Today, I had the chance to return to the Kentucky FFA State Convention as a contest judge. I always love going back to convention. I'm surrounded by national blue and corn gold corduroy jackets. I see wide-eyed youth, on fire for the FFA. I feel their nerves as they prepare to compete. I notice their excitement as they try to take in all that the convention has to offer. I know this because I was once a young FFA member experiencing my very own first state convention. First as a regular member, then as a team competitor, then as a prepared public speaker, next as a State Officer Candidate and finally, as a Kentucky FFA State Officer. To try to describe to you the impact the the National FFA Organization has had on my life would be impossible. There aren't enough words to properly express how much love I have for the FFA. Or what it did for me. Or how passionate I feel about youth getting involved in the FFA.
When I first came back to convention as a Past State Officer, I was overwhelmed with sadness. I was no longer allowed to sport my official dress down the hallways. I couldn't blend in with the members in my blue corduroy that became so familiar it almost felt like a second skin. Instead, I was in dress pants and a blouse...the official dress of a "has-been." I looked at the fresh faces of the new state officers and wanted to trade places with them. It was an emotion so strong, I physically hurt from missing the FFA.
After the next few trips back, it got easier to see the new batch of state officers. Instead of jealousy, I felt excitement for them. Glad they were getting to live out their moment and experience something few members get the chance to. Instead, I looked at my friends from the FFA...people that were members the same time I was...that were now the FFA advisors. The ones that got a front row seat every day to watch their students fall in love with agriculture. I began to feel a different kind of jealousy. One where I felt like my friends were getting to live out the ultimate dream job, while I just came to convention as an outsider--only to return back to whatever job that was waiting for me at home. I'd look at my friends and wonder if I'd made a terrible decision. I'd wonder if I, too, should be in their shoes and should have followed the path of an ag teacher.
Finally, I returned to convention again today. I waited for the pang of jealousy or the realization I hadn't made the right decisions to hit....but that feeling never came. Instead, I looked at my friends, leading their groups of students around, and just felt proud. I am so proud to know people that have truly found their calling in life. People that just KNEW they wanted to be ag teachers and are doing a fantastic job doing just that. When I look at my friends and hear them talk about their plans for their programs and their students, their excitement is contagious. I'm genuinely happy for them. They're living out their dream...it's just not one that was made for me. I know that I'll find my true calling one day (I hope, I hope...), but for now, I'm content coming back to convention in my current role: as a proud FFA Alum that's deeply, gratefully, humbly thankful for having the chance to learn so much from just a simple school organization. Thank you, Kentucky FFA.