11 Things I've Enjoyed About FFA
As my time dwindles to only a few more months of being apart of the greatest youth organization I could possibly imagine, here are 11 things I've both learned and enjoyed after 5 years spent in FFA:
1. Public speaking
I hope you guys realize that some people fear public speaking more than death. That's pretty crazy, but public speaking can also be pretty scary. Do you remember being a freshman and getting called to the front of the class to recite those 5 dreaded paragraphs from "I Believe" by E.M. Tiffany? I remember my teacher choosing me to represent my chapter after I was done reciting. If it wasn't for my teacher pushing me to participate in public speaking, I wouldn't be the Chatty Cathy that I am today.
Arguably one of the biggest things I have learned through FFA has been leadership. I worked myself up from freshman member to officer. The freshmen in FFA need someone to look up to, someone they want to be in the next year or two, and someone who they can depend on to help them have a great time in their FFA career.
3. Time management
Oh boy, this one is tough to tackle. From livestock shows to record books, AET (for those states that use this software) to banquet planning, CDE's and so much more, you have to find time for everything. Sometimes it's even difficult to find time for a night's sleep before a contest or a nap the morning before it actually starts. Once you start prioritizing and managing your time wisely, everything will fall into place and you'll be so much happier with yourself for learning time management.
4. Running meetings professionally
Has anyone been to a meeting that was just so chaotic you refrained from mentioning Robert's Rules of Order? I definitely have. Just from my four years in the high school agriculture program, I have learned to efficiently and effectively run a business meeting professionally and properly. Of course, they don't have to run in the tip-top shape of a state contest, but you should still organize them well. Opening statements, old business, new business, recreation, adjournment, and refreshments must all be organized for an effective meeting. FFA Members, why are we here?
Whenever you make those banquet donation calls, you should always start with, "Hi, my name is _____ and I am with the _____ chapter. We were wondering if you would be interested in donating to our annual end of the year FFA banquet at which we recognize the hard working individuals of our chapter." You quickly learn to always state your name and chapter while asking for donations. One day, the person on the other end of the phone might be interviewing you for a job, and hopefully, they will remember your personable attitude. Some people remember names, but most people will definitely remember that you did something for them or the community. Networking is key. (Pictured above is one of the safety demonstrations I demonstrated in on semi safety. Thank you, CRW Inc.)
6. When to have fun and when to get serious
There are times in FFA that are meant for fun, but there are also times when you need to buckle down and get work done to meet your deadlines. Take your banquet for example; it is always fun to plan it, pick a theme, choose decorations, and share multiple laughs throughout the weeks leading up to it. However, there's something about that last week before the banquet that makes everyone go absolutely crazy. Your advisor(s) gets a little grumpier, your classmates get more stressed, and time just seems to keep speeding up. That one week before the banquet is crucial to the success of the banquet itself. It's okay to have fun, but you also must put your nose to the grindstone and "Git-R-Done."
7. Official dress
We've all heard the sayings, "That's not official dress" and "tuck in your tally wacker." Trust me when I say pantyhose are the worst. You can hairspray them all you want, but those sheer pantyhose will snag on something when you least expect it regardless. Then it becomes the point of breaking out the handy-dandy clear nail polish to stop the run in the pantyhose. I haven't really enjoyed wearing my official dress several days in a row, but believe me when I say there are countless memories that jacket has been through. Though remember, your jacket is NOT a fashion statement.
8. Career Development Events
From judging soil to selling a product to someone to public speaking, and even to judging livestock, CDE's are something I have enjoyed and really miss having been out of FFA for a year now. CDE's have taught me so much and have influenced my decision on what I wanted to major in. Try every CDE you can, even though you may not be the greatest at a couple of them. You can at least say that you tried.
I have friends from North Carolina, New York, Missouri, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Texas, and Maine. I met a great group of FFA members during my trip to the Washington Leadership Conference in Washington D.C. We still talk even though we don't get to see each other as much as we all would like to. I've even made friends with those that I competed against, both in my own chapter and in different chapters, and I've met a lot of people from chapter trips, as well.
Ohio just had their state convention a few weeks back, and I'm sad to say that it was my last state convention as an FFA member. My four years have gone by in the blink of an eye. So, to other FFA members out there, don't take any convention for granted whether it be your state convention or the national convention held in either Louisville, Kentucky or Indianapolis, Indiana. These conventions are where the most dedicated and hard-working FFA members are recognized for their outstanding achievements at the state or national level. Be sure to congratulate those being recognized because it probably wasn't easy getting to where they are. Conventions are going to be the one thing I will miss the most. This fall I will be attending my last ever National FFA Convention and will be earning the highest degree this organization can bestow on any member: the American FFA Degree.
11. The value of agriculture
When you really set everything else aside, you embarked in this organization for a reason. Many people wish to learn markets, the difference between a dicot and a monocot, the many different breeds and species of livestock, or the process of livestock slaughtering and processing. Our advisors spend countless hours on lesson plans to teach the next generation of agriculturalists in order to ensure agriculture has a bright future ahead. We've been taught the value of agriculture from the first day we took those agriculture classes. Now some of us are out learning in our own classrooms without walls, whether that be on a farm or through another opportunity.
Never take for granted the years you have left as a member of one of the greatest youth organizations out there. You're going to miss FFA. You're going to want it back when it's gone. And you'll wish these days hadn't gone by so fast. Try new things, make new friends, try for a state proficiency, step out of your comfort zone and run for that office. Everything starts with you. You'll only get out of FFA what you put in. These years could be the greatest of your life.