Sunday, December 2, 2018

The Gifts We Share

Tis the season to be jolly … and visit FFA Chapters! This last week, many of my teammates and I made our way around southern Minnesota to learn about different chapters, meet members, and leave with them some tools they can use to improve their ability to network, grow, and achieve their goals. During my time in our agricultural education classrooms, I enjoyed sharing what I had and learning what I could.
After making my first stop at Cannon Falls for a game of dodgeball and time to meet some of the members, I made my way to Duane and Marni Albert’s home – relatives of a friend I had made through my time in National FFA Chorus. Their home served as my home base for the week and also a place for me to learn more about the dairy industry as I listened to conversations at the supper table and took a tour of their dairy operation.
On Tuesday, I headed to Randolph FFA, the home chapter of Grace and Laura. It’s no wonder why there are two state officers from this chapter – with an advisor like Mr. Ed Terry, students are on a springboard to success in whatever they do. I met with many of the students, administrators, and Mr. Terry himself. We spent nearly an hour and a half talking about what their chapter does, strengths and weaknesses he sees with agricultural education, and why he’s stuck around for 42 years! The passion he shares with the students every day was exciting to experience.
That evening, I met another legend. Dick Sauder, a former National Chorus Member, National Officer
Candidate, and Nebraska State President. We played music, ate supper together, and he even recited the FFA creed from memory after a little coaxing from his grandkids. He shared with me his stories, memories, and the reasons that he loved FFA and still keeps his jacket in a special place.
Adam with a few of the Pine Island Agricultural Education Students

On Wednesday afternoon, after finishing up at Pine Island, Duane’s brother in law and my friend’s dad, Stan, invited me to tour the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and play piano music in one of the many lobbies there. I was excited to see the hospital and where Stan worked, because I had heard great things about it, but I wasn’t so sure about playing a piano there. I’ve played at churches since I was a 5th grader, but this was a little out of my comfort zone. I went on my private tour and Stan showed me a lobby that wasn’t super busy and told me to stay as long as I wanted and that I could feel free to move around.
I started to play – for myself mostly, but for anyone who cared to listen as they were walking down the hall. After about 20 minutes of playing there, I decided I’d go check out the other pianos there (pianos are like snowflakes, they’re all a little different). As I got up, an older lady walked up to me and said “Thanks for playing. I was on the phone and the people on the other end asked me if I was at a concert.” I didn’t even know anyone was listening, but it put a smile on my face to see her happiness.
As I got to the main lobby, I noticed the piano I had been eyeing up earlier was no longer occupied. So I sat down and again started to play. People flowed through that hallway by the dozens, but many took time to send a smile my way, wave, say thanks, or just slow down to be there a little longer. Others asked to take a video so they could show a patient who they were visiting. I was having so much fun, I ended up staying there for about 2.5 hours!
This season, maybe you are thinking about gifts you need to buy for those on your list; however, some of the most meaningful and precious gifts do not cost us any money. The greatest gift I gave or received this week, was time. Duane, Marni, Stan, Dick, Mr. Terry and all the other agriculture teachers, agricultural education students, FFA members, and many others gave me their time as I visited chapters, and they shared many stories or pieces of advice with me.
I only spent 2.5 hours at the Mayo, but my time there left many people with smiles and good feelings of Christmas joy. What do you have to share? You might not have much money; you might not have much time, but everyone has something – even if it is just a little bit of love or a smile.
May you have a Blessed Holiday Season and a Happy New Year!
Adam Kroll
MN FFA State Treasurer

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