To my FFA jacket,
There are so many things you have taught me over the years and lessons I learned while bearing your colors. Your emblem will forever be carried with me throughout my future endeavors in a career, just as you have been the past four years of my college experience. Learning about agriculture has allowed me to discover a passion of agvocating to pursue and teach the world the meaning behind the Future Farmers of America. You taught me to believe in the future of agriculture and to believe in myself. Without you, I never would have found my love for this industry and the pride I have for growing up wearing your colors and living up to the FFA creed.
You taught me the value of hard work and patience. Obtaining your Greenhand, State, and American degrees is no easy task and requires sincere dedication and passion for what you do. Not to mention adding more award applications for your SAEs (supervised agricultural experiences) and the countless competitions you partake in as an individual and team member. There are many ways to succeed as a member of FFA, but none of which come easy. My father dedicated the majority of his time as an FFA member toward being an officer and utilizing all his resources for farming to the point that he later became known as a Kansas Star Farmer. My sister has continued to work hard to obtain her American degree for the upcoming year with her background in harvesting wheat and cultivating fields. I used those years to focus on my personal skill sets and place in various competitions of interviewing and agronomy while spending months training my steers to lead with a halter and earn proficiency awards over the course of four years. Every degree, experience, and award I wore proudly under my name and office is a result of hours of strenuous hard work, patience, and lessons to last a lifetime.
You taught me how to give back. No matter if it was on a national, state, or local level, you taught me the importance of giving back to communities in need. You introduced me to the gratifying feeling of knowing I made a difference in feeding those who know the true definition of hunger. I wore you the day the woman hugged me as I helped her put a wreath on her husband’s grave on Veteran’s Day. I felt tears come to my eyes as I watched the joy and appreciation spread across her face for something I had done that was so simple, yet meant so much in the eyes of a woman who still grieved her lost love. I didn’t even complain the day in Indianapolis when I joined thousands of other blue and gold peers and had to wear a hairnet to package rice meals. I may never see the faces of the families receiving dinner for the first time in days, but I am proud to say I helped. Even if my two hours that day only fed a handful of families, I made a difference- because of you.
You taught me how to be a leader… and made sure I earned it. My freshmen year, I knew I wanted to run for an officer position. Of course, president is always the ultimate goal but you taught me patience, dedication, and hard work in the three years it took for me to earn the title. I started low on the officer totem pole as the sentinel my sophomore year, still proud to serve my chapter and care for the “many friends of the FFA” coming through the door. I gained respect from my peers and chapter as I grew as an individual and became the secretary the following year, and with a little hard work and passion for my chapter’s success, standing by the rising sun as president my senior year of high school. Earning an officer title taught me to respect the blue and gold and every member, advisor, chapter, and friend of the FFA. I gained the ability to lead my chapter to become a better representation of the emblem and uphold the traditions and qualities every FFA member should possess to the best of my ability.
Lastly, you taught me you never stop wearing the jacket. When I first graduated high school, I was saddened by the idea of my time as an FFA member coming to an end. However, it wasn’t long after I realized I still represented the blue and gold corduroy jacket each and every day. FFA is not just an organization you are involved with for a few years and then it ends; it’s a tradition of values passed down from generation to generation and skill sets and characteristics used each and every day. Yes, I only wore the the official dress for four years of my life… but then again so did my dad, yet, every year he helped my sisters and I prep our steers for the county show and taught us responsibility and financial stability with his help of our SAE’s of raising border collie puppies and renting and cultivating 160 acres of land… and the ever changing difficulties that came with it. This past summer I represented the blue and gold as I represented my summer internship employers at the Kansas state FFA banquet career fair in Manhattan, KS. I wore my jacket once more as I spoke as a former FFA member to current FFA members about their futures and careers after their time in the jacket came to an end. My jacket may be ever hanging in my closet, but I will never stop wearing my jacket.
And for all of that and more, I thank you.
Whitney Turek is a recent graduate of Oklahoma State University and a Kansas FFA alum. First published at Odyssey Online, this article was republished on AGDAILY with her permission.