At the Minnesota State Fair, the CHS Miracle of Birth Center is full of life, noise, and of course people. Throughout the twelve days of “The Great Minnesota Get-Together,” I had the chance to visit with countless fairgoers and FFA members, just as I had done many times before. This year was unique however when I had the opportunity to visit with two aspiring FFA members named Sarah and Veronica.
Sarah and Veronica walked into the Chapter House and Leadership Center after a long day of 4-H shows. We introduced ourselves and began visiting about the state fair, their 4-H projects, and what they were excited for as school began. Soon enough I found out they weren’t in FFA, which really surprised me. Their passion for agriculture and respectful presence gave me every reason to believe they were two unbelievable FFA members. Although they weren’t FFA members, I quickly realized that they wanted to be. Their school had no agriculture program, but they came to the FFA Chapter House to find out how they could make it happen. Their excitement fueled my energy to share all that FFA has to offer, so I began telling my own story. We discussed how principals, teachers, and parents could all serve as resources to help establish a chapter. Before I knew it, our conversation had evolved from exchanging names to exchanging contact information!
As we said our goodbyes, Sarah and Veronica walked out of the FFA Chapter House knowing they had a challenge in front of them. This year they will attempt an extremely hefty task that not many would have the courage to take on. The cool part is that they have everything it takes to succeed. Both Sarah and Veronica have taken simple steps that will help them work towards establishing an agriculture education program and FFA chapter in their high school.
Have you ever seen someone running on the side of the road? It’s a fairly common sight and in most cases, people are passive to everything about that runner besides whether or not you will hit them with your car (Don’t worry…I promise I have never hit anyone on the side of the road!). But try to take a deeper look. Why are they running? What does their day look like as a result of going on that run? Whether we realize it or not, these are all things runners work through as they exercise. In a similar way, Sarah and Veronica are beginning a long distance run.
Preparing to run and going on a long-distance run can be split into a few different parts. Looking at each will help us see how Sarah and Veronica are enduring their own run.
The Precursor: Runners know exactly what they want to do. They have made up their mind that they will run, find a route and decide on a time. They also have an end goal in mind, whether that is to be healthier, lose weight or train for a race. Sarah and Veronica did this exact same thing when they decided they wanted to establish an agriculture education program and FFA chapter in their high school.
Stretch it Out: Now that runners have decided what route they will take and when they will run, they have to prepare their body for the exercise. Long distance runners will stretch much longer than those that don’t run, just to be sure they are ready for the intensity. In a similar fashion, Sarah and Veronica had to learn about FFA in order to be more successful in their route to establishing a chapter. The more information and resources they have, the better off they will be.
Put on Your Running Shoes: Before the runner can begin, they must have support for their feet. Besides protection, running shoes will ensure a much easier course. At this point, it is essential for Sarah and Veronica to develop a strong support team. These people will be instrumental in finding an advisor, members, and community supporters for their program. Having a strong Alumni or support group is beneficial to any agriculture education program and FFA chapter.
Stay hydrated: In any form of exercise, it is important to keep your body hydrated. Not only does it keep you going during a run, it maintains important daily body functions. Runners recognize this importance and make sure they stop to refuel with water. This year, Sarah and Veronica will often be exhausted. In fact, there will be times when giving up seems to be the easiest option. They also have the option to keep going, however. In order to continue, Sarah and Veronica understand they need to take care of themselves in order to reach their finish line.
Cool Down: Every great runner ends with a cooldown to let their body return to its natural pace. Occasionally, Sarah and Veronica will need to take moments to "cool down" or reflect on the progress they have made so far. This is also a great time for them to reevaluate their end goal, tie their shoes, and rehydrate.
My friends Sarah and Veronica have a very impressive goal and I dearly hope they are able to achieve it in the near future. But let’s change gears and talk about your goals! This year, we will each have the opportunity to cross a finish line, and that finish line can be whatever you decide. Take a moment to think of that one bucket list item you want to check off, the Career or Leadership Development Event you want to win, or the class you want to ace! For example, I always wanted to win the Region II Dairy Cattle Evaluation Career Development Event. Once you know exactly what you want to do…you have mastered the precursor to success in your long distance run!
Crossing the finish line in your long distance run requires the simple steps that Sarah and Veronica will also endure. After many hours of studying and practice judging with local farmers, I was able to achieve my goal of placing first at the Region II Dairy Cattle Evaluation Career Development Event. If we remember to stretch it out, put on our running shoes, stay hydrated, and take some time to cool down, I'm confident that we can all reach our own finish line.
Stationed by the Flag,
Minnesota FFA State Reporter