By Lauren S.
I believe in the future of agriculture with a faith born not of words, but of deeds.
Growing up on a hog farm, I learned the value of hard work at a young age. Some of my earliest memories include feeding hogs, riding in the combine with my grandpa, showing livestock and participating in our local 4-H club. While I discovered my love for agriculture in small-town Southern Illinois, I didn’t truly understand how much my passion could impact the industry until I joined FFA.
I’ll never forget when my dad told me I had to join. While I hesitantly followed his direction, I was quick to let him know I would not participate in the freshman creed speaking contest. Like a typical teenager, I had my own ideas. Instead of reciting the creed, I chose to write my own speech about biotechnology in the swine industry. I made it to state semi-finals and left the stage in tears after stumbling over my note cards.
This was my first real experience with failure. While the embarrassment seemed overwhelming at the time, it was a good life lesson that made me stronger. I recall a fellow FFA member reassuring me afterward with a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” I took these words to heart, set goals, focused and ended my FFA career standing in front of thousands of FFA members and guests as I confidently ran for state office.
More than 10 years later, I am now a wife, a mother of two, and employee for one of agriculture’s leading companies. As a young girl, I dreamed of making a difference in agriculture, and every day I am blessed with the opportunity to do just that–whether it’s gardening with my kids, raising a bottle calf on our small family farm or working with growers and key stakeholders daily to build a brighter future in agriculture. Every day, I use skills that I gained in my experience with FFA.
There was a tremendous sense of pride that came with that blue corduroy jacket. Through workshops, leadership camp and ag sales competitions, this young, curious small-town girl learned no dream was unachievable. The first step in being a leader is believing in yourself, and there is nothing more powerful than a strong team with a common purpose. I am so grateful for my experience with FFA and the lessons I have learned along the way.
I didn’t understand why my dad wanted me to participate in the creed speaking contest, but after reflecting back on the verses, I am hopeful that my kids will also participate in this great organization and do their part in this inspiring task. This week, as we look forward to national FFA convention, it’s exciting to think about how many young leaders will learn just how bright the future of agriculture is and the world of opportunity that is yet to come.
The 2013 National FFA Convention will be held on October 30 through November 2 in Louisville, KY.