How My FFA Experience Still Comes Into Play Seven Years Later
Seven years ago, I wore my blue and gold corduroy jacket for the last time. When I think of my time as an FFA member, like many people, I get nostalgic.
The stories I could tell from this period of my life are sweet, some funny and almost all too ag-nerdy for most people to want to listen to. So, in lieu of sharing those memories, I’d like to share how my investment in being an FFA member is currently paying off for me in honor of National FFA Week.
Whilst an FFA member, I had to not only be an interview candidate multiple times, but be an interviewer a few times, as well. I learned what to say in interviews and what not to say from both sides of the table.
I’m sure the first interview I ever had was more than lacking, but being able to have the practice in high school gave me a leg up when it came to interviews later on. This “jump start” on interviews created a domino effect for me: from scholarship interviews in high school, to internship interviews in college and finally, for job interviews in “the real world.” Interviewing in FFA gave me the opportunity to get feedback from real, agricultural industry professionals – something incredibly valuable as a 16-year-old.
Another way FFA gave me critique from working professionals? Resumes. The first resume I ever made up was for an FFA competition, and I’m sure it looked horrendous. However, an ag teacher gave me feedback on said resume, and I tweaked it until it was right.
On top of this, I had to help plan and execute multiple events as an FFA member and officer – something I capitalized on in college when I became a certified event planner.
I’ve never really been nervous in front of other people, specifically with public speaking. However, giving speeches at FFA competitions and camps, being judged on those speeches and then taking critiques and suggestions for better public speaking in the future helped me significantly. I apply many of these suggestions when I’m giving speeches at conferences and to ag classes today, seven years later.
If we want to break it down even further: The first speech I ever gave about agriculture, specifically, turned into a segment in all of my public speeches I give today.
A cliché we always hear about FFA is it’s more than “plows, sows and cows,” but you know why it’s a cliché? Because it’s true!
FFA taught me how to conduct myself in a professional manner and prepared me for my current career as an agricultural communicator.
Now is the time for the cheesy part: FFA gave me more friends than I could count. And I don’t mean “say hello at a grocery store and move on” friends, I mean some of the absolute best friends I could’ve ever asked for.
I was the maid of honor in my Greenhand president’s wedding. I was the maid of honor in my Chapter Conduct vice president’s wedding as well. I lived with a fellow district officer from a neighboring high school for three years while we were in college, and we’re still great friends to this day.
When I got to college, I ran into a handful of other people I’d met at FFA conventions and camps throughout the years, and our friendships bloomed as well.
I guess when it comes down to it, some of my best memories from high school involved goofing off in the back of a bus headed to an FFA competition; laughing with my buddies in the ag shop; and making silly – and very annoying, I might add – inside jokes with friends from other schools at leadership camps and conventions.
As cliché as it sounds, I’m most thankful for my time as an FFA member for these connections and friendships I made with people who not only shared a similar interest as me, but an interest in me well after we graduated high school.
FFA not only prepared me for my future as an agriculturist but brought me together with people who have gone out of their way to check in on me and visit me, even from 1,000-plus miles away. Truly, there’s nothing more you can ask of an organization, in my opinion.