Annamarie Stone, VP
Dec 05 2022

It’s Okay to Look Back

We have all heard the quotes about not looking back or just keeping our eyes forward, but I have come to find that some of the most beautiful things are those that are behind us.  

When it came to picking a school I knew I wanted to stay close to home. I decided I would go to Mizzou, and then I had to choose where I would live. After some deliberation I came to the conclusion that I would live at home so I could continue my SAE, save some money, and live closer to the members that I am serving this year. Although driving is not my favorite task and Columbia traffic can test my nerves, there has been one good thing that leaving the house at 6:30 a.m. has brought me. Each morning when I get into my car the sun is just starting to peer over the golden harvest ready corn and each time I look into my rearview mirror that is what I see. After seeing the breathtaking view morning after morning, it got me thinking that if all I did while I drove was look forward then – one it would get monotonous, two I wouldn’t know who was behind me, and three I would miss the sunrise. 

Sometimes in life we tend to only look forward and forget about the beautiful views that are behind. When we only look forward we become numb to our surroundings just like the views get monotonous. When we only look forward we forget about who is following us and looking to us for guidance. When we only look forward we sometimes forget about some of the most joyous times in our life. I encourage you to look into the rearview mirror. Remember the accomplishments, the friendships, the smiles, and then remember that although there are beautiful moments behind us just like the sunrise, there is something beautiful that lays ahead for us. 

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Nov 29 2022

2023 Public Speaking Institute

Saturday January 7, 2023 – Springfield

9AM – 3:30PM at the MSU Darr Ag Center

Saturday January 21, 2023 – Columbia

9AM – 3:30PM at the Bradford Research Farm

 Former national FFA officer and speech trainer, Andrew McCea, will lead this event to help FFA members of all levels improve their speaking skills and prepare for the LDE season.  State FFA officers will also provide insights on specific speaking LDEs.  This is the perfect place for FFA members to…

Improve public speaking skills

Get tips and prepare for FFA Speaking Contests

Learn to become an Advocate for Agriculture

Have fun and learn the essentials to better speaking!

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Cooper Hamlin, VP
Nov 25 2022

Falling Is Not Failure

After a week like no other, the Missouri FFA State Officer team made our way back home from the 95th National FFA Convention & Expo. As I watched the autumn leaves fall from trees and fly by, I mentally replayed the last session of convention, the session in which the former National FFA Officer team passed on the gavel to the new. Just as these leaves departed from the tree to signal the beginning of autumn, the past national officers stepped away from their positions, signaling new beginnings. As I thought about this session, one moment in particular stood out to me. The moment occurred just after Jessica Herr of Pennsylvania was announced as the national secretary. Hearing her name called, Jessica sprinted from the audience and toward the stage. Before Jessica could reach her destination, she lost her balance and fell, losing both of her heels in opposite directions. Jessica knew she had two options, either stay down and search for the heels, or keep going. In an instant she was back to her feet and on the stage!

 

We all have times in life where we feel like we have taken a fall. Whether it’s at a contest, in school, at work, or during a speech. However, I encourage us all to be more like Jessica. Instead of dwelling on the failure, let’s focus on picking ourselves up and continuing to reach our stage of success. We might not have to lose the heels, but we may have to let go of some fears and negative thoughts to do so. The words “fall” and “fail” are very similar, so it is up to us to distinguish between the two. As we continue our journey through the FFA and life, remember: Falling is not failure.


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Hannah Rice, VP
Nov 20 2022

Five Kernels of Corn

Every Thanksgiving, my family and friends gather for a delicious meal of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce and pie. We celebrate fellowship and thank God for the many blessings that He has given us. However, before we dig into the mouth-watering food, we have a meaningful, long-standing tradition. We pass around a dish of corn kernels and each chooses five. It has been said that food was once so scarce for the Pilgrims that each person was rationed to five kernels of corn a day for an entire winter. Before tasting the first forkful of casserole, my family and I go around the table and each list five things we are thankful for. This year, one thing that will be at the top of my list is agriculture. I am thankful for the simplicity of my childhood spent on the farm. I am thankful for the wonderful people involved in each step of the journey from farm to fork. And finally, I am thankful to live in a time and place where our food system is secure, and I go to bed with a full stomach. Here are some more blessings I am afforded thanks to American agriculture: 

 

A sense of belonging

Great opportunities

Respect from peers and adults

Insight from professionals

Creative outlets

Unconditional friendship

Learning by doing

Training that will equip me for the future

Unity

Reasons to work hard

Endless love and support

 

This holiday season, we should take time to ponder our many blessings. While life is far from perfect, many of us have eaten more than five kernels of corn today. That is all thanks to the farmers, ranchers, agribusiness professionals, educators and agri scientists who have devoted their lives to filling our plates. 

