Small, 

Seemingly insignificant, 

Never-ending progress. 

This is what was posted on the conference room wall where the team had their first training. Catelyn, our leadership development coordinator, explained it to us like this: though the steps we take may be small at first, if we keep going, and stick to it, we can look back and be proud of our progress. But you can’t look back on what you have accomplished if you have never begun. Each stage of this year brought new and exciting things. 

Training has taught me preparation. When we first walked into the office, the idea of everything we would do was overwhelming. Questions and doubts whizzed around our heads with each new responsibility. Accomplishing them – feeling comfortable in these things, seemed out of reach. We put ourselves to work. Learning how to write workshops, memorizing board members… but all of it was just the beginning. 

District Leadership Camps taught me passion. It was time for the foundation we built to be put to the test.  Every ounce of preparation was worth it. Sharing excitement, laughter, and bits of inspiration lit a spark of purpose that has guided our way this year.

Leadership Tour taught me to value small moments. Your every day is their only day. Another piece of wisdom from Catelyn. Every day of Leadership tour was different, every day brought something new, and every day, I saw someone sharing a joke that got the entire class laughing, someone taking care of a classmate, asking how they could help, or talking about a project they were working on. I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything. 

Talking with businesses taught me about persistence. At almost every single business and industry visit, the community that exists in Oregon agriculture always found its way into the conversation. It is inspiring to witness the resilience and strong values of Oregon agriculturalists from the top of Eastern Oregon down to the Umpqua River. 

At State Convention, we will learn about ending well. You as members, us as state officers, and all of the sponsors, advisors, parents, and community members who come together to make it possible to be able to celebrate what everyone has done this year. 

We will continue to grow, try new things, compete, go to new places, talk to new people, and so on until we transform into people who can look back and be proud of the progress they have made. Our progress will start small, it may seem insignificant at first, but we will continue to grow into who we choose to become.  

 With love, 

Mary E. Thiel