Jun 21 2023

Saying “Yes” Instead of “No”

Owen Neely

Missouri FFA, summertime is finally here! Across the state, hundreds of activities are gearing up as the weather gets warmer and the days get longer. From FFA camp to showing livestock at the county fair to working at improving our supervised agricultural experiences, Missouri FFA members are busier than ever. Although it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the hustle and bustle of summertime activities, it is more important than ever to be open to new experiences during this season of growth and revival. Saying ‘yes’ instead of ‘no’ can be intimidating, yet it is one of the most rewarding things we can do as we navigate our FFA careers.

One of my favorite Taylor Swift songs is “the 1” track one from her 2020 album Folklore. In the song’s second line, Swift says that she’s “been saying yes instead of no” as she looks to appreciate the beauty of life despite its numerous challenges. When I listened to this song for the first time in July 2020, the reasons for saying ‘no’ to new summer opportunities far outnumbered the reasons for saying “yes.” My parents had recently divorced, my siblings and I had been locked up at home for months, and my show cattle season had been cut short by the coronavirus pandemic. That same month, I was fortunate enough to receive an opportunity I could say ‘yes’ to. Although it was virtual, HYMAX Academy was starting up, and 100 freshmen across the state would have the opportunity to network with each other and learn about prominent agricultural issues. When I learned about the start date for HYMAX, I was hesitant to log onto the first Zoom call. I didn’t know a single person on the Excel sheet that the organizers had sent me, and I knew nothing about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (my group’s topic). At that moment, I had to say ‘yes’ to HYMAX, even though I was anxious about the opportunity.

The first few Zoom meetings with my small group were understandably difficult because of awkward introductions, rural internet problems, and hectic summertime schedules. Nevertheless, because I said ‘yes’ to participating in HYMAX, I became very close to the other members of my group, especially Hannah Rice, who is one of my closest friends to this day. I also got to learn about flood water control in Northwest Missouri, something that I had never personally experienced as a Southwest Missouri native, but could explain confidently after weeks of research. Lastly, saying ‘yes’ to HYMAX helped me connect with agricultural educators like Dr. Robin Horstmeier and Scott Stone, people who genuinely care about helping FFA members succeed.

As I learned with HYMAX, saying ‘yes’ for the first time, especially in an unfamiliar opportunity, can be intimidating, even scary. Nevertheless, it can be extraordinarily rewarding, as I learned when I logged on every week to meet with my small group. FFA members, I know that the summer months will bring many opportunities for you, both in and outside of FFA. My advice for you is simple: Don’t be afraid to say ‘yes’ instead of ‘no,’ even when it’s scary. It may very well impact your FFA career in ways that will last a lifetime.

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