In the Spring of 2004, I was signing up for high school classes with my counselor. The normal classes were all there – geometry, English, Spanish, theater. When it came time to pick a science class, I told my counselor I wanted to take ag biology – I had heard being in an ag science class was a requirement to be in FFA, and I wanted to raise market animals for the county fair like I did in 4-H. My counselor proceeded to tell me that if I wanted to go to college, I should take regular biology. Not even knowing what I was fighting for, I told her I would get into college just fine in four years, and insisted on taking the ag science class. And thank God I did.
Getting myself involved in the National FFA Organization was the best decision I have made thus far in my life. It wasn’t just biology from an agricultural standpoint and raising calves for fair. Suddenly, I found myself in an organization dedicated at every level to my success in school and life. I had a team of ag teachers who dedicated their lives to helping students like me and thousands of others reach their full potential in whatever field we chose.
My freshman year, my ag biology teacher encouraged me to sign-up for the California State FFA Conference, which was a pivotal moment for me. Attending that conference truly opened my eyes to all the opportunities FFA could provide and how far the organization could take me. The next four years found me competing in public speaking contests at various levels, participating in career development events across the state, traveling across the country to meet with other FFA members and pushing myself to run for leadership positions, all of which helped me develop those crucial professional skills I use every day in my career.
Being in FFA helped me find my passion – sharing agriculture’s story with others. Despite what my high school counselor told me as a 14-year-old, I knew I was always going to go to college, but FFA helped me personally figure out what I would do in life. In fact, my journey to college would have been much more difficult without ag education – my FFA participation qualified me for scholarships that basically paid for my first year of college. It still makes me upset when I think about my counselor discouraging me from taking ag biology, and wonder how many students she did talk out of it, denying them the opportunity to get involved in such a positive organization.
If I had not participated in FFA, I have no idea where life would have taken me. I can’t imagine my time in high school without FFA, and can’t imagine what would happen if the Ag Incentive Grant is cut from the California state budget, threatening ag education programs throughout the state. FFA helps students find their passion and potential, from agricultural communications to welding. I constantly thank the National FFA Organization and my team of high school ag teachers for getting me to where I am today. I am one of millions of students the organization will affect over its time, but it have the same positive effect on every single one of us. So thank you, FFA. I owe you. Happy FFA Week!