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FFA: A great opportunity

Sometimes in life you are lucky enough to find your calling. I believe that agriculture is my calling. I likely knew that from an early age, but I think it was really brought out in high school with the activities in which I was involved.

FFA definitely had a strong influence in my life. I was lucky enough to have one of the best advisors around. She took a below average chapter and built it to greatness. She saw potential in students and helped develop that into leaders.

Each and every experience we had was a learning experience. I recall my first trip to the National FFA Convention as a freshman, and just being in awe of the number of members in official dress. My brother had been in the national chorus the previous year and he was also along for the convention. I remember listening to a solo by a girl from Florida that really touched me. She sang Whitney Houston's "One Moment in Time." It was then that I realized all the opportunities available for me in FFA and that I should take advantage of them because we only get one moment in time to do that.

Our Dexfield FFA chapter did things and made things happen. We went from being a joke to having several district officers, five state officers, a national officer candidate, numerous state and national awards, and members of the state and national band and chorus. A feat done in just 9 years at our school. Proof that a good leader can make positive changes. Alumni members of our chapter have now moved on to successes in each of their professions.

Being involved in youth agriculture organizations such as FFA can teach so many life lessons that can be used throughout a person's life including leadership, public speaking, respect for others, and the lesson that hard work will pay off in the end regardless of the outcome, because you will always learn something.

The FFA organization celebrates FFA Week this week, Feb. 19 to 26. FFA Week gives members a chance to educate the public about agriculture. During this week FFA members will talk to schools, public groups and the media about the importance of agriculture in our everyday lives.

The message of agriculture may be highlighted during this week, but is said all year long by the over 506,000 members of over 7,400 FFA chapters across the country.

Becoming involved in such a great organization has given me and so many others the opportunities to excel in life. Past FFA members have risen to greatness in their professions as agricultural commissioners, farm broadcasters, company presidents, journalist for nationally known publications such as the New York Times and National Geographic, university deans, country music stars, actors, professional athletes, congressmen, representatives, governors and even President of the United States.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is a former National FFA vice president and said, "The leadership skills I developed and the values that were enhanced during my FFA years have provided concrete results in my life."

So the next time an FFA member knocks on your door wanting you to buy fruit or poinsettias to support the local chapter and their activities, or asks you to advise them on something you are knowledgeable about, please take the time to do it. FFA is a wonderful organization with so many opportunities for young people to serve our industry in the future.

As the motto reads: Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve--lessons I was fortunate enough to learn through FFA.

Jennifer Carrico can be reached by phone at 515-833-2120, or by e-mail at jcarrico@hpj.com.

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