Outgoing FFA president recalls year
Cheyenne – Jonah Zeimens grew up helping his dad on an organic wheat farm outside of Cheyenne. Being involved on the wheat farm was his first exposure to production agriculture. He notes he didn’t grow up showing livestock, but has had a long-time passion for the blue and gold jacket – representing the Wyoming FFA Association.
Zeimens was elected to serve as the Wyoming FFA Association president from 2021-2022, and it was a dream come true, he shares.
Serving the association as president
“Serving as the president was a blessing of a lifetime for me,” shares Zeimens. “I was so humbled to have the opportunity, and it was great to serve people and members of the association.”
Going into the process, he put his best foot forward and gave it his all, no matter the sacrifice, he adds.
“I said I would give up every success I had in life up to that point if I got to serve as a state officer,” he shares. “Just being a part of the state officer team was beyond belief, but getting the opportunity to serve as president is just absolutely humbling and certainly came from God.”
In 2021, Zeimens vied against 25 other candidates for the position, with only nine being chosen to serve as a state officer.
He offers some words of advice for future candidates looking to interview for a state officer position.
“The best piece of advice I think I could give anyone is to know yourself well and be able to talk about yourself,” he says. “Going into the interview room, there is no wrong or right answer – the nominating committee wants to know you.”
“Be comfortable with oneself, know strengths, weaknesses, biggest successes and largest failures. Successful candidates know these things about themselves going in and are willing to admit the good and the bad,” he adds. “Be willing to be vulnerable and be willing to show who you truly are.”
Year in service
“I think the biggest way our team was able to leave our mark was having a successful convention. Prior to state convention, the team talked a lot about how this was the first normal convention for most FFA members since 2018,” he says.
In 2019, the first day of convention was impacted by a snowstorm; in 2020, COVID-19 restricted the event, resulting in the event to take place online; and last year, a lot of events took place in person, but the state convention component was only a two-day event, instead of the normal four, he explains.
“This was the first year we were able to have a four-day convention. This was really exciting as a team leading up to the event, we were able to be the team setting the pace and tone for what a regular convention is,” he notes.
At the same time, planning for a memorable convention is a lot of responsibility, he adds.
“I think we put together a really great convention – this was probably the most energy and excitement we’ve had around a convention in years,” Zeimens says.
and future plans
Zeimens shares he owes a lot of his early inspiration to serve on the state officer team to Trey Campbell, the 2018 Wyoming FFA Association president.
“I remember being a freshman walking into state convention kind of nervous and intimidated about the whole deal, and I’ve never seen so many blue jackets in my life,” he says. “Seeing Trey lead with such ease and vulnerability in front of everyone, and the immediate connection I felt to him really inspired me and is what got me going several years ago.”
In addition to public speaking skills, conflict resolution is something FFA teaches, he shares.
“Through FFA, members get close with teammates. Whether it’s with a chapter officer team, state officer team or even the teams competing – along the way there is going to be conflict,” he explains. “FFA advisors really deserve credit in helping teach members how to resolve conflict in a mature, adult-like manner.”
“I think FFA truly raises a mature, professional young adult better than any other organization,” he adds. “At the end of the day, FFA has been a part of my life for the last seven years, and I look forward to being involved in the future.”
Zeimens’ plan is to continue his post-secondary education at the University of Wyoming to study agriculture education, with ultimate plans to be an FFA advisor.
“I love FFA so much, the best thing I can do now, given I can’t wear the blue jacket anymore, is to teach it,” he concludes. “I don’t think anything meets the feeling of helping and watching a student grow over a four- to five-year span. I want to be able to make an impact on someone else. The FFA organization is the best thing out there, and I will never walk away from it.”
Brittany Gunn is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.