We have officially been living in the pandemic for over a year now. In that year, we have had to adjust and become used to the “uncertainty,” “new normal,” and “socially distancing” that the coronavirus brought along with it. We learned new skills, how to connect with others through different avenues, and most importantly, we learned a whole new meaning to patience — patience with others, patience with ourselves, and patience with things far out of our control.
Though the specter of a “fourth spike” looms over us amid rising coronavirus cases in some regions, most people continue to take precautions and reports say that 23 percent of the U.S. adult population has been vaccinated — so there’s a sense of getting back into the swing of things with spring in the air. However, I don’t think that this past year should be one that we quickly forget and move past. We have learned valuable lessons and had vital experiences throughout it all. The strength and resilience that it took to get through the past 12 months deserves an award.
In the beginning, the National FFA Organization, along with state organizations, had to quickly shift from in-person conventions to hosting them on an online platform. Leave it to FFA and its members to be able to adapt and make the most of any given situation.
During this time, FFA student leaders also had to shift their perspectives and how they reached out to fellow members. For example, Blake Mills, the state president for the Texas FFA Association said, “Having the unique opportunity to travel to various schools across the state this year has allowed me to gain so many perspectives in relation to FFA. Although Texas FFA chapters have endured many obstacles and challenges in the past year because of the pandemic, members and advisors have been resilient nonetheless. Each chapter has been affected differently, but every chapter has approached the situation with the same passion and determination to promote FFA’s longstanding tradition of premier leadership, personal growth, and career success.”
Mills continued, “The Texas FFA Association has strived to provide students with safe in-person and virtual leadership opportunities to encourage students to get involved in FFA and their local communities. If it were not for agricultural education, none of this would be possible. There is no more important time than ever to spread the word of agricultural education, so we, Texas Team Ag Ed, can continue to grow the future of the next generation of agriculturists. As the year goes on, we look forward to continuing to overcome the challenges that this year has to offer.”
In addition to resilience shown by the members, the pandemic also pushed the organization in a new direction — more inclusive. While conferences are open to all, it is not always financially possible for everyone to attend. With a virtual platform, more members were able to participate in state and national events this past year.
We also cannot forget about the FFA advisors who were able to make all of this possible during the unknown. FFA members were not the only ones to have to adjust their plans and ideas for the year.
Justin Mauss, Carthage Technical Center Agriculture Teacher and FFA Advisor said, “The pandemic taught me to be more flexible regarding FFA events and activities. We learned very quickly that the events that normally take a few days to plan could now take a week or better. We had to think of every scenario to keep students safe while still continuing the tradition of quality FFA activities and keeping members active.”
The past year has shown how the National FFA Organization was able to ensure everyone’s safety while also trying to provide the tradition and legacy it is known for. No matter what the future holds for FFA members and their organization, the pandemic has proven they will continue to prosper.