ANN BAILEY: FFA teaches important life skillsBoth times that I’ve judged the FFA District Leadership conference, I’ve left the competition feeling good about America’s outlook for the future. It’s in capable hands, judging by the youth I’ve met in the FFA contests.
When I was in high school, then as now, there were many choices of organizations to join; FHA, FFA, FBLA, letter winners club and drama club to name a few
What is different now is that clubs, such as FFA and FHA no longer are gender specific. When I was in school, boys joined the FFA and girls were in FHA. Becoming a member of FFA wasn’t even on my radar. Instead, as an FHA member, I was expected to help the FFA with the Holly Ball Christmas dance and to serve the annual FFA awards dinner.
Things are different these days. The former FHA now is known as Family Career and Business Leaders of America or FCBLA and both boys and girls are members. Meanwhile, the Future Farmers of America are simply known as FFA and girls belong to the organization.
I have encountered many situations over the years in which I have wished I would have been a member of FFA. Those times usually are either when I have been asked to speak at events or when I’ve had to conduct meetings. I’ve muddled through, but haven’t felt like I’ve done a very good job.
I would have an opportunity to do both if I had been in FFA, which would have made me more comfortable with the public speaking. At the same time, as a member, I would have learned parliamentary procedure.
A few years ago I judged extemporaneous and memorized speaking at an FFA District Leadership conference in Larimore, N.D. I was impressed with the FFA members in attendance even before the competition began.
The conference opened with young men and women conducting a meeting and introducing guests. The FFA officers were polite, efficient and organized. I’ve attended enough meetings whose officers have failed in at least one of those areas to appreciate the way the FFA officers handled their meeting.
After the meeting, the competition for the speeches were well-written and delivered with poise and confidence.
Poise and confidence also were exhibited by the contestants I judged in another FFA District leadership conference held a couple of weeks ago in Larimore, N.D. This time I helped judge a job interview competition. The competition was made up of filling out a job application, writing a job application letter and resume and “interviewing” for the job.
The contestants were required to apply for a job that really existed and to include on their resumes real work experience. Again, I was impressed by the FFA contestants.
They were neatly dressed for their job interviews, well-prepared for the questions and answered the questions thoughtfully and articulately. I know that I would have been intimidated about speaking in front of three adults, but they didn’t appear to be.
Not only did the aplomb with which they conducted themselves in the job interviews make an impression on me, but so did their job experience. The boys’ and girls’ work histories included jobs as a farm laborer, a certified nursing assistant and owner of a lawn mowing business. The FFAers appeared to be reliable and competent employees at their current jobs and I would definitely have hired them if I had really had an opening.
The girl who ran the lawn mowing business said she knew how to change and sharpen the lawnmower’s blades, changes the machines’ oil and oversees the two younger brothers who work for her. A boy, meanwhile, who worked at a farm which has a seed-cleaning operation was well-versed on the ins and outs of the business and the importance of using proper safety procedures on the job.
Another girl worked on her dad’s cattle ranch and owned a small cow-calf herd of her own. She fed the cows, helped pull calves and gave the animals vaccinations. She and the other five contestants obviously took their jobs seriously and worked hard to do their best. If had really been an employer, I would have appreciated their attitudes and considered them as prime job candidates.
Both times that I’ve judged the FFA District Leadership conference, I’ve left the competition feeling good about America’s outlook for the future. It’s in capable hands, judging by the youth I’ve met in the FFA contests.