To My Younger Sibling Just Starting FFA
To my younger sibling just starting FFA,
As I picked you up from one of your first FFA meetings of the year tonight, it hit me like a brick wall what journey you are now embarking on. You got in the car and you informed me that you would need to be getting official dress fairly soon because you would be attending National FFA Convention for the very first time. I took this as a complete shock because I figured you would want to wait a few years and you’re normally not very thrilled about trying something new. But on the inside, I was ecstatic about the news you were telling me. You see, to me, you’ve always been my little brother. I never had put a whole lot of thought into you starting FFA. I always loved the idea of you one day becoming an FFA member but now that it’s here, I can’t believe where time has gone.
As I sat in the car, realizing the independent young man that you are becoming, I couldn’t help but think about just how much your life is about to change. I say this because all it ever took for me was attending one meeting, signing up for National Convention, and trying on the blue corduroy jacket for the first time ever. All it ever took was being surrounded by thousands of other eager FFA members, with all different types of backgrounds, from all across the country as I sat in Conseco Fieldhouse, listening to National FFA Officers, motivational speakers and trying to wrap my head around what the words of opening ceremonies meant. I never would have dreamed how much this national blue and corn gold organization would affect just about every aspect of my life in seven short years.
I know what you’re feeling. Right now, you’re honestly probably signing up for stuff just to miss school. I don’t blame ya. Looking back, that’s probably why I attended National Convention my very first time. I figured I would attend so that my advisor would stop asking me if I was going to go and so he would stop bugging me. I understand why he did it now. He knew just how much my life was about to change and he knew how addicting being a part of something larger than yourself can be. As you go into the next few years and as you visit all that the National FFA Organization has to offer, I want to share some advice, as your older sibling of course.
First, please never, ever think that you have to do what I did. I want you to do what you want to do and I want you to figure out what works best for you. I never want someone to compare you to me or to expect you to follow in my exact footsteps. As siblings, I know this happens often. Try contests that interest you and that allow you to share your passion. Go to events that you’re interested in. I want you to find YOUR place within the FFA, because trust me; I know that your place within the organization will be phenomenal.
Next, I dare you to dive in. Head first. Listen to your advisor and when she encourages you to sign up for something outside of your comfort zone. Please just do it. I know at the time it feels uncomfortable and you may never want another thing to do with that contest, event, or activity ever again, but please just do it at least once. I know right now camps and conferences don't really sound like your type of thing, but try them at least once.The people you will meet and the places you will go will leaving lasting memories.The advisor is stationed by the owl for a reason. They are wise and they want what is best for you. Trust them when they try pushing you outside of your comfort zone or when they “voluntell” you to do something. You’ll thank them later.
Make goals and dream big. One of my very first goals I made as a young member was to challenge myself to grow. I definitely am not the same gal I was when I first joined in 8th grade. I was awkward (as most middle school kids are), I was painfully shy, and I was not interested in making new friends or taking any step outside of my comfort zone. Everything that I didn’t want to do, FFA made me do, for the better of course. Growing is awkward, painful, and even confusing, but the growth that I now look back on that I experienced over the course of my FFA career, was the best personal growth I have ever gained in my life. My goals and my dreams in the blue corduroy lead me to developing a burning passion for service, for helping others, and for informing the world about agriculture. This led me to wanting to share my passion outside of my chapter and even outside of my district. I knew that I had a story to tell and I was going to bust if I didn’t share it soon. My dreams, my goals, and a lot of hard work led me to devoting a year of my life, as well as postponing a year of college, to my state association as a state officer. It was a year that I cherish deeply, a year that allowed me to wake up every day and share my love for agriculture, agricultural education, and FFA with the entire state, a year that I met THE coolest FFA members on the face of this Earth, a year that I served with six of my very best friends, and a year that the 8th grade version of me, NEVER once would have imagined would come true. At the end of the day, what God has in store for your life is much bigger and better than anything you could imagine, but I am so thankful that he worked my dreams into His plan.
Be prepared for the ride. I lost a lot throughout my time in the organization. I lost officer positions and I lost career development events. Rarely ever did I walk away with a first place plaque or even a state winning CDE. But oh did I learn from these events. If I would have won every single thing I had interviewed for, or competed in, I never would have learned the importance of humility, authenticity, or growth. I learned more from the times that I fell flat on my face or was discouraged from what I thought at the time was failure. Someone once said, “It’s not failure, it’s unfinished success.” Always look for areas of growth and always look for the silver lining in situations. Every single thing that you do in this organization, all pieces together in the end to create YOUR FFA story.
While you may not understand or see the significance of what is in store for you, I hope and I pray that you are able to discover and unfold a passion so deep and so genuine for this organization that you simply enjoy every single moment that you’re given to represent your chapter, your state, the organization as a whole, and every single member that has zipped up the jacket before you. It is an honor to be a part of an organization that feels like family. We’ve come a long way but it is all thanks to those farm boys in 1928 that we have the opportunity to be a part of the greatest national youth led organization that there is. The love and admiration that I feel now as an FFA alum is so near and dear to my heart. I am so thankful for my years in the blue corduroy but more importantly, I am SO excited and so blessed to have the chance to watch your years in the blue corduroy to come. I want nothing but the very best for you, and as your older sibling, I hope that you truly are able to live out the words that are spoken by every member in opening ceremonies, “To practice brotherhood, honor agricultural opportunities and responsibilities, and develop those qualities of leadership, which an FFA member should possess.” This organization offers so much but it is all about what you make of it and what qualities and life lessons you will eventually possess! I wish you the best as you embark on this once in a lifetime journey in the jacket that will forever have your back, and the emblem that will always be over your heart.
Forever blue & always proud of you,
Your older sibling
Cover Photo Courtesy of @itsanffathing