Tuesday, February 24, 2015

National FFA Week

I discovered through social media that this week is National FFA Week. My years in FFA were 4 of the best years of my life and have made a lasting impression on me. I will say that my years in both FFA and 4-H taught me more than any other class or subject in school ever could have and I'm not just talking about learning about cows, sows, and plows. It's so much more than that!

I had two of the very best at teachers in the entire state of Texas - Mrs. Witt and Mr. Thomas! 
FFA Banquet with the best two ag teachers! 

From the National FFA Website
National FFA Week is an opportunity for FFA members, alumni and sponsors to advocate for agricultural education and FFA. It's a time to share with local, state and national audiences what FFA is and the impact it has on members every day.

I was invloved in ag classes all four years of high school, became involved in showing cattle, parliamentary procedure and skills teams, horse, livestock and floraculture judging teams, was an officer for 3 years, and the list goes on. Horse judging allowed me to get a college scholarship and go on to compete in  horse judging contest in college and travel across the country. 

I traveled across the state with Mrs. Witt to state conventions, livestock shows, and competitions. She usually made me ride up front, because I was the one of the group that would never go to sleep in a vehicle, so I could help her stay awake. So many awesome memories traveling to Houston, Ft Worth, Lubbock, Amarillo, Stephenville, College Station, Nacogdoches, Commerce, Texarkana, and many places in between, as well as a trip to the National FFA Convention to receive my National FFA Degree. 
Senior year, with my heifer Rosie. I believe this was at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. 

I remember one of our first assignments in freshman ag was to introduce ourselves to a person in school authority and shake their hands. And by shake, it was a firm hand shake, even if you're a girl! I was a nervous girl shaking the assistant principals hand at lunch that day, but we were learning about public relations and business skills in that moment. 

We learned about responsibility, determination, team work, a strong work ethic, organization, public speaking, and how to conduct a meeting. We also were taught to properly fill out job applications, resumes, and job interview skills. While I've never had to fill out an application for the jobs I have worked, I did compete in the job fair my senior year in high school. I was always a tshirt and jeans kind of girl, but that day I wore my Sunday best dress and everyone was shocked, but I had been taught to dress for the interview and be professional. I'm amazed at some of the job applications I have been handed, the kids I've interview and the slouchy attire I've see as someone walks in off the street and ask for a job. I know without a doubt, they did not go through the Gilmer FFA program or they would have been way more prepared. If you really want a job, clean up, dress up, fix your hair, introduce yourself with a firm hand shake, and tell your prospective boss how you can help them. Fill out your job application and resume neatly and completely. You can also make things like "feeding cows" have a much more impressive description as you are "responsible for the nutritional well being and safety of the bovine species."
Freshman year - my first show steer (born and raised on our family ranch)

One year as I was filling out my class schedule for the next year, my counselor told me "I was too smart to be in ag," that I needed to be in an honors math class instead. That made me so mad and I had to kindly tell her that I would be staying in ag. I was showing and selling steers at the county fair through FFA, the sale money would in turn be placed in my college savings account as well as qualify me for several scholarships. That was real life math to me. I would be gaining life skills, record keeping, and community service that would make me much more prepared for after high school. She didn't really like it, but I stayed in ag! 

Mr. Thomas even give me some dating advise one time. Simply "if you wouldn't marry him, don't date him." I think that wisdom helped me end a few relationships and how wise it is. 

I also took my first floral design class in high school and went on to win the state floriculture award in the summer of 1999. I had a cast on my arm at state convention, but that's a whole other story. Looking back at some of the wreaths I made then, oh my, but that's  when I started making rope wreaths. They've come a long way! I remember the crazy mock wedding we had in class. We recycled silk flowers for the wedding and I believe I was the preacher who over saw the ceremony!

State FFA Convention, 1999, receiving State Floraculture Award

FFA will always have a special place in my heart. Truth be told, I hated school, yet I was a smart kid (I was one out of the top 10%). It was my involvement in ag and FFA that made me want to get up and go to school. That's were my friends were and two great instructors, who were and are still friends to me. At times, the school district thought about discontinuing some of the vocational courses and I personally think it would have been detrimental to so many people. I'm so thankful for the experiences I had in FFA and the wonderful people who helped make them happen. Without a doubt, Mrs. Witt and Mr. Thomas are the two teachers that influenced my life the most. 

I know I'll forever remember my years in FFA and hope that I can give back a portion of what I was given. 


  1. Thanks so much for sharing this, Janice. What a wonderful experience for you, and everything you've managed to accomplish (which is tremendous) is amazing! I loved reading of your experiences in ag and FFA! I have two young cousins who went that route also and now they help their dad run the farm. You are really a smart young woman, and I know I've told you before, but I am so very proud of you. We will not likely every meet in person, but I hope you know I'm your cheerleader here in FL. Keep up the good work, my young friend.

  2. FFA is an awesome organization. And the blue corduroy jackets are the coolest!

  3. I was in the FHA...Future Homemakers of America...can you say Boring?


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