Last week marked my 10th National FFA Convention that I have attended since joining FFA as a high school student in 2007. Walking down FFA Way with now a group of students following in stride gave me chills. Listening to the Wednesday night concert besides my students taking in one of the best concerts I’ve seen in my life. Listening to a powerful Retiring Address and processing with the young members afterwards about what fears they were facing in their own lives.
As we close out another season of National FFA Convention activities I am reminded about why I became an Ag Teacher. It was the long bus or vehicle rides where I really got to know my ag teachers as real people and as mentors. It was the awe-inspiring sense I got as I saw the sea of Blue Jackets for the first time. Over the course of this trip I got to continue that tradition of mentoring and sharing my heart, life, spirit, and the occasional French fry.
Fall is my favorite season and the high-tide of Fall remains National FFA Convention. Over the course of the trip I asked students to capture the feeling, image, and sense of one experience fully. Imprinting it permanently in their mind. I asked them to do this during Friday night. As I asked them to do this, I shared mine:
“It was 2007 and I was a lost Junior in High School. Unsure of truly what I wanted to do in life. I was asked on a whim to tag along on the National FFA Convention trip. Vividly I remember sitting in the lounge of the Pacer Stadium enjoying chia tea before a session. Through the wall-to-ceiling glass I could see the mass of Blue Jackets…it was snowing a very light and fluffy snow. Something about the scene struck a deep cord with me and I have never forgotten that moment. What made that moment truly special though was across from me was my advisor and mentor, Mr. Regier. We were discussing about my thoughts of life and he was at that moment planting the seeds of becoming an ag teacher.”
My life was forever changed by my National FFA Convention experiences. I’m sure many others have been and will be as well. As over 67,000 FFA members return home to their communities this week we have a rare opportunity to make National FFA Convention mean something deeper and create a lasting impact. This year’s theme was ‘JUST ONE’. Yes, it only takes just one mentor to change a life. Let’s continue to be those mentors and build the capacity of the members we took so they may assume roles of leadership in our chapters, schools, and communities. National Convention should not just be an ‘event’…but an experience that will transform! Let’s be intentional this week as we process National FFA Convention and make it count!