Growing up a fourth generation FFA member and a dairy farmer’s daughter, joining the world’s largest youth leadership organization was something I looked forward to since I can remember. My school is one of only a handful of Oregon schools that offers agricultural education & FFA to junior high students. Even more exciting is that we are the only private Christian school in the state of Oregon with an active FFA chapter. Naturally, when I was in Junior High I became an active member of the Santiam Christian FFA Chapter and I can honestly say this has been the best decision of my life. FFA has effectively made me the individual that I am today. FFA has allowed me to discover my own gifts & talents, but even more importantly, FFA has taught me how I can use my leadership skills to serve those around me. FFA has defined the way I act, the way I talk and the way I think.
This past year, I had the opportunity to represent Oregon in the Employment Skills Leadership Development Event at the National FFA Convention, in Indianapolis, Indiana. This was not my first experience competing at Nationals – last year I represented Oregon in the Dairy Cattle Evaluation Contest, where I received a Gold Medal for my efforts evaluating dairy cows. The employment skills event, however, is very different from judging cows. I spent hours developing my job description, resume, and cover letter leading up to convention. Once the contest began, I spent 15-long-exhausting hours in interviews, phone calls, and networking events. I ended up placing as a finalist in the contest, a huge feat! Earning a second Gold Medal is an achievement that makes me incredibly proud. However, even more significant than the awards are the memories and friendships made through these experiences.
The National FFA Convention’s theme this year was “Just One.” What that means to me is that it only takes ONE…One moment, one encounter, one opportunity … to radically change the course of our lives. Zipping up my blue corduroy jacket, walking through the streets of Indianapolis surrounded by over 65,000 other FFA Members from around the country, and realizing this is “Just One” of the amazing opportunities offered in FFA was exhilarating. Being surrounded by other FFA members who are passionate about the same things in life that I am reminds me that I am part of something much bigger than myself.
Even more exciting at Nationals this year was that President Donald Trump addressed our delegation. Regardless of your political affiliation, having President Trump speak to the young agriculturalists who comprise the National FFA Organization was inspiring. His message was quite simple: WE ARE THE FUTURE OF AGRICULTURE – and let’s be honest, farmers feed the world! I consider this both an honor and a challenge that I look forward to in my coming years.
I credit my upbringing on our Jersey dairy farm for the drive I have to reach for “Just One” more opportunity that awaits me in FFA. This year I am looking forward to competing in the Advanced Public Speaking Career Development Event, where I will advocate for the future of the dairy industry by challenging the FDA to support their food labeling laws to label MILK accurately. For me FFA is more than just a club, it’s a way of life. Those famous words written by EM Tiffany so long ago that comprise The FFA Creed are words that I live by each day “I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds.” Those deeds look a bit different for everyone, but for me, those deeds start in the morning when I am milking my show cows, or feeding the calves and heifers. The dedication to push forward, despite hardships, is engrained in my innermost being – because that’s what we do on the farm. I believe through hard work and dedication, you can do achieve anything you set your mind to.
FFA has changed my life for the better and I am so grateful for such an amazing organization that has molded me in to the person I am today. I will forever consider my the blue and gold my family.
Written by Gracie Krahn, Royal Riverside Farm, Albany, Oregon