Thursday, February 20, 2014

Throwback Thursday: FFA

(Opening side note: I've been accused of not blogging much since the baby was born. True story, although I did spend all last month catching up. If you want to see baby pictures, car crash pictures, etc, etc, just go back a few posts - it's all there. I'll try to do better moving forward, but well, I'm making no promises.)

It's National FFA Week, or so my FFA-involved friends on Facebook tell me. I like to think every week is FFA week because this is an organization that I very much appreciate and benefited greatly from.

FFA was a HUGE part of my high school years. Sure, I wore the blue jacket when I showed livestock at fairs and shows, but that was just the tip of the proverbial FFA iceberg for me.
(Respect the blue jacket. Every spring when the state FFA convention comes to campus, I get a bit crazy checking out how the kids are wearing their trademark blue corduroy jackets. I often want to scream "ZIP IT UP OR TAKE IT OFF" to complete strangers, but dang it, wear it right or don't wear it at all.)

Being a part of the National FFA Organization taught me many skills in high school that now, as a 34-year old adult, I still use.

Service to others was just a part of our chapter's core values and thus became one of my core values as well. Serving at banquets, cleaning up at camp, putting together and delivering Thanksgiving baskets, helping younger members with their animals, hauling hay, you name it, if someone needed help with it, there was usually an FFA member there. It was ingrained in us from freshman year that if something needs to be done, there is someone to do it, and there's rarely a reason to keep it from being me.
(In my defense, I don't know that anyone can make a white rubber apron and sweaty forehead look good.)

We also worked. Hard.
A lot of the service projects we took on got us sweaty and gross. Working outside was often hot and uncomfortable, but we did it anyway. As a group, we pretty much abhorred whining, so complainers learned to hide their discomfort quickly. It was usually nice to be surrounded by friends and to all do a job together, but it was still work. Individual projects were a lot of work too. Record books rarely balanced out correctly the first time through, putting together profit-and-loss statements for income-generating projects was tedious and tiresome, researching topics for the extemporaneous speaking contest took hours and hours, memorizing the creed, making banquet arrangements, halter-breaking a steer, nursing a calf back to health, building a fence, and repairing a grain bin all took time and lots of hard work. They were all jobs that needed to get done, and like it or not, complain about it or be content, you had to do them.
(A dark and grainy picture of me receiving my State FFA Degree. I stood on stage for maybe 2 minutes, but this represented a culmination of 4 years worth of work.)

Teamwork was also stressed. In high school there are so many cliques and groups. Girls are mean, boys are jerks. But when we put on our blue jackets, all of that crap had to go away if we wanted to be successful. I was on the officer team for two years, and I didn't always like the other kids I was serving with. Some probably didn't like me either, but we worked together and got along anyway. I learned that it's not being fake to set aside differences and work with someone you really don't like; it's being mature and acting like an adult to put the team's goals ahead of personal squabbles.
(Our officer team during a group speaking competition. (Yes, that is me doing my best Barker Beauty impersonation.) No, we didn't all like each other, but we wanted to compete well, so we momentarily got over our petty differences and worked together to win.)

Thank you National FFA Organization! I hope your week in the spotlight is grand and glorious. You gave me some great memories and skills that I rely on today. In a few short years, I'll be happy to introduce you to my daughters and will proudly help them into their blue jackets.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

12 on the 12th: February

Go Seahawks! Visits from Great-Grandma Carol and Uncle Kasey and Aunt Christina. Playing in the snow. Matching jammies. Sweet baby. Silly Big girl.

(click on photos to for larger view.)