 

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Emily Nelson, VP
Nov 15 2022

Finding Peace Through Balance

At the 95th National FFA Convention, I found myself both in awe and overwhelmed by everything happening around me. I felt like a clown standing on one leg on a balancing board trying not to drop what I was juggling. While this balancing act of a clown dressed in bright colors is amusing to a crowd, it is a little harder to actually pull off. I found myself realizing that balance is an important skill to learn in order to handle life’s challenges. There is peace in balance.

 

Days at convention were filled with busyness, going from event to event and hearing from so many motivational speakers. The day had many moving parts and left me feeling a large range of thoughts and emotions. The complexity of each day took time and patience to evaluate. While the week was very busy, I found joy in simple matters. From little moments shared with my teammates, to the comfort of my corduroy jacket in a sea of blue. There is beauty in complexity and time to appreciate simplicity.

 

Over the course of the week I was reminded of FFA’s history and its firm roots in agriculture. The National Officers spent time reflecting on their past year of service. They used their past to serve as a mark of how far they have come. While they took time to acknowledge the past, they were living in the present moment. I could see that each officer was entirely present and soaking in each moment. Their faces had sincerity and joy written all over them. There is room to appreciate the past and to live in the present.

 

The National FFA Convention reminded me that there is peace in balance. You cannot have complexity without simplicity, and you cannot remember the past without living in the present. Though I might have felt like a clown performing a juggling act, I was able to find peace through balance.

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Oct 04 2022

2022 National Finalists

CDE/LDE PARTICIPANTS:
  • Ag Communications-Columbia
  • Ag Issues Forum-Paris
  • Ag Sales – Troy
  • Ag Mechanics – North Shelby
  • Agronomy – North Shelby
  • Conduct of Meetings – North Shelby
  • Creed – Kaden Pham – Pierce City
  • Dairy Cattle – Butler
  • Dairy Handlers – Addison Tharp-Republic
  • Employment Skills – Gavin King-Pierce City
  • Extemp Speaking – Hannah Rice – Brunswick
  • Farm Business Mgt – Palmyra
  • Floriculture – North Callaway
  • Food Science – Monroe City
  • Forestry – Forsyth
  • Horse – Clinton
  • Livestock – Fair Grove
  • Meats – Bowling Green
  • Milk Quality – Halfway
  • Nursery/Landscape – Van-Far
  • Parliamentary – Troy
  • Poultry – Columbia
  • Public Speaking – Owen Neeley – Lockwood

AGRISCIENCE FAIR:

Animal Systems – Division 3 – Abigail Burns-Gallatin

Environ Services/NRS – Division 3 – Jonah Visser – Tuscumbia

Food Products – Division 3 – Brooklyn Pendleton – Tuscumbia

Food Products – Division 5 – Spencer Vossler – Crest Ridge

Food Products – Division 6 – Lorelai Myers/Clara Smith-Pleasant Hope

Plant Systems – Division 3 – Colin Stokes-Tuscumbia


NATIONAL CHAPTER:

