|Even as a toddler, my sister was a FFA fan.|
My own FFA memories bring back a mixture of smiles and tears, but the truth is I wouldn't be who I am today without that organization. I still remember that day in 8th grade where we toured the high school. All of the organizations and clubs had booths set up in the library to try to recruit new members. My friend led me over to the FFA table, she knew some people there and her older sister had been in FFA. Sure, it sounded cool I thought, why not? Little did I know that organization would change my life.
|One of my senior pictures - in FFA official dress.|
If you knew me now, it would be hard to imagine that there was ever a time that I wasn't passionate about agriculture. But until I joined that club, I honestly hadn't thought about it. Sure, I preferred to live in the country, and I knew country boys were more my style, but that's about as far as my thoughts went on the subject. Over the next four years I began to realize what a huge impact agriculture had played in my heritage and the even bigger impact it would have on my future.
|Receiving a state award for Nursery CDE team.|
I'm not sure anyone can make it though high school drama free, and I know I definitely didn't. Surviving seemed to be a daily battle, and the ag department wasn't an exception to that rule. But from my sophomore year on, I lived and breathed ag and FFA. Throughout high school I was our chapter Secretary, Vice President, and President. I was on the forestry, soils, knowledge, floriculture, and nursery CDE (career development events) teams. I competed in national CDE events twice, and was a district FFA officer. I went to National Conventions in Indianapolis, IN and Louisville, KY. I went to the WLC leadership conference in Washington D.C. I received numerous chapter awards, my state FFA degree, and later my national FFA degree. For a few years after I graduated high school, my heart would literally ache when I watched my brothers participate in FFA activities, because I missed it so much.
|My FFA officer team senior year.|
Now would be the time when I tell you that the friendships I made in FFA are still strong to this day, and I wish I could. I had a small group of friends and we were thick as thieves in high school. We planned events and coordinated meetings. We traveled and laughed and competed and succeeded and failed together. But the sad truth is people change, and sometimes in that change things fall apart, and it's not really anyone's fault. This is why the thought of FFA is bittersweet to me, but I wouldn't change my experiences for anything - I met my husband through FFA and he was the best thing that ever happened to me.
|Newly dating - Dustin and I at a FFA community service event.|
I've never been a life of the party, social butterfly type of person. In fact I was painfully shy as a child. I still don't look forward to new situations and interacting with new people. But through FFA, I was able to become chapter president, and a district officer. Things I would have never dreamed of being able to do when I was younger. I could stand up in front of a group of people and take charge, even if it wasn't my idea of a good time. FFA taught me important life skills I would have had a hard time developing otherwise, there's no question about it.
|My brothers and I when I received my National Degree.|
I still believe this organization is doing amazing things for today's youth. And it's not even about the agriculture, although that's an important part. It's about those life skills, making connections, achieving goals, and setting yourself up for greatness. It's about recognizing and respecting where we came from and planning for the future. I only hope this great organization continues to get the support it needs to be available to my future children, so they too, can make their own bittersweet memories.
|My first meeting presiding as chapter president.|
"I believe that American agriculture can and will hold true to the best traditions of our national life and that I can exert an influence in my home and community which will stand solid for my part in that inspiring task."
The FFA Creed - E.M. Tiffany