For as long as I can remember, I have always disliked not knowing the answer to a question. In school I was always one of the first students to throw my hand into the air, even if I wasn’t really sure what the answer was, simply because I was dying to be the first person to say the right thing. Luckily, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized it’s ok to not be the first to throw out an answer, but that doesn’t mean I’ve grown to like not knowing the answer.
Flashforward to just a few days ago. I was sitting around a boardroom table alongside my teammates getting ready for an afternoon full of training to prepare for our first Business and Industry visits of the year. I had found myself getting more and more excited for these visits as they drew closer, but as we sat around that table and dove deeper into what types of facilities we’d be exploring and people we’d be meeting with, I realized how little I knew about parts of production agriculture. To be honest, I immediately felt embarrassed. I was worried I would look ridiculous if I had to ask a million questions I didn’t know the answers to.
But after spending days touring timber sites and speaking with pear producers, I realized two universal truths. The first is that it is always ok to not know the answer at first. What isn’t ok though, is holding yourself back from asking questions because you’re embarrassed you don’t know the answer. The second truth is that there could not be better people to answer questions than those who work in agriculture. The beauty of meeting with people who are so deeply invested in the industry is that they care for the work they do. They want to share their knowledge and to help others learn.
While I definitely still don’t know everything there is to know about agriculture, I can confidently say that I know more than I did a week ago. But the thing is, I wouldn’t if I had let my fear of not knowing the answer hold me back. More often than not, we find ourselves held back because of a fear of the unknown. But when we are willing to become beginners again, and surround ourselves with people who want to help us learn, we can always walk away knowing something we didn’t before.
Oregon FFA, we might not always know the answer, but we can always ask the question.
With much excitement,
2023-2024 Oregon FFA State Treasurer