35 Three Star Chapters — Highest award for a chapter
Premier Chapter: Building Communities Finalist –Blue Springs

2022 MISSOURI TIDBITS:
  • 582 American Degree Recipients – #1 in number recipients
  • National Officer Candidate – Colin Wilburn
  • 13 National Delegates
  • 3 National Talent Performers   
    • Easton Beezley – Ozark
    • Kennedy Parrish – Green City
    • Coy Stephan – Appleton City
  • 5 National Chorus Member
    Anna Barnes, Monroe City; Elias McKinley, Warrensburg; Sophia Mudd, Monroe City; Autumn Olejniczak, Smithton; Logan Petree, Tipton
  • 14 National Band Members
    Noelle Abend, Rich Hill; Dakota Forrester, Eldon; Taryn Fuemmeler, Glasgow; Juana Arely Gonzalez, Brunswick; Leah Guss, Warrenton; Cora Johnson, Montgomery County R-II; Doralynn Lee, Warrenton; Ashley Morsbach, Plattsburg; Austin Rush, Eldon; Hayden Schapeler, Rich Hill; Tinley Schneider, Macon; Carissa Simagna, Aurora; Brittney Simagna, Aurora; Corbin Woodall, Silex
  • 2 Teachers receiving Honorary American Degree
    Sherry Byram, Owensville, MO; Sarah Peterson, Mansfield, MO
  • 7 Individuals receiving Honorary American Degree
    Dave Baker, Columbia, MO;  The Late Edward Hager, Eugene, MO;  Eddie Sydenstricker, Mexico, MO; Aimee Hood, Mindy McDermott, Conner McKenzie
  • Hall of States – Centralia FFA
  • National FFA Delegate Committee Chairman –
    Colton Roy, State President will serve as the National Committee Chairs for the Agricultural Education Delivery Empowerment Committee.
PROFICIENCY AWARDS:
  1. Agricultural Education – Emily Hoyt – Audrain Co. R-VI
  2. Mechanics Repair & Maintenance—Trentin Doss-East Buchanan
  3. Agricultural Sales – Entrepreneurship – Annamarie Stone –Centralia
  4. Beef Production – Placement – Jack Peterson-Carrollton Area Career Center
  5. Dairy Production-Entrepreneurship—Lila Wantland-Niangua
  6. Diversified Prod. – Entrepreneurship/Placement—Justin Duenke-Audrain Co. R-VI
  7. Diversified Crop Production – Placement – Corbin Sampson-Kirksville
  8. Diversified Horticulture Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement—Trenton Jones-Higginsville
  9. Equine Science Entrepreneurship –Jaron Thebeau-Mexico
  10. Equine Science Placement –Dylan Ellis-East Buchanan
  11. Fruit Production- Entrepreneurship/Placement—Tyler Hilgedick-Ashland
  12. Grain Production- Entrepreneurship/ Placement—Michael Dierking –Santa Fe
  13. Service Learning – Miranda Patterson-South Shelby
  14. Small Animal Production and Care- Entrepreneurship/Placement – Benjamin Byrd-Troy
  15. Swine Production-Placement –Colby Ruether-Troy
  16. Turf Grass Management- Entrepreneurship/Placement-Wayland Mckenzie-Boonville
  17. Wildlife Production and Management-Trent Dowell-Gallatin
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Jacob King, VP
Oct 04 2022

“Fall” Into Opportunity

Jacob King

Fall is upon us. The new school year is underway and ready to present new opportunities. With fall comes leaves changing color, exciting town festivals, holidays such as Halloween and Thanksgiving, and cooler temperatures. Unlike fall, FFA continues to stay hot by offering rewarding and engaging opportunities such as a trip to National Convention, participating in a fall public speaking contest, various fundraisers, and other fun chapter activities.

 

As members of Missouri FFA and the National FFA Organization, it is our job to embrace and “fall” into these amazing opportunities. National FFA Convention and Expo is a wonderful opportunity for you to learn what agriculture is doing in other states and parts of the world. Also, National FFA Convention and Expo is a great opportunity for involvement in your chapter and to meet members that are from different regions of the United States and beyond. 

 

Halloween can be spooky, but fun, and so is public speaking. It is common to be spooked about the idea of speaking in front of other people. This fall may be a chance for you to overcome that fear and grow as an FFA member. I challenge you to meet your fear of public speaking head on and participate in a fall public speaking contest this year. Even though it may seem scary at first, it will be worthwhile in the end.

 

During this fall season, FFA chapters from across the state are right in the thick of chapter fundraising and activities. Make it a goal to participate in fundraising and other activities. These events are great in developing life skills and meaningful friendships.

 

Missouri FFA members, take advantage of these events and “fall” into opportunities.

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Malerie Schutt, VP
Oct 04 2022

Paving Your Path & Owning It!

As most are aware, school has been in session all around the state for some time now. While the thought of being back at school where you sit in a classroom for seven to eight hours of the day can be slightly gruesome at times, there are good things that come out of being at school. Homework in high school can be overwhelming sometimes, but the eye-opening experiences you get to endure throughout the process are a real treat, to say the least. High school is an amazing time to try new things and embrace opportunities that will only shape us to be better individuals. I can recall a time when I realized that school can be a lot more fun than what it is perceived to be at times.

