10 months ago today, my team was learning and growing at the Blast-Off conference as we started our year of service. I remember the excitement and nervousness I felt as my team awkwardly got to know each other. We cried while trying to learn how to write speeches with the dreaded Magic Formula and laughed as we took a whole bunch of clothespins and put them on Joe. Our weekend started off on Friday though, and one of the first things we did was pick a quote that resonated with us. As we did a gallery walk to admire the many quotes on the wall, one stuck out to me in particular. This quote by Nelson Mandela is, “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”
I have come to realize the extreme importance this quote has had on my life. As I’ve traveled the world this year and met the most amazing people, I have seen the light they have shone on me and the others around me. Whether it be FFA members, agricultural industry leaders or Agriculture teachers, the people that shine their light somehow inspire others to do the same. The question is, what does it really mean to shine your light?
I’ve seen so many examples of people shining their light, but I came to realize exactly what it meant less than a month ago when my team visited the Commissioner of Education, Brenda Cassellius. Our team had the opportunity to visit with her during FFA Week, and we couldn’t wait to share the story of agricultural education and FFA with her. As we walked into her office, I began to get butterflies in my stomach—this lady has an important role and I knew it. We sat down and began to share about graduation rates of agricultural education students, the opportunities within FFA and the unique learning experiences that happen with hands-on learning in agriculture classes. All the while, Commissioner Cassellius sat intently listening to what each one of us had to say. Throughout our conversation, she would ask questions or make comments to show her interest in what we were doing.
But through all of this, my favorite part of this visit was hearing Commissioner Cassellius story and her passion for making sure all students get an education. She shared about her childhood and how public education and the teachers in it saved her. Her passion for students radiated from the words she spoke, and I saw the absolute love she has for children. On her office door reads, “Measure everything in child benefit.” This is what it means to shine your light. It is when you are willing to give more than you have to do what you are passionate about. Shining your light is about deciding to be All In by sharing your loves with others and listening to others share theirs. Commissioner Cassellius shared her light with us that day in her office.
We all have the capabilities to shine our light. We can have a conversation with someone about the love we have for our livestock. Or maybe we volunteer at the local elementary school to strengthen our passion for educating others. By sharing what makes us shine, we truly give permission for others to do the same. What is the thing that makes you get out of bed in the morning and go to sleep with a smile on our face? How can you share that with others?
This year, I have been inspired by so many people to shine my light because they have shone theirs. I can’t thank this organization enough for allowing me to shine my light this year. My heart has been filled by the generosity, love and service I have seen. As my team’s year comes to end in less than two months, I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to serve an organization that has given so much to me. FFA members, teachers, advisors and supporters, continue to shine your light because you inspired me to do just that.
For the final time,
Stationed by the Plow,