The most vivid memory from my childhood is listening to my dad talk about bull riding. I think it was something in the way he talked about it. Maybe it was the way he pops popcorn.. Every time he makes popcorn he closes his eyes the last eight seconds and imagines he’s on a bull. Or maybe it was the time that my dad took my sister and I to sit back behind the chutes during the bull riding at the National Western. I remember him shaking as he watched each gate swing open. After the rodeo he ran all the way back to the truck because being that close to the action made him that ecstatic. Maybe it was sitting with him in our living room, watching film from his rides; watching the time he got knocked out in McPherson, Kansas or the time he won the rodeo in Carson, Iowa. Maybe it was filling out the words “bull rider” in every blank that asked the “what do you want to be when you grow up?” question. All of these memories and pieces of me made certain that I knew what passion looked like. These things showed me that once I found what I was passionate about, it would give me energy, it would give me determination, and it would give me purpose.
The first day of State FFA Convention my freshman year will forever be ingrained in my mind. My advisor sat between my best friend and I so that we wouldn’t talk during the first session. Then opening ceremonies began. I asked my advisor in awe, “who are those people?” He explained to me that they are state FFA officers, I immediately replied “that is what I want to do” I felt the fire in my heart, and before I even realized why, I set a goal. Before I even knew that what I was feeling was passion, I knew that I had found my bull riding.
On our way home from that convention, and every convention after, up until my senior year, I would look at the state FFA officer application online, and make plans on what I could do to get where I wanted to be – in an association jacket.
Throughout high school I realized there was something different about FFA compared to the rest of the activities that I was a part of. I cared about student council, I enjoyed volleyball, and I worked hard to be a part of National Honor Society, but there was something different about FFA. I felt like I knew a secret, I knew what was in my heart, and what would always be in my heart.
As my journey as a state FFA officer has begun, I have learned more things than thought imaginable in a period of 65 days. The thing I am most excited for? To grow my faith. The best thing about FFA is the ability to combine a passion with a faith. I have never been a part of something outside of a church that has the power to strengthen faith like FFA does. Being a part of leading Chapter Officer Leadership Training showed me that while the silly questions like, “if you had three things on a stranded island, what would they be?” serve a purpose and can be really fun, there is nothing more purposeful than a deep, meaningful conversation. And nothing beats praying with my teammates or talking about our relationships with God. No matter where FFA has taken me, my faith is soon to follow, stronger than before.
FFA creates career readiness in high school students, increases an appreciation of agriculture, and builds a knowledge base on an essential industry. But beyond that, FFA creates lifelong relationships, increases an appreciation for something bigger than oneself, and builds character traits such as work ethic, responsibility, and commitment. FFA also serves as an open door to share our faiths, which is what it really means to make a difference.
Here’s a picture of our officer team. On that April day when I was elected, I had no idea I would meet six new best friends; for this year, and for years to come. Nothing gives me more energy and determination to be better and to serve better than these six special individuals. If you’re a member or supporter of the FFA or anyone interested in what this organization means or stands for, our team looks forward to interacting with you throughout our year of service!