Sunday, November 10, 2013

An FFA Goodbye

We got home from the National FFA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, just in time to move cows. It was a great trip. Anna was running for a spot on the six-member national officer team and Seth was there hosting donors. In the end they didn’t choose Anna, but she had a wonderful experience and loved her time with the other candidates from all over the U.S. We were proud and pleased to have her compete in this very demanding preparation and interview process, and know that it will pay dividends in her future. 

Mark and I judged proficiency awards in the beef entrepreneurship and home and community development areas. We visited with another judge, an elderly woman from Chicago who works for an energy company which donates to the FFA Foundation. She had never been to an FFA event and was unfamiliar with the organization until she walked into the convention center and was surrounded by kids in blue jackets, black skirts or slacks, complete with white shirts and blue and gold ties. She said she had been worried about today’s youth, but after talking with students, seeing their enthusiasm and professionalism, her faith was renewed. She could go home now and feel that our future was in good hands.

We hear similar stories a lot. You just can’t be around these kids and not be impressed. And whenever people get on a kick about how poorly kids behave these days, I can’t relate.

Mark wore his cowboy hat to the city of course. He’s like my dad and his dad; a cowboy hat is just part of their everyday dress. And everywhere we go he gets noticed. Of course part of it is his friendly nature and kind face, but he gets all kinds of greetings and friendly smiles from folks. I guess people still like cowboys.

We headed to the hills the day after we got home. I thought about the Kentucky trip all afternoon as we gathered the cattle and headed them towards the Brush Creek field. I was walking with my dog Kate and we had to go clear back to bring up a straggler. We were far behind the herd when dusk fell. There were 3 inches of snow on the ground with more piling up on my jacket. I got concerned that I might not make it back to the road before dark and Mark wouldn’t have any idea where to find me.

It was so quiet, so lovely. I stopped periodically to listen and let it sink in - so far from the city streets of Louisville and the bustling Atlanta airport where we were yesterday at this time. I heard a jet go by overhead. Just then I saw Mark’s headlights bumping towards me through the brush and rocks. What a welcome sight.

I thought of the line Anna posted on Facebook just days before the convention. “It’s pretty exciting, this life we get to lead.” So true.  

last day for her blue jacket

a long way from Louisville

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