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.
Kelly M. Rivard says
I reared up reading this. I wish i could have had more time in FFA, but getting to take part in building a chapter from the ground uup my senior year was amazing.
Best of luck to your son as he moves forward! What a great tradition!
Doug Leier says
Proud to be FFA alumnus and nodded my head as I read the post. Like your husband I didn’t have a niche to fit into at my HS–it was a little bigger than most small towns–and about 3x the size of the school I moved from in Jr. High. My new HS was too big for a small town kid to fit in.
I wans’t a farm kid, but enjoyed hands on and anything outdoors, so I gave Ag a try…and then the FFA. My senior year in HS I was elected president…it gave me the success and grew the confidence I needed for the future. 22 years late I’m still active in the FFA on the board and attend the State Convention every year.
You are so right the FFA members categorically ‘get it’ sure like everything in life there might be a few which don’t..but Hunter should be proud to be a member of the FFA and the FFA proud to have him!
love that he wore nathan’s jacket! sweet!
Prairie Mother says
Yay for FFA! What a great organization. I really hope my kids get to be involved in it when they are older. I wasn’t in it but my 6 siblings, dad, husband, 2 brother in laws and one sister in law were. We even have a picture of all of them in their blue jackets from a few years ago.
Colleen Cecil says
I love FFA! I participated in every aspect and know I am a better person for it. I also learned while reading your post that Nathan and I were at the same National FFA convention when President Bush spoke. Small world. Congrats Hunter on your new leadership role! And by the way, I was holding back a few years as I read this and he’s not even my kid so you have every right to tear-up Katie.
Sounds like an awesome evening that sets him up for an awesome future as well!
This is a great organization that does so many promising things at our local high school. I have no doubt Hunter will excel in FFA!
Annie, Morning Joy Farm says
I was at that same National Convention!! As our chapter was going through security, the secret service officer asked me “Where’s North Dakota?”.
FFA rocks, I’m a proud alum. Our family continues to be involved every way we can!
I credit FFA for helping me realize my passion for agriculture, and empowering me to be who I am today. I have been away from it now for a few years, but I’m sure the sentiment will return as our family will be attending our local chapter banquet this evening to watch my baby sister (ok, she’s 16 but still little in my eyes) be inducted as an officer. Thank you for sharing your story!
Wishek is so fortunate to have a wonderful advisor. I certainly hope this program continues because it is valuable on so many levels!!!
Katlyn Rumbold says
Great post!! Some of my favorite memories happened in that blue and gold jacket….FFA helped me get where I am at today! Truly a great organization:)