stepping out of our comfort zone and trying something new, or by recognizing our strengths so that we can better utilize them. I urge you this summer to focus on unlocking yourself. Often we let fear hold us back from trying something new. This year, maybe we can begin to research topics for a speech, or speak up in a chapter meeting to share an idea.
The agriculture community has many labels on them—some are accurate while others are not. What are the labels that you have put on yourself? The next time that little voice in your head tells you that you can’t do something, shoot it down. We are in charge of labeling ourselves.
When I first began research for my SAE, I didn’t realize the impact honeybees had on our world. Tiny insects that you can squish with your fingers pollinate one-third of the world’s food. No matter how small our actions may seem, we are impacting the world. If we all work together to make changes in our community, we can change the world by being unlimited leaders.
FFA Camp, Area Officer Institute and the HYPE Academy: these are some of the events I, and many of you, have had the opportunity to be a part of this year. Together, we have learned to be effective leaders, informed advocates and reputable members. We are blessed in Missouri to have access to these types of programs and opportunities—it is important, then, to take advantage of them. While many of these events have passed for the year, many are still ahead. I encourage you to be involved in all you can in the upcoming days of your FFA careers. These opportunities help create the steps that lead us to achieving our goals. But, regardless of your goals, the tools we are given when attending these academies, conferences and camps are what will make us successful. In addition to this, we can use these tools to reach out and help others take their steps along the way. Together, we can reach our goals. I am excited to see how each of you are using the skills you’ve already gained this year, and to see you at our coming events!
“It’s up to me.” These are the words I heard almost exactly one year ago when I first sat in the seats of the Rec Hall at State FFA Camp Rising Sun. Prior to that experience, I felt that my motivation was gone. As a senior-to-be attending FFA Camp, I had thought I would survive the week, but probably go home as the same old ordinary Baileigh. Boy was I wrong. I remember clearly those words and the deep pang of regret and disappointment that hit me like a train afterwards. It was up to me to find my motivation to be open to opportunities and make something of myself. I hadn’t done that yet. When I think back, VESPR’s stands out in my mind. I remember speaking at the VESPR’s program and thinking how amazing it would be to share my stories, help others and inspire them, too.
That week at FFA Camp changed me. I found motivation and revived my passion. FFA Camp taught me that it is up to me to reach my full potential. With this motivation, I set a number of goals: one of those being to return to Camp Rising Sun the following year as a Missouri State FFA Officer. This was something that I had dreamed of ever since my freshman year in high school. Before FFA Camp, never did I imagine I would accomplish any of my goals, let alone become a Missouri State FFA Officer. If it weren’t for those words, “It’s up to me,” I wouldn’t be where I am today.
FFA members, I challenge you to take on opportunities this summer and this year with an open mind. Find that motivation that drives you to set goals, accomplish them and stand firm in your passion. You must realize that it is up to you to make something of yourself that you will be proud of. If I can do it, then I firmly believe the 26,000 Missouri FFA members can do so as well.
I recently finished my first week of officer training as a Missouri State FFA Vice-President. At the start of the week, my fellow officers and I were afraid of the coming year. After four long days of training, encouragement and late nights, we left the Missouri Farm Bureau building in Jefferson City confident in our abilities for the year ahead. Beyond the learning of improv speaking and how to run an effective workshop, a new bond was formed between the 16 state officers. We quickly went from just sharing that common bond of being an officer, to having a family tie to one another. When the meetings ended, it was odd for us to no longer be together. I look forward to meeting new FFA members this next year and getting to interact with chapters across the state.
Blast Off training is over and FFA camp has begun. This can only mean one thing—summer is in full swing. From camps to chapter workdays and fairs, this time of year is full of activities. With Blast Off training in the books, my fellow teammates and I have been prepared to better serve Missouri FFA members. During the training, we learned how to properly put together and present a speech, as well as lead an effective workshop. It did not take long to put these newly acquired skills to the test as week one of FFA Camp at Camp Rising Sun, came and went in a hurry. It was a busy week packed full of speeches, contests, waterfront activities, and numerous leadership sessions where members were challenged to work on living their purpose and take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves throughout their lives. It is going to be a great summer for Missouri FFA and the fun has only just begun.
This past March, I learned that I would be serving 26,000 Missouri FFA members for the next year. I excitedly worked to prepare for my state officer interviews that would be held during state convention. I continued to prepare for other contests that I would be participating in during convention, too. Meanwhile, my heart and mind were filled with countless ideas of how I could serve Missouri FFA members. Looking back to my days as a Greenhand, I didn’t know FFA Camp, HYMAX Academy and Public Speaking Academy even existed. My goal for the year is to inform members who were just like I was — clueless to the opportunities FFA has to offer. My best advice for FFA members of all ages is to take advantage of this phenomenal organization. Step out of your comfort zone. Ask for friends to join you in participating in summer activities. Never in my life would I ever guess that I would become a beekeeper. Through FFA’s Supervised Agricultural Experience I was able to start my own beekeeping business, which would later lead me to selecting Biochemistry as my college major. As a new high school graduate, I can tell you one thing: I regret most the things I DIDN’T do. While high school may seem like forever, one day it will end. Take advantage of FFA’s opportunities while you still have the chance and I promise you won’t regret it.
MAKE YOUR MARK!
State Convention: a stressful competitive fun time filled with lasting memories. State convention is now behind us for the year of 2016 but the memories made will last a lifetime. My favorite event over the four years is without a question the Missouri FFA State convention. This event presents each member with so many opportunities. We can bond with fellow members, compete in Career and Leadership Development Events, receive our State Degree or even win a proficiency. When the event is over everyone is relieved because the stress of contest season is over and we might have a free weekend for once. But, lets all remember what we gained from a three-day event and what we can do going forward. Never let your passion stop or the memories fade. We still have to carry out our duties and activities at the chapter and area level. We must continue to put the same work ethic, commitment and dedication that we put towards State Convention to every event in and outside of FFA. State Convention may be over but the skills learned and memories will travel with us forever.