On Sunday mornings, I teach the Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade bible class. They are a fun little crew. This morning we talked about when God chose Joshua to replace Moses as the new leader of the Israelites and lead them into the promised land. Moses spent the last few months of his life encouraging the Isrealites and Joshua, reminding them of God’s laws and of all the good things God had done for them and the generations before them. He wanted Joshua to be successful. He was trying to help, teach and encourage while he was still around to do so.
After bible class, I gathered my things and on my way to the auditorium I was so excited to see a cluster of blue corduroy jackets. In case you hadn’t heard, it’s National FFA Week! In Waynoka, there has been a long-standing tradition that the FFA chapter attends church together on the Sunday of National FFA Week. I remember doing this as an FFA member and I remember my older sisters taking part in the same activity.
I guess you could say there’s a bit of a blue and gold tradition in my family. My dad and his brothers were active in the FFA, my mom was a chapter sweetheart. (Anyone remember the white jackets?) Both of my older sisters were very active in FFA and experienced success in public speaking, livestock judging and showing livestock and one of them served as a State FFA Officer. Because of my older sisters, I was able to experience State FFA and National FFA conventions at a young age. You see, I’m the ‘little sister’ by 11 years, so by the time I was finally old enough to wear one of those blue jackets, my sisters had graduated college and I had brother in-laws. One was a great speech coach and the other was one of the best when it came to fitting show cattle and picking out the good ones! I had a great support system and cheering section.
With a lot of help, encouragement and some occasional pushing from one of Oklahoma’s best Agricultural Education instructors, I too experienced success in public speaking, exhibiting cattle and livestock judging. I also had the opportunity to serve as a State FFA Officer and yes . . . I still believe that FFA Alumni Camp is one of the greatest places on earth and I get excited if I have the opportunity to attend State FFA Convention. Needless to say the FFA left a mark on me.
Now let’s talk about my dad. When he was in FFA, it was a male only organization. In fact, he actually voted against letting girls in the FFA in 1969! (That still makes me giggle when you think about him having three daughters.) In all seriousness, the FFA helped my dad get started farming and ranching and provided him with some basic skills that allowed the operation to grow and support his family.
Like my dad, the FFA provided activities that helped me decide on a career path. To this day, I utilize skills I learned from participating in Career Development Events and attending leadership development workshops. My Supervised Agriculture Experience project taught me about customer service, prompt and tactful communication and accurate record keeping.
While all the skills listed above are used practically daily, one of the most treasured things that the FFA gave me are people. I rarely go to anything work related that I don’t see someone I met back in high school through the FFA. And it’s truly special to run into those adults that supported me, pushed me and maybe even reminded of the important things through my years in the FFA. I truly appreciate the time they took to teach me, help me and encouragement me just like Moses did to Joshua. At some point we all have to hand over the reigns to someone else and it’s important to help, teach and encourage while we can.
When I see a cluster of blue jackets, it obviously brings back fond memories, but the words pride, leadership, polished, future and bright come to mind. It was a treat to kick off this week with a couple dozen blue corduroy jackets lining the front pews during worship. I just realized the reason I still like going to FFA Convention . . . it’s encouraging, it’s fun and as an adult it’s refreshing to see how the FFA is preparing our youth for the future.