It wasn’t long ago that I had seen a Facebook prompt asking for women in their thirties to give advice to the young women in their twenties. After seeing the great advice that the women had for their younger friends — things they wish they had known, things they had to learn the hard way, or just great reminders to practice self-love — I thought it would be good to see what advice FFA alumni had for current FFA members.
Remember your why. Abby Norred with the Yuma Catholic FFA Chapter in Arizona said, “Remember why you joined: because you loved it. Because you wanted to have fun. You don’t have to win all of the competitions, be recognized at national convention, be an officer every year, or even feel obligated to pursue a career in ag. Don’t stress yourself out and make yourself miserable trying to do everything all at once. Enjoy yourself, and make some memories.”
Never forget your contacts and always make a good first impression. “Over the years you will meet so many great people. When people give you their contact information, hold on to it and keep in contact with them. They want to help you! Throughout school and your career, having the right contacts will help you more than you can ever dream. Finally, never forget what FFA has done for you and when you can, give back. One of the most rewarding parts of my career today is giving my time to students in FFA. You may not physically wear that Blue Jacket but you will never take it off,” said Brittany Lloyd, a 2004 alumna from JF Webb FFA in Oxford, North Carolina.
Try, try again. Lesley Aucter, a 2018 graduate with the Beaver River FFA Chapter in New York said, “My advice would be to just try, even if you aren’t sure. There were so many things that I decided to try because no one, or very few people in my chapter, had done it before. I failed many times but I also got the chance to shine! Either way the things I was unsure of but did are the ones that I still tell stories about. And now other people in my chapter and friends are able to come to me for help on the things I’ve done.”
Winning isn’t everything. “The skills, memories, experiences, and friendships you gain through FFA far outweigh the ribbons and titles,” said Christina Bingham with the Max FFA Chapter in North Dakota.
Keep your mental health in mind. Hallie Wettstein, a 2019 alumna of the Hugoton FFA Chapter with the Kansas FFA Association thought her advice might be a little unpopular, but it is great advice. She said, “Do not be afraid to say no once in awhile. If you don’t have the time, or you do not feel you can put your all into something, don’t volunteer to do it. Managing stress is difficult but especially so when it involves pleasing other people. Advisors and other members will understand if you have to step away from something, don’t try to do everything and neglect your personal well-being!”
Buy in. Maddy Hutton from Owasso, Oklahoma and 2019 graduate, who also moved onto Collegiate FFA at OSU for Ag Ed said, “The way the curriculum and career/leadership development events are set up is to stimulate personal and professional growth. Find an emotional purpose and buy into the experience. Once you commit to 5 years of growth and consistent effort for yourself, not only will others follow your footsteps but also you’ll have the best 5 years of your life.”
It is okay to lose. Brandon Livingston, a 2016 alumnus with the Bushnell-Prairie City FFA said, “Learning how to lose was one of the most important lessons FFA taught me. FFA taught me how to lose, so that I might win in the future. Life is full of losses, but it’s how you handle those losses that determine if you’ll win the next time.”
Dream and achieve. Calvin Christensen, who graduated in 1974 from Dillon, Montana said, “Dare to do what you dare to dream. Don’t run for an office to be an officer, run for office to serve and commit as an accountable officer.”
The National FFA Organization constantly pushes their members to continue to adapt and learn through all the stages of their life. Members of all ages can use the advice from above — have fun, stay dedicated, and always know your worth.