Grow leaders, build communities and strengthen agriculture. This set of words, the FFA Vision Statement, has been shared countless times this year. During chapter visits, students across the state learned what it means to grow as leaders, build their communities and strengthen agriculture. Growing leaders is self-explanatory, strengthening agriculture makes sense, but building communities has always been a point that is a little harder to explain. Sure, FFA members complete many community service projects, but the power of building our communities is deeper than that.
The first thing that enters my mind when I think about what the word community means is simply where I live. My mind drifts to my next door neighbors and those who attend my school. As my mind continued pondering the word community, like most people my age, I pulled out my phone and googled it. Google defines a community as, “a group of people living in the same place,” but then proceeded to say, “or having a particular characteristic in common.” The second part explains a lot about the community that exists within FFA.
If you’ve been to National FFA Convention or even District FFA Leadership Contests, you know the feeling of pride when you’re surrounded by blue corduroy jackets. We look to the left and see a jacket from California, look to our right and see a jacket from Kansas, and look down and see our name perfectly stitched on a jacket next to an emblem that unites us into one community. A community 649,355 strong. A community reaching from the state of Alaska to the Virgin Islands and from the state of Maine to Hawaii. A community that accepts any person from any background and allows them to grow as a leader, build their local communities and strengthen agriculture in whatever career they may choose. A community that allows the shy freshman to become a confident senior and the confident senior to have a successful future.
The second definition given of community was, “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests and goals.” As I read this definition and related it to FFA, I got chills because that is exactly how I feel each time I zip up the blue corduroy jacket. That is why our organization is so powerful. Times in FFA are times in fellowship with those who share interests, attitudes and goals.
This was proven true this weekend as my teammates and I attended the Scottsburg FFA Annual Ag Day Breakfast. Saying it was hard for my teammates and I to be alive, awake, alert or enthusiastic for our 4:30 AM leave time was an understatement, but somehow 1,500 people braved the same early morning to attend the breakfast. That is the power of community.
Build your community. Whether that means improving where you live, or a group of people you associate with, let’s embrace the power of community. The power of community depends on the power within us. That means we do not have to hold a title to build our community or even live in the same place. It means we “share common attitudes, interests and goals.”
Thankful to be a member of the FFA community,
2016-2017 Indiana FFA State Reporter