National FFA week is here. It is refreshing to see my social media news feed filled with fond memories of wearing the blue jacket instead of the alternative political rhetoric. FFA offers any student the opportunity to explore the world of agriculture and learn real-world life lessons.
I bet the majority of those working in agriculture can recall at least one FFA experience as a member or perhaps as an adult for those unfortunate not to have a chapter at the local school. The blue jacket experience can be a whirlwind of activities paved with many character-building adventures.
Still, as the California FFA state officer team shared with me at the World Ag Expo last week, the FFA experience is what you make of it. Yes, life is a journey, but the tone of your steps will actually shape the terrain of your path because always walking the same trail only leads to fatigue of familiar territory.
On a busy day at the largest farm show in their state, I borrowed five minutes of their time to get some sound advice. So, let us channel our younger FFA spirit and take a page from the Golden State officer team.
Andrew Skidmore, state president, hails from Atwater. He is serving on the state officer team with his twin sister, Amanda. His FFA focus was breeding and market goats, agriculture mechanics and extemporaneous public speaking. Andrew credits the FFA for giving him great confidence to move forward with any tasks he pursues to tackle. As an officer, he “hopes to invest into the members, brings a new face to the agriculture industry, and educate individuals in our capitol. Advice to fellow agriculturalists: Be You! California FFA
Lauren Millang, state vice president, is from Woodland. Her FFA experience was filled with public speaking contests, market lambs production and horse judging. Lauren says FFA has given her the courage to try something new, to believe in herself and always challenge herself. Advice to fellow agriculturalists: Don’t be afraid to try something you might fail at. Failure is a lesson in itself. California FFA
Amanda Skidmore, state secretary, is from Atwater. In FFA, she was actively involved in dairy, poultry and goat production. She also participated it many public speaking and judging contests. Amanda says FFA has opened a world of opportunities. Advice to fellow agriculturalists: Talk to your grandparents! California FFA
Samuel Looper, state treasurer, hails from Apple Valley. He was introduced to the world of agriculture through FFA. He embraced the experience by first raising market hogs and cattle. Now, he has a small herd of eight head of cattle, and he donates the calves back to fellow FFA members, so, they too can share the experience of raising livestock. Advice to fellow agriculturalists: Take hold of opportunities. Samuel says he missed out on many opportunities his freshman and sophomore years by not actively participating in FFA. California FFA
Conner Vernon, state reporter, is from Nipomo. Swine and sheep production was his main focus in FFA, leaving it all in the show ring. At the end of his FFA career, his swine herd consists of 10 sows and a small flock of sheep. He credits FFA for giving him many opportunities. Advice to fellow agriculturalists: Say, Yes to opportunities and follow your passion. California FFA
Jace Neugebauer, state sentinel, is from Fall River Mills. When he was not on the football field, Jace spent his FFA time raising market hogs and cattle. He inherited his love for FFA and agriculture from his dad and grandfather who spent their professional careers as agriculture teachers. Jace credits FFA for opening many doors of opportunity in his life. Advice to fellow agriculturalists: Keep as many doors open as long as you can and trust your heart when making decisions. California FFA