Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Raised in a Barn or in Downtown Indy...FFA has a place for you!

An idiom, as defined by Oxford Dictionaries, is “a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from the individual words. Some of the most popular expressions include “a blessing in disguise”, “actions speak louder than words”, “a herd of elephants”, and, my favorite, “raised in a barn”.  As I was growing up, I often got asked “Were you raised in a barn?” as I left the front door to our house open, didn’t clean up my soda cans from across the living room, or tracked mud in from the barn.  When I was a child, this was THE worst scolding I could receive; it made me feel like I was just like one of the heifers in the barn whom I had to tend to every day to feed, water, and clean up after. 

However, as I have grown older, I have learned to appreciate the phrase. You see, nowadays, people act like being raised in a barn is a bad thing. From the day I was brought home from the hospital all the way up until four months ago when I moved into the State Officer House, the barn was the place where I learned the most important lessons in life. I discovered that hard work has never killed anyone and is the only way to get where you want to be. I learned about love and compassion as I watched cows care for newborn calves. I gained an understanding that being raised in a barn is indeed NOT a bad thing at all; but, more importantly, that neither is being raised in the middle oftown or the suburbs of Indianapolis.

Four months ago, when moving into the State Officer House, one of the biggest things I was worried about was meshing seven very different backgrounds.  When we got elected, we became aware that only two of us come from production agriculture backgrounds, three from rural communities, and two from suburban areas. At first, I questioned how in the world it would be possible that such a diverse team could work well together to best serve Indiana FFA.  Four months later, our team’s variety is the thing I take the most pride in. If you were to ask me to describe my team, I would reply “The perfect example at what the National FFA Organization is.” It’s diverse.  It’s different.  It’s a variety of backgrounds coming together for one common cause – service to others.  No, we weren’t all born in a barn or raised on a farm. And THAT’S exactly what I love. My team represents the diversity of the agricultural industry and shows that no matter what background you come from, you can still serve the organization.

Throughout the month of September, my team and I had the opportunity to travel the state to visit with many chapters and FFA members. Covering all twelve districts and over 40 chapters each, we had the opportunity to share our backgrounds, but, more importantly, learn about others’ as well.  In Indiana, we have just under 12,000 FFA members; nationally, membership has hit its peak at 649,355 students.  To me, this isn’t just a number.  To me, this represents 649,355 different experiences that have led to where each member is today.  The National FFA Organization welcomes diversity and includes everyone – no matter the race, ethnicity, gender, age, socioeconomic status, thoughts, or backgrounds.  At one time, the blue jacket represented future farmers.  But today, it represents those raised in barns as well as those who have never stepped foot onto a farm.  I am proud to be from such a diverse and inclusive organization…are you?

Proudly raised in a barn,
Chaela Minor
Indiana FFA State Secretary 

1 comment:

  1. I remember being asked that when I left a door open - it was something our parents always said. Years later, my friend moved into a renovated barn - such a beautiful home!