 

My freshman year of high school, for instance, was one where I started out not sure what direction I wanted to go. As I was introduced to the various clubs and organizations, including FFA, I was hesitant to join any clubs that my friends wouldn’t. My main worry at the time was that I would be considered the “oddball” out of my friend group for joining an organization that I knew the rest of my friends wouldn’t have an interest in. At first, before I made the decision to join FFA, I had many discussions with my parents to validate if this was even the right choice for me. After sharing with them my reason why I was hesitant to join, my dad then said to me, “It’s pointless to worry about fitting in, do what you love, and forget about the rest.” While I didn’t take this advice to heart right away, I soon understood that my father was right. After spending my entire first year as an FFA member in fear of being different from those around me, I realized I didn’t get the best experience I could have in my first year. Instead of fearlessly owning my path, I allowed myself to worry about what others thought of me at the cost of my passions and what made me happy. After reflecting on this particular experience, I challenged myself to take the blinders off to ignore what others thought of me.

 

FFA members, I tell you this story only to encourage you to not make the same mistakes I did. If you ever have the feeling of uncertainty- of not fitting in, or if you’re unsure of whether the path you’re paving for yourself is the right one, I am here to reassure you that it is. Don’t rob or cheat yourself just because you’re worried about what others think of you because of your passions. Always remember that YOU are the one to choose your path, YOU are the only one who gets the benefits from the path you pave, and YOU are the one who is incredibly capable of so much. Missouri FFA, I urge you to own the path you pave, and be fearless in the path you choose. I promise you that you will have no regrets.  

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Audrey Jung, VP
Sep 02 2022

Set The World On Fire

College. That time in your life when you get your first real sense of freedom. For me, I had been dreaming of experiencing something other than my small town since my freshman year of high school. Four years later, and it was happening. I was buying dorm decorations, packing up boxes, saying bye to my family and friends, and leaving everything that I knew. My family and I drove into my dorm’s driveway the weekend before school started, and from the time I stepped out of the car to the time my parents left my dorm, the energy and excitement that was pumping through my body was one that I have rarely felt in my lifetime. This had been what I dreamed of from the day I turned 15-years-old. Several hours later my dorm was finished and it was my own little piece of paradise in this newfound concrete jungle that I would now call home.

 

 With adrenaline still pumping through me I eagerly hugged my parents as they walked out the door, and I began campus life. I went to all of the welcome week activities that I could. Most of these activities were focused on getting to know our classmates, our campus, and our school. One of the events that I went to was called the Rally in the Valley. At this event Missouri State University students all run onto the football field and spend the evening playing ice breakers and getting to know each other. During one round I was paired up with a boy and given the question, “What was your favorite memory from high school?” The boy started immediately talking about a weekend trip he took with a few friends where he got to appreciate their time in high school and soak up as much time as they had before they all left for college. He answered with a smile on his face and a sparkle in his eyes that showed me how happy he was remembering all of the fun times he shared with his friends.

 

Then it became my turn to answer the question, and I went blank. Sure I had a ton of fun in high school and I enjoyed every second of it, but I never really absorbed any key moments because I was never living in the moment. I was always so worried about what was next for me that I never took the time to appreciate the people or experiences that high school had given me. 

 

Leaving that football field and walking back to my dorm I took the time to stop by my mailbox and found a welcome gift from my parents. Eager to see what was waiting for me in my package I quickly tore through the snacks and candy to find the letter my mom had written to me. She wrote, “I can’t tell you how proud we are of you! Go set the world on fire! Love you to the moon and back, your proud papa and mama bear!” As I stood in the lobby of my floor surrounded by the people I had just met days earlier, I took the time to live in the moment. I knew that these people were the ones who I would want to remember and that this time with them was limited and a gift I would never be given again. I had found the people that would help me set the world on fire.

 

FFA members, as you finish your high school years never forget to live in the moment. Each day is a gift and should be treasured. Appreciate your peers sitting next to you in class, the staff that makes you feel special, and the precious time we are all given. For each and every one of you to set this world on fire and make it a place that each and every one of us are proud to call home, we must truly live in the moment and take nothing for granted.

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Allison Schneider, VP
Sep 02 2022

Breaking Comfort Zones

Rather than loading the trailer, I was loading my car to head toward the Missouri State Fair. This was the first time in nine years that I wouldn’t be exhibiting my swine at the state fair. While sad for me, I was still ready and excited to attend the fair. I knew my two weeks at the fair were going to be vastly different from those of past years. My schedule consisted of working the FFA building, goat, sheep and cattle shows rather than swine, speaking engagements, pictures, and a whole day at food insecurity. When I saw my schedule, I was a little taken back because I was hoping for free time to spend in the swine barn with my show family. Nonetheless, I knew I needed to put my best foot forward for Missouri FFA, I’m so glad I did.

