A Compliment Worth Earning

Classroom visits to the agriculture education programs in our state always bring me new perspectives. Upon entering the Rainer Ag room and seeing the quote they had on their wall I was immediately taken back to a conversation I had with a gentleman at the Oregon State Fair.

This man approached me because of the FFA jacket I was wearing, saying it was a classic symbol of the few kids in my generation who understand agriculture and hard work that are left. This made me proud to be wearing the jacket, but the compliment about understanding agriculture and hard work was too easily given by the man and too easily accepted by me.

As agriculturalists in this national organization we worry a lot about what the general public assumes about us. We worry about constantly adapting to an everchanging world, fitting the picky market demands, and making sure that we are up to par in the values society wants everyone to fit. We spend so much effort and time trying to prove to the general public that we are keeping up with the times. Yet, keeping up with the times in a time where understanding agriculture and the value of hard work is quickly fading costs us preserving the assumption that us FFA members understand just that. In trying to maintain our presence in the world, sadly, we lose our purpose, our foundation, the identity that once fostered hard work, grit, leadership, and the true American Agriculturalist.

Has hard work, grit, leadership, and the true American Agriculturalist character been lost? Not yet. But in order earn this man’s complimentary assumption about kids who wear the FFA jacket we must understand one thing, we cannot stand behind the reputation of the FFA jacket, we must maintain the reputation of the FFA jacket that so many before us built up.

Though we can agree that in order to progress and keep up with the world that there is always work to be done in the FFA, we cannot forget about the actual work it takes to earn and uphold the most complimentary assumption, that we truly understand agriculture and hard work.

As FFA members it is our duty to stand up for agriculturalists, work hard to understand their way of life and advocate for it. We can come to understand their way of life by living it. Look for opportunities within and outside of our classrooms that give us a chance to experience life as an agriculturalist. And last, be aware of, understand, and engage yourself in the values and beliefs that your FFA jacket represents such as what we find in The FFA Creed. Read it, study it, LIVE it. The FFA Creed is pure corn gold. (;

After getting to know this man, he left me with a quote, the same quote I noticed in vinyl on the wall as I walked into Rainer’s Ag classroom. It is from Thomas Jefferson and reads,

“Agriculture is our wisest pursuit because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals and happiness.”

After pondering these words I can tell you that “real wealth”, is wealth that comes from an honest day of hard work, that “good morals” come from anything but our world, and that happiness is the feeling that comes from earning something. FFA members, let’s uphold earn one of the best compliments, that we understand agriculture and hard work.


Sundee Speelmon