5 ways FFA impacted me

For anyone and everyone wondering about what FFA is, you’ve come to the right place. The National FFA Organization (formerly Future Farmers of America) is very, very near to my heart. For many reasons. Today I wanted to tell you 5 ways it has impacted my life.
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First of all, what is FFA?

FFA is a national organization that emphasizes the development of “premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education” (ffa.org). This is facilitated through the three circle model. Instruction encompasses the agricultural education component. FFA helps foster leadership by giving students the opportunity to learn to work with a team of peers to meet a common goal through officer  activities and judging (CDE/Career Development Events) through service and competition. There are twenty four CDE’s to help prepare students for a career in the agricultural sector. The SAE portion (supervised agricultural experience) gives students an opportunity to learn about the agriculture industry through working in the industry (placement),  as an entrepreneur, research and experimentation or as something exploratory. Membership is booming at 610,240 currently.
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three circle model

How did it impact me?

1. It made me more independant

FFA has given me the opportunity to travel far and wide. Not only did I travel all across New Mexico for four years in high school on judging teams to compete in CDE events, but I also got to see big cities. I got to travel to new places that for me seemed universes away. Through FFA I have traveled to Truth or Consequences, Carrizozo, Roswell, Quemado, Portales, Deming, Silver City, Weed and Albuquerque, New Mexico. I’ve traveled to/through Texas, Indiana, Oklahoma, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Colorado to attend FFA Conventions (on  a national and state level), judging competitions for horse and judging clinics for livestock. I would have never traveled if FFA had not given me the opportunity too. I’m more of a home body, but the experiences I got to have were truly unique. Traveling so often made me independent and punctual because I knew I was responsible for myself the entire time spent on the road. If that meant packing my bag filled with snacks and a clip board on a short judging trip or making sure I had medications and plenty of layers for longer ones I made sure that I had it done. Even if I was up until the wee hours of the morning you can bet I’d be on time between four and six to depart.
view from St. Louis arch
view from St. Louis arch
downtown Indianapolis for Nat'l Convention
downtown Indianapolis for Nat’l Convention

2. It drove me to be competitive

My FFA program was very focused upon competing in judging (career development events). I had a competitive edge. Just like an athlete, there was a lot of preparation before competing. Performing Saturday morning was determined by how you prepared five days prior. For those who have never judged I understand it’s difficult to realize the commitment to excellence that was demonstrated to us by our coaches every practice, and that we vigorously pursued. It also taught me how to set goals. Each weekend we competed in CDE’s we were evaluated and a points system was what determined which students made it to the state contest after qualifying in your district. Practice makes perfect, and I can’t tell you how much time I dedicated to trying to be successful. FFA gave me the passion to pursue my personal best in trying to make it to compete at a state level. This is an important quality in any workplace. Throughout my high school career I competed in the horse, livestock and veterinary technician CDE’s. Yes I was one of the crazies chomping at the bit for judging card to come up to see how I performed and how our team did.
vet tech team 2013 prepping for state contest
This work ethic extended to my schoolwork as well.
vet tech team 2013
vet tech team 2013
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3. It pushed me to be a positive role model

I had the privilege of being an FFA officer in my local chapter all four years of high school. I’m better for it. In all honesty it probably kept me out of a lot of trouble. I didn’t drink in high school, I still don’t drink. I didn’t do anything promiscuous, I certainly didn’t do drugs of any kind. I still don’t  do any of that either. I’m kind of boring in that regard. Anyhow, anytime I even considered being a dumb high school student, I thought about how my peers would react. I thought about how my actions might impact theirs. I thought that if I wasn’t a positive role model that I would no longer be a good leader, that I wasn’t worthy of the privilege of being looked up to. I know some of you might think “how silly, man oh my does she have a complex” but I knew the values my organization stood for and I didn’t want to disgrace it by a less than intelligent decision. I had the privilege of wearing a blue corduroy jacket representing exceptional morals and I better have lived up to that every day. I’m not saying I didn’t make mistakes. I am saying I tried awful hard.
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4. It showed me family isn’t just a genetic thing

For any and every FFA member out there, I’m sure you’ll agree with me. When I was a member at the high school level I spent more time with my advisors than at home. My agriculture teachers were like second parents. I never even thought that was possible because lets face it – my parents are AWESOME. But yeah, it did. The fact that my advisors were there to support me not only emotionally but to push me to grow more and to certainly introduce a little humor into every situation as well as sharing their wealth of knowledge made FFA a great experience for me. The other members, they were fantastic. The amount of hours you spend with them creates relationships that last a lifetime. It also gave me the opportunity to create a family that extended past my chapter, even if it is part of a rival high school (still love you all even if you go to Mayfield:)
Mr. Howard, one of my ag. teachers
Mr. Howard, one of my ag. teachers
Mayfield ag. olympics
Mayfield ag. olympics
Camp Lone Tree
Camp Lone Tree

5. It gave my life direction

FFA gave me something to wake up every day with a passion to do. It helped me decide what I wanted to do with my life and certainly gave me information about the agriculture industry I wouldn’t have otherwise. Though I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I graduated as someone reminded me recently God has everything figured out. I came to New Mexico State University with the intention of minoring in AXED because of how FFA impacted my life throughout high school. I wanted to do the same thing my agriculture teachers did for me: to make a difference. In the end, my love for FFA was what propelled me after a semester to major in agricultural communications and it’s one of the best decisions I have ever made.

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How has FFA impacted your life?

Thank you so much for reading!!!

-Lauren

2 Comments

  • Reply Emily Grace January 30, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    My high school didn’t have FFA and I probably wouldn’t have been in it anyhow simply because ag was nowhere on my radar until I met my husband. That said, I really love hearing about it and think it’s a great organization. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply Lauren Schlothauer January 30, 2015 at 4:41 pm

      Emily I’m very blessed we had FFA at my high-school:)! It was such a great experience. Thank you so much for reading. I look forward to keeping up with you and your stories:)

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