How a National Blue Jacket Changed My Life..

I always claim to have some sort of memory loss, I’m scatter brained, and if I didn’t have my planner and phone calendar, I’d be lost. There is one day I remember plain as day…. May 16th, 2014, a day that I had been preparing myself for, since I joined the FFA in the Fall of 2009… This morning was similar to many mornings throughout my high school career, I woke at 5:30 to jump in the shower, fix my hair, and makeup, put on a black A-line skirt, and zip up my Area 1 Association jacket for the next to last time. I grabbed a quick breakfast because I knew that day would be fast paced, and wouldn’t allow for much time between happenings to dilly dally around. I walked into a meeting room filled with the five other individuals who had also spent a year serving the Area 1 Association, their Ag teachers, and a few others who were Area Coordinators. These Men and Women were the glue that held together our team, all the members, advisors, districts, and chapters of our area. The morning continued on with each of us reviewing the schedule for the Convention we would be hosting that evening and the next day at Tascosa High in Amarillo, Tx.

From Left to Right: My older Brother Sheldon(Texas FFA Vice President), myself, Taylor Shackelford(Texas FFA 1st Vice President), and Peyton Gilbert(Texas FFA State President). The three starting their morning in Follett for School visits!

While everyone hustled around, prepping and planning, ironing out fine details, three of us were a bit more slow paced, trying to calm our nerves, and get ready for the State Officer Election Process. When they made the first call for our interviews you could sense a sudden nervousness that came over all three of us. We were close, a lot like family in that year, we travelled together, were constantly in a group text, and spent our time away from each other wishing we were back on the road being advocates of the wonderful Association in which we represented. We laughed, and cried, cheered each other on, and now we were competing against each other, yet again. When it came my turn to face the panel of interviewers, I said a quick prayer, and walked into that room with hope, and faith in my heart. The questions varied in topics, but one questions towards the end hit me, and hit me hard. “What are your future plans, and goals.” I had been tossing around ideas for months, did I want to go to Clarendon and Meat Judge, then go to Tech and Major in Ag Communications? Did I want to pursue this wild crazy dream I had since a Sophomore, to become a Livestock Photographer and have my own business.. What did I want to do? I thought for a second more, and when I opened my mouth, the words fell right out. “I want to be a Livestock Photographer, have my own business, and give back to the Association, Parents, Teachers, and Students who have made me who I am, and supported me all of these years..” Little did I know, those words would stick. After our interviews we had to deliver our speech we would be giving to the entire convention hall to another Ag Teacher for him to approve.

IMG_6174     We talked with the Incoming Area Officers, and prepared them for how quick the year would fly by. That evening when the Auditorium was filled, the sound of Fall Out Boy came over the crowd, and we were off to a start, running through all the members, up to the stage, where we would say Opening Ceremonies, salute the flag, and begin the talent contest, New Area Officer Elections, and then the State Officer Speeches. When it came time to deliver my speech I again, said a prayer, and walked across the stage, delivering my speech about overcoming adversity. While that day flew by, there still are so many vivid details of conversations and words of encouragement that will forever be in my heart.

I did not accomplish my dream of becoming a Texas FFA State Officer, but instead today, I am living out exactly what I told that room of Ag Teachers, a Livestock Photographer is what my title is. I came across three of my FFA Jackets this last week, and just skipped down memory lane, many hours spent in those blue corduroy jackets.  Many moments of happiness, laughter, and a few tears are held in the pockets of each, but the thing that stuck out, was the back of the jacket, and how it varied. As an eighth grader it just had my chapter, Follett, on the bottom. My next jacket was my District Officer jacket, it had Top-O-Texas written along the bottom edge of the FFA Emblem. The third was my Area Officer Jacket, it had Area 1 on the back, I couldn’t help but smile as I looked through each of them. They all had items in their pockets ranging from notes, to a few happy grams, a couple gum wrappers, and a pen or two.

IMG_6177Remembering the memories in each of those jackets is only half of why I wrote this, the second half is because of the lessons I learned while in those jackets, and how they helped mold me into the person I am, today. While in my National Blue, and Corn Gold jackets I learned how to relay my thoughts, and make them into actual happenings. I learned the importance of eye contact, and a firm handshake. I learned how to deliver a speech, and how to work well with others, no matter our political, social, or economic position. FFA taught me what responsibility, and true hard work meant to others, and how to be a responsible hard working young adult. I learned the meaning of determination, and pride. The years have flown by since wearing my jackets, just as I was told they do. Being a livestock photographer, I spend much of my time traveling to and from events, spending an abundance of time with FFA Members, their parents, Ag Teachers, and their families. One thing stands true to this day, FFA molds and opens doors for each individual in an Agriculture Education Course to reach their full potential, and even more. If it were not for the FFA Association, I would not be where I am today. Living out my dreams of giving back to the members, teachers, and families of an Association that made me who I am.

Happy National FFA Week!



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