 

While attending a host of events at the state fair, I met a whole new group of people that were amazing. I got to experience different parts of agriculture that are fascinating. I learned more than I ever dreamt I would. These types of situations come up in our everyday lives all the time; do we stay in our comfort zone, or do we reach out and learn something new? Do we stay set in our ways or do we learn from someone or something else? As we all adventure back to school this year, we will experience something unknown whether that be a new class, teacher, or even an entirely different  school. Know that while yes, this experience might be vastly different, it is all part of our growth. These are the memories, the experiences and knowledge that we pack in our minds no matter where our trip is going.

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Colton Roy, President
Aug 25 2022

Normalizing Weird

For most of us, from childhood we were told to blend into the world around us, but in reality we should let our differences define who we are. Growing up, others around me always had quirks or attributes that were different from my own that, to me, were “weird.” Over the last few years I came to the realization that being weird is normal, and it’s being normal that is truly weird. Like snowflakes, we are all different in our own unique ways, developed over time as a result of our individual experiences. These events not only shape the minute details, but also have an impact on our beliefs, our values, our perceptions, and who we are as people.

 

When I was younger, I often had preconceived notions of others based off of the way that they presented themselves; if their behavior or views differed from my own, I would almost automatically devalue the conversation. Luckily, over time I have grown to understand the value of others’ beliefs and have started appreciating alternative ways of thinking. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the State Officer Summit in Washington D.C. With nearly 300 officers from around the country in attendance, I had expected there to be an array of diverse but accepting individuals; however, during one of the small group sessions I was quickly proven wrong. When asked to share our opinion on an array of corporations and organizations, the group was quick to label entities like the American Humane Society and PETA as “wrong,” “stupid,” and “ignorant.” Upon receiving the opportunity, I reminded the group that the individuals who supported and ran these organizations, like us, believe passionately in what they are advocating for and that we do not hold the right to belittle their beliefs for the sole fact that our experiences differed from theirs. We constantly find ourselves in similar situations, where others viewpoints aren’t aligned with our own, and it is important to realize that just because we don’t hold the belief, it isn’t inherently wrong.

 

Each and every day we interact with countless individuals that are different from us. As we have those interactions and live out our lives it is important to maintain harmony and accept others for who they are. After all, like us, the numerous experiences they have had have shaped their beliefs, which in turn determines how they view the world. 

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Kate Rogers, VP
Aug 14 2022

​​A Winning Mindset

When my alarm went off at 5 a.m., the day’s possibilities filled my head. The last county fair of the show season was set to begin in a few hours, and I could not wait! I had spent the previous days preparing my show pigs for this very event. The animals were washed, my truck and trailer ready, and the supplies gathered. It did not take long for my dad and I to load our hogs into the trailer, locate last minute supplies, and be ready to start the 45 minute drive to the fairgrounds. However, my hope and excitement quickly faded when I turned the key to the truck and realized we would not be going anywhere soon because it would not start. I knew that we had to find a way to get the truck running quickly if I wanted to attend the show. 

I did not want to miss out! After all, I had spent countless hours preparing. I love the show environment — working with the animals, spending time with friends and family, and growing my knowledge of the industry. I was frustrated that my truck would not start when I should have been leaving. In those moments of frustration, it is easy to get upset and focus on the negatives. But we must remind ourselves that we all face challenges we have to overcome. We can let our challenges prevent us from growing, or we can use them to become stronger. 

Eventually, after working for a while, we finally got the truck running again. However, the rest of our struggles did not simply disappear because the truck engine is running. There are always challenges that we must overcome, but if we have a positive mindset, we will become stronger. Grow through struggles, enjoy the process, and count your blessings!

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Jason Holland, VP
Aug 14 2022

Authenticity is Key

As the summer winds to a close, I reflect back on all of the great experiences I had. I traveled around the state, had a lot of firsts, and met a lot of amazing members. FFA Camp was a big part of my summer, and one of the biggest experiences that stands out was an interaction that I had during week six. 

 

We had just finished up the seventh elective leadership session, and the other officers and I were standing around talking to campers. That is when I was approached by two members from the North Harrison Chapter, and the first thing that they said to me was, “I’m glad there is a fellow gamer on the officer team.”

 

This might seem a little out of place, but it was in reference to something that I mentioned during my “Me in a Box” I presented during the session. I talked about how much of a nerd I am when it comes to movies, games and music. This simple comment led to a 30 minute conversation allowing me to connect with both members, and it never would have happened if I had not mentioned my love of games. It never would have happened if I wasn’t being myself.

