Trust the Process: "The Nine"
Every year, throughout the duration of the National FFA Convention, six individuals are chosen at the conclusion of an intense and thorough selection process as the new National FFA Officer Team. On the other side of the interview table, sit nine FFA members who serve as the National FFA Nominating Committee, who fairly represent multiple states within a region. These members apply and are nominated out of other interested applicants and are trained and equipped with the necessary knowledge and tools needed to select an incredible team of national officers.
After learning more about this experience and the chance to serve behind the scenes as a small part of the big picture, I was super intrigued about this opportunity. I had spoken with my advisor and state staff about the requirements and expectations and decided that serving on the nominating committee would be an incredible experience that would not only benefit myself, but my future students that I would be teaching and advising through FFA.
Once I had applied, I was so excited to have received an email stating that I would have the opportunity to serve on the committee. Instantly, the committee and I had to get to work. This began in August. We reviewed and studied up on each applicant by learning about every association’s candidate through their applications, essays, resumes and letters of recommendation. Most of my evenings quickly turned into candidate review sessions. I felt so humbled and honored to get to learn about each of these leader’s passions, interests and motivation. Getting to see a small glimpse of their accomplishments and life styles simply through their applications, made me feel so privileged to get to be a part of this process, but made me super eager to get to meet each of them at the end of October.
Understanding the commitment I had made by applying, made me more conscious of how hard each of the candidates were working to pursue this dream. Many of them had their own reasoning for running for national office, but the common thread between all of them was that they believed in what the National FFA Organization stood for and they wanted to continue serving an organization and its members because of the change that they had personally witnessed throughout their own FFA journeys.
Often times, the selection process is referred to as “the process” and a common term that is shared from staff, candidates, committee members and mentors alike is to “trust the process”. I really depended on this as we progressed through the five days of interviews and rounds. Candidates go through the following segments: personal round I, writing exercises or essays, one-on-one interviews, an advocacy stand and deliver speech, round robin issues conversation and media round, a facilitation practicum, and lastly, personal round II. To say that the process is mentally, emotionally and physically draining, could be an understatement. I have never met more driven individuals than when I met each of the candidates. Every day I watched and observed in awe at the magnitude of how polished, professional, and relatable the 42 applicants were. They inspired me, encouraged me, and reminded me of how student led this organization truly is.
As stated, the National FFA Organization is the largest student led organization in the country. This came to life right in front of me as my committee and I went into intense deliberations to select the best six. Knowing that the future of the organization’s leaders was in the hands of our committee was one of the most nerve-wracking, yet rewarding experiences of my life. What the organization embodies was happening in real life and getting to watch this, firsthand, was phenomenal. This was even cooler when our committee announced the slate of officers to the delegate body and we watched as delegates unanimously passed the election of the new team at the conclusion of the 89th National FFA Convention and Expo. I am so thankful for FFA and for the opportunity to be a part of an organization that allows its students voices to be heard.
For me, growth was the biggest takeaway from my nominating committee experience; growth within networking opportunities, growth in friendships with my committee, with each candidate, National FFA staff, and adult consultants and mentors. Furthermore personal growth as I broadened my knowledge about the organization and this will later benefit my students and FFA members as an advisor. I respect each candidate that goes through this process because they embody what the organization is all about. They take a chance on a big dream and they take a leap of faith by believing in something so much that they’re willing to put their lives on hold completely. I believe that this organization creates leaders, believers, dreamers, and doers, but I know with my whole heart that it creates real people with real passions and a burning desire to be a part of something greater than themselves.
I can assure you that I trust the process. Witnessing the process from beginning to end has instilled a deep faith in me for what I believe in and what I believe about the National FFA Organization.
Cover Photo: Iowa FFA Association