I wasn’t raised around FFA. It was for farmers. Future Farmers of America. That wasn’t me. I was going someplace, big and far away, far, far from farming, far away from North Dakota. However, once my rebellion subdued and I moved home to my parent’s farm house as a single mother in college, I learned I loved farming.
But I didn’t choose farming as my profession, yet. Instead I have been submersed in agriculture business for the past decade plus. I have learned that the best interviewees I have met and hired a few along the way were former FFA leaders. I had the opportunity to work with FFA and partner with a client and two former colleagues to lead the first ever social media training with state delegates at the National FFA Convention in 2011. Then I was asked to be on our local FFA advisory board.
Our son joined our local FFA chapter this year.
Did he join to become a farmer?
No. He joined because he wants to be successful in life. He even at age 14 can see the FFA program teaches him responsibility, accountability, preparedness, organizational skills, respect, tremendous public speaking skills and naturally, leadership.
Hunter is an over active teenager. He hasn’t figured out exactly what he wants to focus on, so he is in everything. It’s the beauty of a small school and small town. There is room for kids to participate as much as they would like. I didn’t have that school environment but my husband did. Hunter attends that same school, in the same town as my husband, Nathan, did.
Nathan wasn’t a farm kid but he loves FFA. He was active at a local, state and national level in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. He played in the National Band in front of former President George H.W. Bush in 1992. He became president of his local chapter. He told me last night as we talked about our evening after getting home that before joining FFA he was an awkward 8th grader. It was his FFA adviser that told him how smart he was and that he could be successful. No one other than his sister or parents had told him that before his FFA adviser did.
I said “How did you know to join FFA?” He said, “My dad told me to get more involved in 8th grade. So on the first day of school, I walked down the hall to FFA teacher’s room and told him, I wanted to join FFA.”
FFA empowered my husband. It changed him forever as a person.
Last night we attended our first ever local FFA chapter banquet. I had no idea what to expect. I was blown away by the student led evening. Hunter has not given enough time to FFA this year. He has split time between many other activities. Last night, however, he heard from state leadership as well as our local chapter kids and adviser, Mr. Brown. When our son stepped forward near the end of the banquet to be recognized as the incoming junior vice-president of our local chapter, I knew something had changed for him. He stood taller. He smiled bigger. He was already being empowered as an 8th grader like my husband was over 20 years ago by the same organization, in the same town, in the same school.