Amazing Lessons FFA Has Taught Me
Annalise DeVries, Cambridge FFA
When I decided to go to Cambridge High School my freshman year and jump on the FFA bandwagon, I had no idea what I was signing up for. I thought FFA was just a way to bring an animal to the fair without having to do a 4-H record book(those things were the worst, am I right?). Little did I know that FFA would give me countless amazing opportunities including showing animals at fair, being a chapter and district officer, state leadership conferences, competing in amazing CDEs, and going to national convention two years in a row. As well as winning a trip to the American Institute of Floral Design symposium in Washington DC, and this coming February, the opportunity to attend the International Production and Processing Expo in Atlanta, Georgia to learn more about food science. And this is only a fraction of the incredible opportunities FFA has given me. But more importantly, FFA has taught me life lessons that you can’t get anywhere else.
FFA has taught me that being a leader is about serving the people around you; encouraging them and lifting them up. Leadership isn’t a rank or a huge position you are put in, I think it is a choice to see the position you are in as a chance to serve and inspire the people around you. Being a leader doesn’t mean that you never make mistakes. It means that when you make mistakes you acknowledge them, you learn from them, and you grow from them.
FFA has taught me how to be proactive. That when we have an awesome vision, it doesn’t just have to be something we sit back and dream about. We have the power to make changes and do things that seem impossible, we just have to get up and take action. It taught me that when we do take action, time management, communication, and commitment are all crucial.
FFA has taught me the value of truly working towards a goal and the rewards that you gain from accomplishing them. I remember waiting backstage at SLC my freshman year before my Floriculture team went on stage to hear our results. That is the most nervous I have ever been in my life and I think it’s because my team and I had put so much time and effort into preparing for that competition and we wanted to see it pay off. It definitely did when all four of us placed as the top four individuals. This was the first time that I was truly able to see how special it is when you can see that the work you put into something really does matter and it shows.
FFA has taught me that it’s okay to fail. It’s okay to take risks and go outside of your comfort zone. You have nothing to lose. Something that is a constant struggle for me is the fear of not being good enough. Last spring when I decided to run for district office I was excited and I worked really hard to make sure that my application was the best quality I could make it. I also studied hard for the knowledge exam and prepared well for my interview. I was definitely prepared, yet I still allowed the fear to creep in, and I started listening to the voices in my head telling me I wasn’t good enough. The morning of district officer sifting I had a melt down in my FFA advisor’s room, because I was scared that I wouldn’t be good enough (not my proudest moment). I managed to stop overthinking it and decided that I really had nothing to lose. I’m so glad that I was able to overcome my fear in that moment, because being able to serve as a district officer and build new relationships through that has been an exciting and humbling experience.
FFA has taught me that it is imperative to surround yourself with people who bring you up, people who inspire you, and people who make you feel like you don’t have to hide behind a mask, like you can be your true self. At DOT this year, I was able to see that the FFA organization is full of these types of people, and I was reminded why I love FFA and how lucky I am to be a part of it. FFA taught me the value of making strong relationships with people who will always be there for you.
Most importantly, FFA has taught me that together we can make a big difference. It’s okay to ask for help and we don’t have to do everything on our own. FFA has taught me that we have a purpose, and together, we can accomplish anything we put our minds to.