Pride for What We Do…

Everyone joins and loves FFA for different reasons. Some join because of their passion for agriculture, some because of their passion for leadership, others for travel opportunities, and some for chances to breakthrough insecurities and push themselves. Each reason for joining is beautiful and what makes Oregon FFA’s membership so diverse and empowering. As members discover different elements of FFA, each develops pride for the organization. No matter what the reason one joins FFA, almost any graduating member can tell you that the passion and pride they developed in themselves and FFA will be something they carry forever.

Over the past month, us state officers had the opportunity to be part of and witness the power that comes from members’ passions. From each interaction, we left more empowered and humbled to work with such amazing members. So with this blog post, we figured we would take a moment to highlight some of our experiences and the pride members displayed.  

1Throughout the past month, we have seen many members show immense pride. Sundee described Roby Young’s sense of pride for service and hard work describing, “Roby Young, senior at Adrian High School will be showing her steer proudly at the Malheur County Fair in August. The theme for the fair is “pride nationwide.” Roby works as a lifeguard, she rodeos, raises dogs, and will be showing her second beef project at this year’s county fair. She can always take pride in the fact that she is always learning and always improving her skills whether she’s on a horse, saving lives, or working with her steer.” Roby wasn’t the only member who showed pride. Dylan was inspired by Kekoa from the Henley FFA Chapter. He said, I first met Kekoa at Southern Oregon’s District Leadership Camp and I was lucky enough to have her in my Vice President’s group. Kekoa and I built a friendship over the course of camp, and by the end she felt inclined to share with me her pride in our organization. She first explained how her entire chapter officer team was brand new to office this year. “It’s like a renewal for Henley FFA,” Kekoa expressed. While nervous for the future and responsibility of improving the chapter, she was up to the challenge. “I’m ready for what’s to come and know that my team and I will tackle any challenge full on,” she said. I felt absolute confidence in her abilities, and know that with pride that strong, Henley FFA is in good hands with members like Kekoa serving as chapter officers. I look forward to seeing how Henley prospers over the next year!” No matter where they are from, each member we have interacted with has rekindled our pride for serving FFA.

At Southern Oregon’s Leadership Camp, we were able to meet and interact with the National FFA President, Breanna Holbert. Members from Southern Oregon described their experiences with Bre, discussing how kind and genuine she was. Halie Bowman from Phoenix FFA said, “Getting to meet the National President Bre is something I will never forget, even though I didn’t get to talk with her that much the time that I did was awesome, She was so nice and sweet and her personality is amazing, she’s also a pretty awesome rapper, getting to listen to some of her stories was pretty great also. Overall my last district leadership was one for the books with the state officer team and Bre.” Molly Lync from  Rogue River said, “Bre and I talked a lot about how we both want to go into Ag Education and impact urban areas that do not have FFA programs yet, so that way we can reach as many people as possible and give those students opportunities that they were yet to be offered.” Bradyn Tillman from Henley said “Bre encouraged us to work as a team and commit to our chapters. She taught us that differences in each group were something to value and that makes our chapters stronger as a team and as individuals. My chapter is already more strong from the activities we learned at camp thanks to the state officers and our national president.” Obviously from members experiences with Bre, she shows pride in interacting with members and we are so grateful for her example and leadership.  

2The thing about pride is that it is self-created. No one is forcing members to wake up early and care for an animal, study for a CDE, or dedicate themselves in school, but somehow through this organization they choose to show pride without needing recognition. It is amazing as state officers to see how dedicated and passionate Oregon FFA’s members are. The pride members show inspires us to show pride for meaningful interactions and pride for agriculture. We are excited to continue our journey forward with you all as we individually add pride to the Oregon FFA Association.   

Dive Right In

If you would have told me a year ago that the final months of my Senior Year were going to be spent writing workshops, attending leadership camps, and traveling all across the state of Oregon, I would have thought you were crazy. Fast forward after elections and here I am with more than a couple absences on my attendance and a respectable amount of tools under my belt. These last 30 days have been filled with excitement, hard work, stress, and most of all, leadership. Leadership in the eyes of my teammates and leadership in the eyes of members.

District Officer Training & State Executive Meeting – As State Officers, we experienced our very first interaction with Oregon FFA members. From making low-quality videos with high-quality actors to hearing their opinions on the issues our organization faces, ODOT proved to be a huge success. At the April State Executive meeting, we learned our first lesson: Always stand up for what you believe in. Since being elected we have become the face of Oregon FFA, but this does not mean we can’t have opinions. When something happens that you feel passionate about, let that passion show and encourage others to formulate an opinion, even if it differs from your own.

Central Oregon District Leadership Camp – Before we get in to the actual camp experience, let’s break down the days leading up to camp. Late nights, early mornings, and an unusually large amount of time went in to preparing for our first camp. Doing everything in our power to make sure camp went without a hitch meant scavenging multiple stores across Bend for supplies, getting an average amount of four hours of sleep, and spending time in an elementary school printing off anything and everything we could think of for camp. Skip ahead to camp and we felt ready! That is, until we forgot a box of workshop supplies in La Pine (oops). Our very first leadership camp as State Officers taught us the importance of our words. We were given specific time with our groups to teach these new officers skills that will last far longer than just one year of service. What we say can either take a person to new heights or drag a person lower than ever before, so be wise in the pursuit of speaking.

