2018 Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame induction ceremony
National Hog Farmer Senior Staff Writer Kevin Schulz, second from the right, is inducted into the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame.

Find what makes you strive and thrive

Not everyone can be the team’s quarterback, and not everyone can be the chapter FFA president. It’s up to you to find what makes you flourish in your life to do work that matters.

I am a good example of it’s not necessarily what you know, but who you know. Most of the jobs I have attained were because I had an “in” to get the interview, and ultimately landed the job. Hopefully, it has been my ability that has kept me employed.

I am also a good example of a person who has achieved some things in my life even though I was never the best in my class or the best on my team. Everyone finds, or at least I hope they are able to, that one thing that gives them the opportunity to strive and thrive.

I had the pleasure earlier this week of attending the Minnesota State FFA Convention, and in the sea of blue corduroy, I saw a lot of faces that looked familiar. Familiar not because I knew them, but what I saw in the faces of today’s youth was young people who had found something that they were passionate about. FFA for them had become what the football team was for others; what the mock trial team was for others; what striving to be the class valedictorian was for still others.

FFA has allowed so many youth across America to strive and thrive, where they may otherwise have squandered away their high school years just going through the motions. Even though I was involved in FFA, I was never a chapter officer, but I did attend state and national conventions. It was after my high school years that I saw what I missed out on. In my job before coming to National Hog Farmer, I made a career of telling FFA members’ stories, both current members, but also members who had seen the calendar flip 25 years since they had served as state FFA officers for Minnesota.

These stories I was fortunate to retell were varied in where the sources came from, why they sought FFA. Some were squandering their high school years until they found FFA. Then they flourished. They became chapter officers, then district, then region, then state and even a couple became national FFA officers.

Varied backgrounds and reasons, but all had the commonality of the pride that went with wearing that corduroy jacket. I had great pride, and humility, as I walked in front of the “blue horde” Monday night at Mariucci Arena on the campus of the University of Minnesota to be inducted into the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame.

As I stood there with the seven other inductees looking out into the great promise shining in the youth’s faces, I wanted to tell each and every one of them to enjoy their time and to get everything possible out of the experience. They may not have won the contest, heck maybe they were only attending the convention to check it out and get out of school for a couple days. But I would encourage them to be a sponge, much like I continue to be. Latch onto a rising star, and see what they do, how they carry themselves and model yourself after them.

Not everyone can be the chapter president, but you can be one that makes things happen.

In a few weeks, you will see who we have chosen as the 2018 class of Masters of the Pork Industry. Each of these, you will see, live their lives that we can all look up to, people we need to model our lives after. They all share the same philosophy that their mission is much bigger than themselves, it is for the good of their business, their family and their industry.

I am constantly reminded of one of our past Masters of the Pork Industry, and words that he said have stuck with me. When I interviewed Bob Morrison in his office at the University of Minnesota in2016, he said that he encourages his team to “do work that matters.”

Four simple words, but isn’t that a mantra that we should all hold to? This week marks the one year anniversary that we lost Bob Morrison, as well as Pam Wetzell and Deb Spronk, in a car accident while they were in a group traveling to a swine conference in the Czech Republic.

Let’s not dwell on the void that their losses have created in our lives, but let’s honor and celebrate their lives.

Do work that matters.

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