If you would have told me a year ago that the final months of my Senior Year were going to be spent writing workshops, attending leadership camps, and traveling all across the state of Oregon, I would have thought you were crazy. Fast forward after elections and here I am with more than a couple absences on my attendance and a respectable amount of tools under my belt. These last 30 days have been filled with excitement, hard work, stress, and most of all, leadership. Leadership in the eyes of my teammates and leadership in the eyes of members.
District Officer Training & State Executive Meeting – As State Officers, we experienced our very first interaction with Oregon FFA members. From making low-quality videos with high-quality actors to hearing their opinions on the issues our organization faces, ODOT proved to be a huge success. At the April State Executive meeting, we learned our first lesson: Always stand up for what you believe in. Since being elected we have become the face of Oregon FFA, but this does not mean we can’t have opinions. When something happens that you feel passionate about, let that passion show and encourage others to formulate an opinion, even if it differs from your own.
Central Oregon District Leadership Camp – Before we get in to the actual camp experience, let’s break down the days leading up to camp. Late nights, early mornings, and an unusually large amount of time went in to preparing for our first camp. Doing everything in our power to make sure camp went without a hitch meant scavenging multiple stores across Bend for supplies, getting an average amount of four hours of sleep, and spending time in an elementary school printing off anything and everything we could think of for camp. Skip ahead to camp and we felt ready! That is, until we forgot a box of workshop supplies in La Pine (oops). Our very first leadership camp as State Officers taught us the importance of our words. We were given specific time with our groups to teach these new officers skills that will last far longer than just one year of service. What we say can either take a person to new heights or drag a person lower than ever before, so be wise in the pursuit of speaking.
Ag Fest – Being from Hermiston, I’ve never had the opportunity to attend Oregon State Fair before. While Ag Fest is a completely different event, I did get to spend some time getting familiar with the fairgrounds. Ag Fest allowed our team to truly advocate for agriculture to a general public that has little to no experience in the vast field (pun intended). Ag Fest provides FREE pony rides, a chance to take home numerous agriculture projects to cultivate back in your neck of the woods, and even hosts the largest alpaca show west of the Mississippi (yes, you read that right). Ag Fest taught our team the importance of knowledge. If someone were to come up to you and say negative things about agriculture, it’s important to know the facts and how to communicate them. Although it isn’t always ideal, often times we as FFA members are the ones that are responsible to change the public’s negative perceptions on the industry we know and love – so use your power well.
Base Camp Training – A week at the beach is my dream vacation. Feet in the sand, the salt-water air all around me, the infinite horizon looming for what seems like forever. This week at the beach, however, was spent learning communication skills, effective leadership learning styles, and creating workshops that will leave a lasting impression on members. Thanks to our facilitator Nessie, we had a blast while learning. At Base Camp, our team developed many ideas and decisions that will best fit our position and the association we have been entrusted to serve. A lesson we learned at Base Camp is this: Always give it your all. If you can put your whole heart into something, it can never turn out wrong. Make decisions for the better of everyone and your choices will always turn out right in the end.
CDE Days – Career Development Events are an amazing way for members to showcase their skills by participating in what they love. Whether that passion be in poultry, communications, or mechanics, there is a place for everyone. While members spent time practicing their events, we got to practice three words that we’ll never forget: catcher, thrower, holder. Preparing for the awards ceremony might have been tedious, but proved instrumental in the success of our performance. Those hours taught us not to give up. We may have been tired, sick of reading the same script over and over, but that endurance and persistence was key to an outcome we could be proud of. Never give in, there is always a light at the end of a dark tunnel.
This last month has been a whirlwind of emotions, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Oregon FFA, thank you for this opportunity that continues to grow into a year-long journey that will never be forgotten. I cannot hold back my excitement in seeing what’s in store for the time to come.
Dylan J. Westfall
Oregon FFA State Vice President