Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Splitting Hairs

The State FFA leadership conference was a family affair. Seth and Anna, past state officers, were back stage coordinating the behind the scenes activities (not-so-controlled chaos according to Anna), Mark was involved with FFA alumni activities, and I had the honor of serving on the officer nominating committee.

Twenty-five brave kids interviewed over two days vying for six positions on the next state officer team. The first round was a one-on-one talk with each of the eleven nominating committee members. “How has FFA influenced you personally?” I asked. And time after time I heard similar stories. “FFA changed my life.” They repeatedly told me about the shy awkward freshman who signed up for their first ag class, not really knowing what was in store. And how over time as they made friends, developed projects and learned the spirit of competition, they came out of their shell and found a place to fit in.

One bubbly candidate said the rest of her family were athletes, but not her. Her, run? Not hardly! And how FFA had provided the home she needed to excel and find her best self. Another candidate told me the story of how an older FFA student had coached him into the warm and outgoing young man he is today. Another member said his “book smarts” came easy, but that FFA taught him to relate to people. They all said that even though they had given several years to the FFA, they weren’t yet ready to set aside the blue jacket. They want to give back. They want to be that individual to inspire younger members to do and be all they can be.   

In the end we could only choose six; such a heartbreaking decision to tell the rest of the kids no. I just hope the ones who didn’t make it learned from the experience and will go on from here to greater accomplishments. They deserve it. They all shine in my mind - passionate, determined, and inspiring.     

the new team
Kyle, McKenzie, Daniel, Brett, Alyssa, Erin
(photo from the FFA Foundation)

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