Learning from hard working agriculturalists across the state during industry visits, fine tuning workshops for facilitation training in Corvallis, and standing in front of massive monuments in Washington D.C. for the State Officer Summit, have all left me asking “how?” It feels as though just yesterday I was an eighth grader trying on a faded corduroy jacket to now, somehow standing here? 

I realize that all of this has been made possible by those who have given me a ‘badge’ of sorts. While defined as, “a distinctive emblem worn as a mark of office, membership, achievement…,” I see this badge as an opportunity, depending on how you choose to use it.

Hiding behind our badge, stops our growth. We use it as a crutch rather than seeing it as a tool for discovering the true reach of our talents. As a leader, it separates us from others and weakens our impact.

When put towards good use, our badge allows us to learn responsibility, gain confidence, and most of all, remind us of the people who believe we are capable of great things.

Now, receiving a badge does not mean that you all of a sudden gain the knowledge or experience, I am finding that those are things gained through unending trial and error. Luckily events like being mistaken for a 12 year old (it happened more than once), accidentally taking an ATV trail to camp, and near death experiences in heels prove that some of the best laughter is found at the expense of our pride.

I know from experience that when someone believes in you, it allows you to believe in yourself. Never underestimate the power of giving someone a badge, because with that support they never see failure, only opportunity. 


Jessie Samarin, State Reporter