This week, my teammates and I wrapped up Fall Tour! We’ve spent the last three months in virtual classrooms with students from all over Oregon. Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and Webex have become our best friends and we’ve developed a brand new set of skills centered around connecting virtually. 

In previous years, we would have spent Fall Tour traveling around the state, visiting students in classrooms, and shaking hundreds of hands. At first, I was disappointed about the lack of in-person connection. But, as I reflect on the last few months, I realize that my teammates and I never expected the growth we have encountered this year. Sure, our experience has been different, and quite frankly, unparalleled. However, it’s truly been nothing short of extraordinary. With brand new circumstances comes the opportunity to grow exponentially.

A quote has stuck with me throughout these past few months: “Like wildflowers, you must allow yourself to grow in all the places people never thought you would.” Read that again. 

Sitting in a classroom, surrounded by my computer, charger, water, snacks, and tour partner, I remember thinking to myself how much I wish I could be facilitating and meeting students in person. But, I realized that though this year has been wild, it has genuinely been beautiful, just like a patch of wildflowers. My teammates and I have learned how to engage students over a screen, build relationships through emails and direct messages, and make an impact while being miles away. Did we think we would grow in this way? Absolutely not. But each of us took on the role of a wildflower and allowed ourselves to flourish in every crack and crevice possible. 

Perhaps the most important wildflowers are not the original ones in the patch, but the ones that are influenced by the originals. As my teammates and I have grown this year, so too have members from every corner of Oregon. The most profound conversations I’ve had during tour involve the question, “What can we do better?” To answer the prompt as a wildflower, the response would be to continue the patch. Similarly, as a state officer, the response to our members is to continue the growth of ourselves and our chapters. Persist with virtual events. Include as many members as we can. Focus on flourishing. 

Do wildflowers know where they’ll end up? Certainly not. But they keep pushing and pursuing a bigger and more beautiful patch. We have the opportunity to do that too. This year has been one giant challenge, but I know we all have what it takes to create something beautiful. Keep persisting, leading, and growing in all of the places people never thought you would. I’m proud to be a wildflower, and I hope you are too! 

Happy Holidays! Stay safe and spend time with people you care about!

With bunches of love,

Jenna L. Wallace

2020-2021 Oregon FFA State Vice President