Tuesday, November 25, 2014

FFA Thanksgiving

Minnesota, Spring Valley-Wykoff FFA, 2012-2013 Chapter Historian, Valerie Earley, read my FFA jacket.

As I zipped up my FFA jacket, I was filled with excitement and pride. Although it felt like I had just put on a cardboard box because the arms were so stiff, I was anxious to see what I would experience, who I would meet and how I would grow while wearing the corduroy.  

In large gold letters on the back of my jacket the word “Minnesota” was proudly embroidered. Minnesota is known for many traditions including funny accents, hotdish and great sports. Well, maybe not sports, but Minnesota is known for its strong agricultural industries. Although our advancements in agriculture have played a large part, it has taken strong leaders to continue Minnesota’s tradition in agriculture. One person that has become a role model in agriculture in Minnesota is Kevin Paap, Minnesota Farm Bureau President. While playing a vital role in the continued success of agriculture, he has taken the time to help me grow and understand that my voice in agriculture is valuable.  

Spring Valley-Wykoff and 2012-2013 Chapter Historian, my chapter and office, were written on my jacket. Spring Valley, the home of the stapler, and Wykoff, the town I grew up closest to on my family’s farm, are two small towns in southeast Minnesota that I am proud to be a part of. Although they are both great towns to live in, the things that make these towns great are the people. Mrs. Derby and Mrs. Cleveland, my two English teachers, are two of these wonderful people. Whether it was practicing the FFA Creed my freshman year, a speech for region office or for the Prepared Public Speaking CDE senior year, they always made time in their busy schedules to intently listen and help me improve each time.

Valerie Earley. While I am thankful for a unique first name, it is my last name that represents my family. Throughout my life, I have had endless support from my family. My family is the reason I first wanted to get involved in agriculture. Whether I was celebrating success or facing a challenge, I am proud to be a part of family who is supportive to one another.

In this jacket, I have met people from all over the United States, grown from a shy freshman to a confident leader and found my voice in my community and in agriculture. However, all of these would not be possible without the people who supported and encouraged me along the way. From leaders in agriculture to my English teachers to my family, my growth through FFA would not have been possible without the people who supported me while I wear the blue jacket.

Our FFA jackets represent the unique parts of our lives. They represent each of us and the impactful experiences we have had. They represent our communities and the support people have given us in the FFA organization.

There are many opportunities in FFA that keep our schedules busy, but they give us the experiences we need grow. However, we often forget an important part. We forget to thank those who have supported and encouraged us. While Thanksgiving brings delicious pumpkin pie, stuffing and mashed potatoes, it also brings a time to reflect on the growth in our lives and the people who have made it possible.

While we enter our Thanksgiving festivities this week, together let’s take time to thank three people. Whether you write them a thank you, thank them in person or send them a message on social media, showing appreciation is the most important part of this season. While the corduroy has a rich history on its own, it is because of the people we will thank that our experiences become impactful.   

Stationed by the ear of corn,

Valerie Earley

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