Four Years Too Fast
Following in the footsteps of her dad and older brother, Janet Adkison hit the ground running the moment she put on her first blue corduroy jacket. Having grown up on a beef cattle farm in Houston, Missouri, Adkison had a deeply rooted passion for agriculture she was ready to expand upon in FFA.
“I tried to be involved in as much as I could in FFA,” she said. “I have to attribute that to my family because they encouraged me and also helped me to do so.”
Her involvement led to many leadership roles, including serving as an officer on both the chapter and state levels. But before she could take off in the organization, Adkison was first tasked with memorizing what most greenhand members do: the FFA Creed. Those five paragraphs taught Adkison more than she could have ever anticipated.
“There were two of us in my chapter who wanted to compete in the Creed,” she says. “After they brought in three judges to decide between us, nobody could decide. So, they decided to flip a coin, and I ended up losing that coin toss. That day I learned not to depend on luck for something you really want to do.”
In addition to this lesson learned, the experience also opened many doors that would lead to Adkison’s future involvement in FFA and, eventually, her professional career.
“Having the Creed under my belt led me to feel comfortable and opened the door for me to participate in public speaking,” she explains. “Freshman year, I participated in the Farm Bureau public speaking contest and ended up getting third at state. That really warmed me up to public speaking, and I used those skills in judging contests like livestock and dairy judging. I still call on those skills in my career now.”
In addition to her speaking ability, Adkison also learned a great deal of agricultural content she calls upon today.
“The agricultural lessons serve me well day in and day out in my career path,” she says.
Starting her college career as an animal science major at Missouri State University, Adkison says it wasn’t long before she realized that path wasn’t for her.
“I had organic chemistry, and organic chemistry and I were not made to be together,” she says with a laugh. “So, that was a quick lesson that animal science and pre-vet were not for me. The agricultural communications program at MSU was still pretty new. It was still building up at that time, but I jumped on board and ended up graduating with my degree in ag communications.”
Today, Adkison is a news anchor and reporter for RFD-TV in Nashville, Tennessee. She says her time in FFA helped guide her toward this career.
“FFA led me to my career path,” Adkison says. “From participating in agricultural activities to public speaking to people I interacted with, it opened my eyes to the opportunities that were available.”
She works behind the anchor desk and in the field reporting on anything relating to agriculture or rural areas, which allows her to call upon the ag knowledge she gained in FFA.
“Those outside of agriculture think it’s a pretty narrow window,” she says. “But, when you talk about rural and you talk about agriculture, the window is actually wide open. Lessons on agriculture gained from participating in livestock and dairy judging allow me to better understand those industries.”
In addition to skills and agricultural content, Adkison says FFA also gave her connections in the industry.
“Honestly, a lot of people I met in FFA I still know to this day,” she says. “I got my foot in the door of my first two jobs through Missouri FFA connections.”
Thinking back on her years in FFA as a high schooler, Adkison remembers how fast the time went by.
“Our tendencies are to test the waters slowly, but you only get four years to test the waters in high school,” she says. It’s amazing how fast that four years goes by.”
Her advice is to jump in feet first to take advantage of every opportunity possible.
“There are so many avenues you can test along the way,” Adkison says. “Don’t be afraid to test them all. It’s even so much more now than when I was in high school. FFA is so broad now that you can truly try your hand at so many different careers along the way. I’m a little jealous of the members coming through it now.”
Principles learned in FFA can also be of benefit in the future.
“Take the work ethic you learn when you’re in FFA, whether it’s in serving the community or working on your own SAE project, and apply it in the future,” Adkison says. “And remember you may not always be the smartest person in the room or the most eloquent speaker, but you can certainly outwork a lot of people. Don’t be afraid to do so.”
—By Brandelyn Martin Twellman