My accomplishments would be few and far between if it weren’t for those responsible for my upbringing. Most of my values and virtues come from my family; hard-work from my step-father, compassion and responsibility from my grandparents, and love from my mother. While there are many values I developed from them, I continue to build my ideals. I thank my friends for teaching me loyalty, my teachers for persistency, and strangers for humbleness. Unfortunately, I’m not taking this opportunity to personally thank all of you like I should, that’s not the educational experience I want to share at this time. This is a time to reflect on how we all got wrapped up in this beautiful whirlwind.
My feet didn’t begin running through the fields of corn next to my grandparent’s house; they were sunk in the clay of the pond. I knew that we had a tractor in the barn, but I was more worried about getting my fishing pole out and finally hooking some of the bass in the three-quarter acre pond. The world was barely more than the end of the seemingly endless driveway, and boy did I take it for granted. The time spent worriless on the dock or watching the creek trickle away to meet with the St. Mary’s will never be brought back, but those are vivid memories that remind me of why I keep pushing on when life gets rough.
As time moved on and I moved away from that little bubble of paradise, I learned the joys and discomforts of agricultural life on my step-family’s farm. I acquired my first hogs for the county fair and started riding in the tractors with the guys. Now, these tractors were a little bit bigger than the International 1046 grandpa would let me ride with him. These were used for what is now over 3500 acres of grain farming. I took these experiences for granted as well, pursuing time to waste rather than learn more about being a helpful farmhand. However, as I moved through my years of school to finally make it to high school, I made the best decision I’ve probably ever made by joining the local FFA chapter.
Joining the chapter alone is not the highlight, nor are the opportunities that I have taken because of it. The true joy was meeting all of these amazing people I could call my friends. My friends pushed me along to become a better version of me. I was working hard towards my success, but the beginnings as a regular member were where I gained a lot of my perception of FFA. I learned it truly is what you make of it. I decided I could make it be an integral part of my life by becoming a State Officer.
Through two months of the job, I’ve met a wide diversity of people: the public, members, sponsors, and government officials. Telling them my story of FFA and how it’s amazing is important to me, but there were times where I felt pressured. Fortunately, I was able to return home and compete at my 4-H county fair. The thing about my time with 4-H is that’s how I got involved with FFA in the first place. I was trying to be a club officer, and someone confused those intentions with becoming an FFA officer, so they told me to get involved with my chapter. Going back to my fair, I remembered that there was life beyond my work with the FFA. What really brought reality back to me was the conversations I had with those who were curious about what I was doing nowadays. They ended my final day at the fair with the words “stay humble; never forget your roots.” To keep with this, I remember the feeling of pond clay between my toes, looking at the water and looking up to the blue sky.
What’s your clay that keeps you grounded? Whatever it is, use that memory to hold you steadfast to your values.
Never forget your roots,
Indiana FFA State Sentinel