“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” As FFA members gather in Louisville, Kentucky for the 88th National FFA Convention, our organization continues to move forward. With every step, we grow stronger. Over 629,000 students unite under the blue corduroy jacket, a feat which has never been accomplished before. Every one of these students is setting himself or herself apart from others in life by gaining unique, valuable skills with every step made through FFA. In 1928 this organization was far from what it is today. Leaps, bounds, and great strides have been made in this organization, but forming this powerhouse started out with a single step.
Last week, I found myself in Kansas City, Missouri. Knowing that we were in the city where FFA’s journey began, my meats judging teammates and I began wandering around the beautiful downtown landscape looking for where FFA was founded, Hotel Baltimore. Within minutes, we found ourselves standing at the corner of 11th and Baltimore, the famed site of FFA’s inception.
What we found, or didn’t find, disappointed us. We saw a parking lot. We refused to believe that this was where 88 years of history began. We walked up and down Baltimore Street, searching for the place where 33 students gathered for the very first National Convention. Finally, after a chat with a very informative security guard at the public library, we accepted the fact that the hotel had been demolished.
After making this realization, we made our way back to the vacant parking lot at the corner of 11th and Baltimore. We stood on the parking lot and stared at the street signs, imagining what that street corner looked like on that monumental day; 11th and Baltimore: where dreams of an organization that would allow farm boys to develop confidence and pride in their industry became a reality.
I found myself imagining what my life would look like if there had been no history made on this street corner. Though it was difficult, I could imagine my closet with no blue corduroy jackets. I could imagine my shelf with no plaques. I could imagine myself at college instead of serving as a state officer. But when I tried to imagine my life without the people FFA has introduced me to, I simply couldn’t.
As I was standing with two of my best friends from high school, I reminisced about the mini-bus rides, running to get a pop before practice, and the conversations we had in the parking lot of our high school’s Ag building. We went through good times and bad times together. The memories we made, and the lessons that we learned, shaped me into the person that I am today.Walter Newman had a dream. He brought the FFA founding fathers together at the corner of 11th and Baltimore to put that dream into motion. We have made some tremendous strides since that day, but it all began with the courage to take that single step. We all have dreams that might seem impossible to accomplish. But dreams are a journey, and every journey begins with a single step. Follow your dreams. Take that step. You never know; eighty-eight years from now, someone might be thankful for the single step you took today.
2015-2016 Indiana FFA State Southern Region Vice President