I was at Applebee's in West Lafayette, Indiana this evening for dinner and was pleasantly surprised to see a crowd of blue corduroy-clad FFA members loading into a short bus (not unlike my home chapter's!) on their way out. That's right, the Indiana FFA State Convention is in full swing at Purdue University this week! Although I really have nothing to do with Indiana FFA or their convention, it was nice to see the familiar jackets flooding the local businesses with their presence.
That presence always brings back waves of memories for me and thoughts of the distance I've travelled in my (sniff...) almost year since the conclusion of my term as a state officer and, in the fall, year since becoming an FFA alumnus. Everything seems so long ago and, at the same time, just yesterday. As a member, I always strived to accomplish great things and make a difference. That hasn't changed, but for a long time I thought the only way to do so was through the organization. I've come to realize though that that is not the case at all.
This summer I'm on my internship with the National Junior Swine Association and I absolutely love it. While I will still continue on my path to becoming an agriscience teacher, sometimes I wonder if that's where I'll end up. I value ag education and the FFA like no other. However, this summer I'm seeing that the opportunity to help youth develop personally and professionally exists through a number of different avenues and all of them are valuable. I am seeing people that I grew up with and people I just met trying to better themselves by running for Junior Board positions with the NJSA. I just talked to a dad today who, when asked whether his daughter would be participating in the speech contest at our next show, said, "This is our first time at this show, but yes she will. I think it will be good for her." My eyes are really opening to the world of possibilities that lies before me and I am definitely keeping my options open.
Even as I am experiencing new things, so are the people that were on my state officer team--something I was reminded of when those blue jackets invaded the Applebee's. My state president is running for National FFA Office for the second time; it is a feat that I can do nothing but give her credit for, knowing the heartache that came following the hard work of running the first time. My Region I State Vice President is running for an NJSA Junior Board position and is working for Michigan Agricultural Commodities. My State Treasurer is working for the State Park system and loving it. My State Sentinel is back at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the second summer finishing a Poultry Science program. The rest of my team has found summer and full-time interests as well, and it is so interesting to watch everyone grow up. Who knows where we'll be in 5, 10, 20 years? No matter what, it never ceases to amaze me the connection we all have and to know it all began with a little (well, actually kind of big!) organization revolving around a group of people who "believe in the future of agriculture".
It's good to know, though, that we can take what we learned in the FFA and do good elsewhere. A great movie once said, "Don't you mean, do well?"
And like the movie replied, I also say, "No. I mean do good."