Tuesday, April 3, 2018

I place this class...

Banquet season is upon us. Celebrating the year’s accomplishments with fellow chapter members, parents, mentors, sponsors, teachers, coaches and so many more is a highly anticipated event for any FFA member. Blue jackets are zipped up one final time for the school year. Senior FFA members say their final words, accomplishments are celebrated, and awards are given to those deserving.

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to share a few words with the Pipestone Area FFA chapter at their banquet. After hearing a wonderfully recited creed, celebrating the awards won by state-advancing teams and individuals, and saying my short piece, I helped the chapter clean up the space. During this, I was pulled aside by one of the member’s parents. He thanked me for coming and for sharing a few words with the chapter. He asked what events I competed in and what my role looks like as an officer. I explained to him I was my chapter’s creed speaker, prepared public speaker, and tried my hand at general livestock judging a few times.

Then he said something that will stick with me forever: “You know how you give reasons for judging? There will always be reasons for everything you do in life - from the significant other you choose to spend the rest of your life with to placing a class of market hogs. You do it for a reason. There is a reason you are here tonight. You might not have touched the lives of everyone in this room, but you impacted a few and that’s why you’re here.”

While we may not have to explain why we placed the number four gilt over the number two every day of our lives, there is a reason for every decision we make and for every result that comes our way. Maybe being a leader with a title isn’t our thing, but taking the opportunity to attend a summer conference to learn more might be a good opportunity to stretch ourselves. Maybe it’s sitting at a lunch table with the classmate who sits alone everyday and having a conversation with them. Maybe it’s studying for that history test a little more so we get the GPA we need to be accepted into our dream college. Maybe it’s not winning a contest or game, but accepting other opportunities instead.

In 9th grade, I set a goal of only attending National Convention if I earned a trip. During my junior year, I competed in the prepared public speaking event for the second time at state convention. I was confident in my speech and my presentation and was feeling really good after finals. I got to the stage only to be handed the second place plaque. Leaving convention, I was really disappointed in myself. For weeks, I thought about what I could have done differently or how I could have answered certain questions better.

In July, I applied to serve Minnesota as a voting delegate for National Convention. Blessed with the opportunity to do this, I later learned that I would not have had this experience if I had won prepared public speaking back in April. During my first National Convention, I met some of the most incredible people, learned how the FFA truly is a student led organization and how we as members have an influence, and realized how much of a blessing it is to wear the blue jacket alongside over 600,000 members from across this great nation.

I’ve learned life isn’t about the grand moments that only happen every once in a while; it’s about how we reason with ourselves to embrace the little sentiments and treasures hidden in each day. Good days and bad, there is a reason you experience the joy, disappointment, fear, anger, surprise, and sadness placed in our lives. One of my favorite Bible verses is Esther 4:14: “Perhaps this is the moment for which you have been created.”

This is your moment. Your time is now. You are perfectly imperfect and made for this day. What is your reason? Why are you here? What actions are you taking? How will they affect others? How will you ensure you find your reason? How can you be a genuine reason in someone else’s life? What actions will you take?      

Minnesota FFA, you have given me a reason - a reason to smile, to laugh and to cry, to challenge myself and to step out of my comfort zone. I am forever grateful for all of the laughs, tears, challenges, opportunities, and memories you have brought into my life. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for accepting me with open arms and joyful hearts. I cannot imagine my life without y’all in it - thank you for giving me a reason.

For the final time - stationed by the ear of corn,

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