The kids come in all shapes and sizes. Big clumsy boys in black slacks, their hair combed nicely - wearing ties no less! The girls are in black skirts, also with white shirts and neck ties. Both wear the signature blue corduroy jacket, their state and chapter name on the back, their own name proudly embroidered on the right chest. They come from all corners of Idaho to compete in contests ranging from livestock judging and floral arrangement to parliamentary procedure and public speaking. They come to learn from their leaders and receive recognition for their hard work.
The best part of the convention is when students are honored for top achievements in their individual agriculture projects at home. Some raise pigs, sheep, cattle or rabbits. Others work on farms, harvest hay, work in food service or a welding shop. One young man won an award for Ag Processing by working for his grandparents at their small kill facility, harvesting beef year round and deer and elk during hunting season. Another grows and sells greenhouse flowers. The big wide world of agriculture is explored, propagated, nurtured, harvested, and marketed by these kids.
Afterwards Seth and Anna had a farewell lunch with the FFA kids, past and present, who made the conference come together. We hung around for a couple of hours letting them say their goodbyes before they all scattered back out to their own lives.
One moment of the conference stood out to me. There was an elderly gentleman presenting foundation scholarships to students. He was enthusiastic about what he had seen that day. He was describing his impression of the student members and used the adjective “genteel.” I shook his hand later and thanked him for his comments, but I had to look up the word to be sure of its meaning. Genteel is defined this way: polite, refined, well-bred (formerly meaning gentlemanly or ladylike). Can you imagine anyone over 60 referring to today's youth in that manner? What a compliment and I couldn’t agree more.
|Anna with Elly and Hannah, visiting state officers from Washington|