While high school and FFA are quite a few years in my rearview mirror, I often refer to the things I learned from my FFA advisor.
During high school, we did officer retreats during the summer with two other chapters. It was an awesome time to spend time as a newly elected officer team, but also it was a chance to meet the officers from a couple of other schools in our district. The advisors who came along with us didn’t have to take those two days of their summers, but they did and I’m so grateful for that. All that to say, while we technically had only one advisor at our school, it often felt like we had several at contests. While we were competing with their students, those other schools’ advisors were often cheering us on too.
It’s hard to say everything that FFA advisors do to positively impact our lives, but here is a countdown of the top 10 things that stand out about them — lessons and all — during my time in FFA:
- 10. So often, you’ll find your advisors in the hospitality room eating donuts at contest and events. They never pass up free food and you shouldn’t either.
- 9. Drive with the flow of traffic. Get in the middle; car in front, car in back, and drive with the flow.
- 8. FFA advisors will and do talk to everyone. They may or may not know them, but they will talk to them. They’re basically your second parents and take the job of embarrassing you seriously.
- 7. If you work hard, learn the materials, and try, then you can do very well in competitions. Those competition skills also carry over to real life applications.
- 6. Technology and the ag teachers I know, don’t go well together. They can teach about it and find someone for you to talk to, but expecting them to do things in the technology space isn’t their favorite.
- 5. Advisors are over-worked, under appreciated, and under paid. Very few other teachers, sponsors, or coaches put in the time and effort that FFA advisors do. They really are a breed all their own.
- 4. They will force you to do contests that you don’t want to do. You may very well cry giving your first set of reasons for horse judging, but you will do it. And you will learn and you will grow — and the next time will go better. They want to push you while you’re in a safe environment so when you’re in the world and not in a safe place, you’ll be strong and confident already.
- 3. Being your advisor and coach doesn’t stop when you graduate from their program. They follow you and what you are up to. They are still available if you have questions or just need someone to talk to.
- 2. If you ask, they will bend over backwards to make things happen. They go above and beyond when it comes to their members.
- 1. Life is a game, and it can be game over any time.
FFA advisors are special people. They give up nights, weekends, and summers to pour effort into their members. They stay up to date on all things agriculture, so they can serve their members’ interests. They care about the person in the blue corduroy, whether it’s their student or not.
The advisors I know are the biggest cheerleaders I have ever met. They are the most philosophical group of people that truly want their kids to succeed. They put confidence and hope into the kid who doesn’t do well in other areas of school. They show them the real life application and why it’s important. They look for ways to make it relatable to everyone. They listen. They guide. They help you on your path. They truly are superheroes.
Kelsey Pagel is a Kansas farmer. She grew up on a cow/calf and row crop operation and married into another. Kelsey and her Forever (Matt) farm and ranch with his family where they are living their dream and loving most of the moments.