Thursday, February 20, 2014

National FFA Week: Looking Back & Looking Forward

Happy National FFA Week everyone!
Whether you were an FFA member or not, this week is special in that people across the country are all celebrating American Agriculture and the continuing of educating our youth about it. For those of us who were always extremely involved in our home chapter’s FFA Week activities, this week can serve as a sad reality that yes, “I really am growing up.” We went from one year leading multiple philanthropy events, fundraisers, and workshops, to studying for the next test and making it through the first year of college. The first year I spent this week as a college student, there was a feeling of disconnect.  I felt like I was losing a part of myself since FFA was gone. I decided my friends at school didn’t understand, and that there was nothing that could fill that hole being an FFA member left behind. I couldn’t have been more wrong. For all of you new college students dwelling in what FFA and 4-H “was” for you, I’m here to tell you what they still ARE for you.

1.      It’s not actually over.

No, you can’t compete in Parliamentary procedure anymore or go to monthly meetings, but there are a lot of things you still can do as a college student. For FFA members, you are still eligible to show livestock, submit Supervised Agricultural Experience Proficiencies (SAEs) and apply for your American Degree. For 4-H members you can still attend State Conference, show at your county fair one more time, and be a Teen Leader at 4-H camp. There are always more activities to participate in just talk to your county agent or advisor and keep going!

2.      Become an active alumni.

Wow, that word made you feel old right? Well as much as I hate to say it, the day you graduated high school you became the alum of numerous organizations. But push away that negative connotation of the word and look at it just like a milestone- a sign of hard work to become the person you are today who will accomplish great things. Being an alumni is your chance to give back and help those after you have the opportunities you had. Even if you’re the definition of a broke college student, find a way to give back whenever you can. Send an encouraging text, stop by a practice when you are in for a weekend, or even volunteer with another chapter or extension office.  Anything you do will mean something to those members, teachers and agents.

3.      Join something new.

College gives us the opportunity to not only expand on what we enjoyed in high school but also to really find out more about ourselves. So maybe your college doesn’t have Collegiate 4-H or FFA. Joining organizations that aren’t identical to the clubs you were a part of in high school gives you the chance to find new interests and find that group of people that can be your support group and feel like family, just like you have had in years past.

4.      Share what you have gained.

You know how you can’t stop talking about all the awesome things FFA did for you or how you wouldn’t be the person you are today without 4-H? Well why not share this with others. Those new organizations you are joining are looking for passionate, hard working and strong willed people just like you to get active in their club and take future leadership positions. Why mope about what you miss when you can start planning for what you are going to implement to make your new organization even better? Be that active new member who isn’t afraid to speak up in front of the group and can work with any team. You’ll be amazed at how much joy can be attained just by finding your place and sharing your ideas. 

5.      Become an AGvocate.

Okay... the play on words may be cheesy, but the longer you are in college the more you will understand the increasing need for more of these. AGvocates are those that simply advocate for the agricultural industry. This seems like a quite a job for just a college 19-20 year old student but our voice is more important than you know. It’s the small things that can make the biggest difference. Using social media to highlight the positive side of our industry, such as posting pictures of feeding hay or tweeting about vaccinating your weaned pigs, every little bit helps. We don’t have to inform the world about agriculture all at once. We can start with our peers, the future consumers, and work our way up from there.  Use social media to also learn how others are being Agvocates and share others' experiences.    

I hope these tips help you to make it through National FFA Week with a more positive and enthusiastic outlook. Remember the more involved and immersed you get within your college and organizations the better your overall experience will be. The National FFA Organization and 4-H have given you these skills and experiences for you to share with others- don’t let them down!

Renee is a sophomore from Princeton, Kentucky and is studying Agricultural Economics.  She was involved in FFA and other activities in high school, and has involved herself as a CAFE Ambassador, a member of Sigma Alpha, Block and Bridle and other activities at UK.  

1 comment:

  1. Renee, this is great! It couldn't have been said better!