Growing up as a farmer's daughter, it was only typical of me to then go ahead and join Future Farmers of America (FFA) in high school. I was always interested as a middle schooler when I would see the high school kids walk the halls in their blue, corduroy jackets or hear them talk about all the fun they have during FFA events. When I was making a schedule for high school my eighth grade year, you can bet that Agriculture Education was one of the first classes on my list so that I could join the Elmwood FFA chapter. Looking back I don't ever regret join and becoming extremely active in my chapter through helping out at events and competing in many different judging events. The FFA has effectively made me the individual that I am today. The FFA allowed me to discover my own definition. I can now be defined by the way I act, talk and think. Without FFA, I definitely wouldn't be the person I am today and I will never be able to thank the organization enough for all it has done for me.
1. Endless amount of brotherhood/sisterhood
Through FFA, you not only become really close with all the other members in your chapter through the endless hours of studying for a contest, but you also become close to members of other chapters. When you're out at an outdoor contest where the weather decides to take a turn for the worst, you better bet that it brings everyone together. We all become one big team to finish out the soil or livestock judging contest and just can't wait to return to the warmth of the school bus. During all this, even if we realize it or not, we develop friendship that for many, continue on long past the years of wearing that couduroy jacket, The bond that FFA has helped me with other is something that I will never be able to describe the importance of since I was also a shy person when I first entered high school and anyone that knows me now, knows that far from true.
2. Develop skills no other high school club can give you
Through FFA, I compete in my fair share of CDE's. You could find me out in a dirt pit judging soil or hitting the books and tests in order to learn the basics of grain merchandising. FFA competitions were so much more than the stereotypical "judging dirt" that everyone though. Events ranged from public speaking and leadership to livestock and animal judging. No matter what interest or skills you have, the FFA had a competition that you could definitely excel in if you took the time to prepare and study for. I tried to compete in as many contests as I possibly could and trust me from the long after school studying hours to blank stares at old test, I was able to rack up a good amount of plagues and medals.
3. Making a change for the better
A big part of FFA is giving back to the community. We would hold many different events to not only raise money for our chapter, but to also give back to the community, Every year my chapter would participate in a local Relay For Life, where we would go around and collect as much money as possible to give to the event. We would also serve BBQ chicken at the event in an effort to raise even more money and for everyone else that camped out on the track night, have easy access to dinner. We also would put on multiple tractor pulls at local events to allow the children to have a little fun to and a chance to win a ribbon and even a small trophy. Community service was a big factor in FFA and there's honestly no better feeling than giving back.
4. Learning to do, doing to learn, earning to live, living to serve
The FFA motto couldn't be a better one to live by. The organization itself teaches you so many values that I believe everyone should care. It teaches you that through hard work and dedication, you can do anything your heart desires. Sometimes you have to take the path less traveled and really discover who you are and what you want out of life. While you take that path, you may hit a few bumps in the road, but ultimately you have your chapter members and the organization itself to help you back up and keep you on your way.
5. Once Blue, Forever Blue
Once you put on that blue corduroy jacket, you become apart of something bigger than yourself. You are now apart of an organization that helps million of kids develop life changing skills. As a FFA Alumni member, I continue to feel apart of the organization whether it be through helping my siblings and other members find their way in this organization or if it by going back and continuing to support my chapter. I will always have and cherish the memories of all the FFA trips and adventures we went on and of all the torturious hour spend with Mr. Feasel studying for that upcoming contest, where I would get that famous look when I got an easy question wrong. FFA will always be apart of me that I will never be ashamed of and wil always speak of fondly.
To me, the FFA is more than just an organization – it is a part of me that continually affects my future. The FFA has defined me, networked me and prepared me for the future of my choice. Between all the leadership training, experiences, officers positions, Career Development Events and Proficiency areas, I have been given the knowledge and skills to act professionally. Not to forget all the memoires I made along the way, the FFA has changed my life for the better and I could never be more grateful for such an organization. Forever national blue and corn gold.