FFA is About Giving, Not Getting
The FFA Organization is the most selfless organization you can join, which is evident through the hours members put into their peers and their communities.
Take the motto for example, ‘learning to do, doing to learn, earning to live, living to serve.” Living to serve is exactly the mentality members possess. Walking into the AG classroom as a green hand, you were likely greeted by upperclassmen who then became your mentors. You eventually become a mentor too, though. I remember the moment I realized I was one and that’s the thing about being a leader to others; often times you don’t realize you are one ‘till someone has copycats something you do. Make those passing moments truly reflect who you are and where you want to be as a person, not where you are now.
This organization taught me the importance of sharing. From hotel rooms to seats on the bus; from the last honey bun to victory sharing is an understood aspect of FFA. Personal space? No such thing. I learned more about the importance of 20-minute-power-naps from four years of sharing a hotel room with my friends than some new parents probably learn with their first child.
The most important thing to share, of course, is victory. While you can win individually, sure. I believe it’s safe to say winning as a team tops the cake.
Participants and victors are not crowned, medaled or, at least in my Texas FFA chapter, given trophies bearing their names. Instead, the coveted blue and gold banners and pennants bear the name of the chapter members represent. I love that my chapter did this because it perpetuated pride instead of ego. It allowed younger students to be inspired to compete at that level instead of creating an atmosphere that forced members compare themselves to another individual.
I remember adding my first banner to the wall in our Ag building. Some elementary students walked in and asked what they meant. My ag teacher proceeded to explain the victory in measurements of hours of practice, a passion for the event itself, the tireless effort of encouraging parties who cheered on the Ag students as they competed for these banners. Not once did he say anyone’s name and I felt more pride in winning that banner after that speech than any other award I ever received. Those children left that conversation feeling inspired to reach for that level of excellence and I think we can all agree that this moment is what the FFA had in mind when they described the importance of exemplifying premier leadership.
That was the day I learned what leadership was. Leadership is the act of inspiring those around you to realize their full potential. It’s leading by example instead of demanding credit for the victories. It’s sharing the glow of a favorable outcome with your fellow members knowing that without careful instruction, sharing a hotel room, a seat on the bus and the last honey bun, this would have never been possible. Which brings me back to my original point. FFA is about giving, NOT getting. And yet from that, we gain so much more.