 

This interaction made something click in my mind, and I realized how important it is to be yourself no matter what. If I wouldn’t have been myself in that situation I never would have gotten to have that interaction and meet two amazing people. There are going to be times throughout your life where you feel out of place, like you don’t belong, and think that you should act differently to try and fit in. Let me be the first to tell you that is never the solution. You will always find more success whenever you are your authentic self. You also never know who you may connect with or impact. 

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Jul 13 2022

Be Excited About the Things You Love

“The sooner you be you, the sooner the people looking for you will find you.” 

 

I stumbled across this quote by an unknown author while scrolling through Pinterest. I sure wish I had realized this sooner! 

 

I have always felt like a bit of an oddball. Starting in about 4th grade, I began to develop hobbies and interests that my friends found super weird. My brother and I watched the Kansas City Royals every night. I had never cared much for sports, but I loved hanging out with my brother and my dad and learning about baseball. Pretty soon, I memorized all the players by name and number. Then I started keeping track of batting averages, RBIs, and home runs. I was ecstatic when my family got to watch a Royals game in person once or twice a year. A few of my friends liked the Royals, but I was a little disappointed that no one at school followed them quite as closely as my brother and I did. 

 

In 5th grade, I really liked Star Wars. I watched the entire series several times. I read books about Star Wars, built the Millennium Falcon out of Legos, learned about George Lucas and the actors, and even dressed up as Padme Amidala for Halloween. Circa 7th grade, I got into a few really good book series. I could ramble for hours about Percy Jackson, Divergent, Harry Potter, or The Chronicles of Narnia. In 9th grade, I loved Broadway musicals like Newsies, Les Miserables, and Hamilton. To this day, I will completely nerd out over Marvel, Taylor Swift, Wordle, marching band, or whatever book I’m reading at the moment. 

 

Are you starting to notice a trend? 

 

Now that I’ve completely exposed myself about these super nerdy obsessions I’ve had, let me explain why these random interests have been a formative part of my life. 

 

At my small high school, there are only 14 students in my entire class! In such a small pool of people, I have often felt isolated in the things I love. This has caused me to suppress my enthusiasm and curate my personality to fit in with other kids my age. However, as I grew up and met people through FFA, I became more comfortable with the things that make me unique. I realized that even silly things like Star Wars and Hamilton can help me build connections with people who think like me. Although I was teased for being a “book nerd” in middle school, I now see how being an avid reader has developed my imagination and helped me in my written communication skills. All of my quirks make me special and human. I want to encourage you to be 100% yourself. Explore things that truly interest you and don’t be afraid to share your enthusiasm! Be excited about the things you love, because it will lead you to amazing friendships, exciting opportunities, and a strong sense of self.

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Emily Nelson, VP
Jul 13 2022

Look Beyond Your Differences

I found my family in FFA, but I still felt like the odd one out at times. Growing up, I was a city kid and didn’t know if I belonged in a rural dominated community. I loved all things agriculture and wanted to be really involved in FFA, so I applied to HYMAX Academy. I spent a lot of time and energy on my application, but unfortunately I was not selected as one of the 100 members that would attend.

 

I let my doubts get the best of me and didn’t grow from that experience. I started to realize how different I was from everybody else in FFA. I didn’t grow up on a farm. I couldn’t tell you more than a few breeds of cattle, and I didn’t know how to drive a tractor. These were not overly important things, but I felt like I was the only one who didn’t know them. I started to let my differences define me, and over the next few years I didn’t even apply to MAbA or HYPE. I felt like my differences made it so that I wouldn’t belong.

 

However, this year I got to attend HYMAX Academy, and I realized that our differences don’t make us outsiders, they make us unique. I belonged at HYMAX because I am passionate about learning and advocating for agriculture. It was my passion that connected me with the other HYMAX participants. Throughout the academy, I learned about several unique supervised agricultural experiences (SAE). Just because they were different, didn’t make them any less important. Differences actually help make us stronger as an organization.

 

Sometimes we go through life and set ourselves apart by looking at our differences. I let my differences define me, and didn’t even afford myself the chance to try new experiences such as HYPE. I let my differences hold me back. Learn from my mistakes and change your perspective. I challenge you to think differently. Find what connects you to others. We can all make the conscious decision to look beyond our differences and know that we belong as our true authentic selves.

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