President’s Day week-for four years this week meant everything to me- from my Freshman Greenhand days till my Senior banquet it meant one thing National FFA Week. Future Farmers of America. It meant muddy trucks, fundraiser lunches, blue and gold and country attire days. Even though I hung up my jacket almost a year and a half ago some things haven’t changed.
We were laughed at, for being yes, a favorite mocking and mature nickname, the Future Faggots of America. We were laughed at for our black skirts, our panty hose and heels and our dress scarves and corduroy national blue jackets and being able to recite our Creed from heart.
We were mocked by students and teachers alike for being so serious, we weren’t a real club, we didn’t do anything and we certainly weren’t an athletic club so we had no real standing with most schools and our classes weren’t for “booksmarts” as some teachers had said . Clearly, these people had never even wondered down the CTE (career and technical education) hallway, because we had more real world experience and skills than anyone just playing ball and just hitting the books.
From my most humiliating experience Freshman year in public speaking (first time ever speaking in front of people, Mr. Goetten’s 6th hour shop class, all boys Juniors and Seniors, horrible flashbacks) to walking across that Illinois State FFA Convention stage to receive my State Degree a month after my high school graduation and everything in between, I lived to serve.
Most people see the FFA for what it is based upon, agriculture, the center for our little (haha) club. But our family is so much more. The Association prides itself on leadership, teamwork, personal growth and being America proud. Our colors are chosen by those are nation chose to live by, our flags fly proudly, our pledge said proudly hands over our hearts and our hearts belong to the America we work to serve and live our lives to feed.
Through my CDE’s (career development event) I learned how to judge livestock on its conformation and its ability to serve us for food, how to judge meat and milk products based on its quality for our intake and nutrition, how to tell apart weeds and seeds, how to run a business and how to run a meeting according to Roberts Rules of Parliamentary Order, and how to give a speech to a room full of people without panicking. I learned how to serve my school, my community, and strangers all through my service to one association.
I went in a bratty kid and came out-well an older kid but a little less a brat- and came out with connections of friends all over the state, friends who have continued their service to agriculture at a political and spokesperson positions. Who as college aged students are across the country and running with the “big boys” and playing key roles in agriculture at the public level and caring for us plain old run of the mill farmers.
Being a FFA member didn’t just meaning being an aggie it meant being a family. FFA doesn’t just mean Future Farmers of America; it means Friends Forever and Always.