It has been a busy month and a half for the six of us! Ever since we moved to Corvallis in early September, we’ve hit the road! Well, kind of. Starting out with Celilo and Jenna, I got the opportunity to visit four chapters virtually. After that, we went down to my home district and had the Umpqua District leadership camp! Between amazing skits that chapters performed, great connections made with people from my home district, and watching the current district officer rock their part at camp, it was great to be back home. Then we went back to Corvallis, where my teammate Alivia joined back up after recovering from surgery, and together, we have visited a bunch of chapters virtually, and have been teaching out of Strand Ag Hall at Oregon State University. We’re also conducting leadership camps virtually as an association and have been connecting with members from around the state for the past couple of weeks. Our team is currently living in the dorms at OSU and thriving on the cooler weather, with plenty of Starbucks & Target trips, late nights full of laughter, and memorable stories to tell. It’s been a lot of fun, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have five amazing teammates who are up to any challenge, adventure, or photo shoot (You get a lot of those when your teammates are all girls, by the way).

Right now, we’re getting ready to hit the halfway point in our year. And lately, a lot of people that I know have asked this question: “Isn’t it frustrating that your year isn’t going like you planned?”

And after five-ish months of being a state officer this year, I think I’ve got a pretty good answer.

Sure, there’s a few things that we sadly haven’t gotten, or going, to experience this year because of COVID-19: State Fair, traveling to Washington D.C., and going across the world to ILSSO. And I would agree, compared to state officer teams prior to us, it’s been a little disappointing to miss out on those experiences.

But it’s also been super exciting.

Oregon FFA has been more creative in interacting with people than we’ve ever been. With most schools being online, we’ve connected with students over Zoom and Google Meets, had lunches where members around the state can log on and hang out with us for an hour, and have been able to meet with business and industry members to advocate for agriculture, which has kept going strong in the world of COVID. Instead of looking at this as a setback, we’ve used this year as an opportunity to innovate new ideas to connect with people, get Oregon FFA  more connected with our chapters, and look at using our experiences in 2020 to set a precedent for Oregon FFA in a post-COVID world. I’ve been thankful for all of our State Staff, B&I partners, and ag teachers for being absolutely amazing with us so far this year and squeezing in every opportunity for us and all of the members.

You see, it’s easy for us as people to get frustrated when life does not go our way. We often see changes to our plans as setbacks, like they’re negative or harmful because they might affect our end result. Going into this year, I’m sure a lot of us have felt frustrated because we weren’t living our plans that we thought were going to happen. As someone who likes to make plans and live by those details, 2020 has thrown me for a loop. I’m telling you right now that my vision for our state office year in March was different than the year I’m living now, but instead of looking at it as a setback or a bummer, our team has used this opportunity to make our own imprint on this organization, and continue to connect with people, even if it looks different. 

There’s a lot of things we can still do, and we can continue to make an impact and find the positive things that are going on in our lives, because I promise you, there are good things happening. We just have to look past the negativity and frustration to find it. Like our virtual camp theme, know that our missions are possible and we can continue to make an impact wherever we go. 

So, in the end, I wouldn’t say that I’m frustrated with how this year is going. I’m genuinely excited and hopeful for us as we continue our journey as state officers. I have no idea what the rest of our year looks like, but to quote Babs Hoffman, “Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and enjoy the journey.” I also challenge you to be hopeful as well and to enjoy the journey we’re going through, because there’s only so much time we have to make an impact on our world and the people around us, and we should be more focused on the great things going on our lives to continue our journey rather than let the bad things hold us back.

In this crazy world that we call “2020,” stay positive, and utilize this time as an opportunity, not a setback. I’m excited to see where these next five-ish months take us.

Thinking analytically but living impulsively,

Colby J. Fairbairn

State Sentinel on the not-so-normal 2020-2021 Oregon FFA State Officer Team

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