Ag Fest – Being from Hermiston, I’ve never had the opportunity to attend Oregon State Fair before. While Ag Fest is a completely different event, I did get to spend some time getting familiar with the fairgrounds. Ag Fest allowed our team to truly advocate for agriculture to a general public that has little to no experience in the vast field (pun intended). Ag Fest provides FREE pony rides, a chance to take home numerous agriculture projects to cultivate back in your neck of the woods, and even hosts the largest alpaca show west of the Mississippi (yes, you read that right). Ag Fest taught our team the importance of knowledge. If someone were to come up to you and say negative things about agriculture, it’s important to know the facts and how to communicate them. Although it isn’t always ideal, often times we as FFA members are the ones that are responsible to change the public’s negative perceptions on the industry we know and love – so use your power well.

Base Camp Training – A week at the beach is my dream vacation. Feet in the sand, the salt-water air all around me, the infinite horizon looming for what seems like forever. This week at the beach, however, was spent learning communication skills, effective leadership learning styles, and creating workshops that will leave a lasting impression on members. Thanks to our facilitator Nessie, we had a blast while learning. At Base Camp, our team developed many ideas and decisions that will best fit our position and the association we have been entrusted to serve. A lesson we learned at Base Camp is this: Always give it your all. If you can put your whole heart into something, it can never turn out wrong. Make decisions for the better of everyone and your choices will always turn out right in the end.

CDE Days – Career Development Events are an amazing way for members to showcase their skills by participating in what they love. Whether that passion be in poultry, communications, or mechanics, there is a place for everyone. While members spent time practicing their events, we got to practice three words that we’ll never forget: catcher, thrower, holder. Preparing for the awards ceremony might have been tedious, but proved instrumental in the success of our performance. Those hours taught us not to give up. We may have been tired, sick of reading the same script over and over, but that endurance and persistence was key to an outcome we could be proud of. Never give in, there is always a light at the end of a dark tunnel.

This last month has been a whirlwind of emotions, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Oregon FFA, thank you for this opportunity that continues to grow into a year-long journey that will never be forgotten. I cannot hold back my excitement in seeing what’s in store for the time to come.

 

Forever Blue,

Dylan J. Westfall

Oregon FFA State Vice President

 

 

 

 

 

The Adventure Begins

What do you see?

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Take a look at these six items.


Without contexts, these random items appear relatively meaningless. But take a look at the stories connected with them:

Dylan’s plushie: Dylan has a rather large collection of Webkinz – 57 in total. Going to Alive & Well Shoppe every weekend to buy a new stuffed friend with his twin sister and dad was something to look forward to. These taught him responsibility by keeping his Online Webkinz happy and healthy, and showed him the meaning of loyalty and friendship.

Sundee’s flower: Sundee describes herself as a total flower person, she especially loves white daisies! She’s always loved daisies because they remind her of her favorite place, Kilgore, Idaho, a tiny town near the border of Montana and Idaho where they grew by the billions in beautiful meadows outlined with large pines and shadowed by breathtaking snow covered purple mountains. When she was little she spent much of her time up near Kilgore with her family while they worked and checked their cattle on a ranch. Many of her childhood memories took place there; fishing, branding and long car rides with her younger sister Sadey, and spending time with cousins, just to name a few. As she’s grown up, her days traveling Oregon have taken over the days she spent in Eastern Idaho. Nevertheless, she is often reminded of that special place, family, and memories that are dear to her heart when she sees white daisies.

Andrew’s Drum: Native American history has been deeply woven into Andrew’s childhood. This Drum was a birthday present from his father, who attends an antler exposition outside of Oregon to sell his deer and elk jewelry during Andrew’s birthday in May. For him, it represents love that his family has for him even when they aren’t present and the connectedness that can be felt during Native American drumming festivals and ceremonies. It also represents his belief that everyone walks to the beat of their own drum.

Mackenzie’s Craft Hand: For the past two years, Mackenzie has volunteered in a Special Education class. This was one craft she made with students. For her, each day is different, some are hard and some fun, but all days are rewarding as she follows her passion for helping disabled children. She explains that the hand reminds her of the students she has worked with and their potential. For her, the kids teach her much more than she thinks she teaches them, explaining that a child with special needs will inspire you to be a special kind of person.

Devin’s glove: Devin has played football for almost his whole life. This left handed football glove symbolizes not only Devin’s love for football, but one of his biggest setbacks. His senior season fell short due to a shoulder injury leading to surgery on his left shoulder. After his last fully healthy, winning football game, he was left only with his left glove. His love for football has been around forever, but this glove reminds him that there are bigger things in life than football.

Holly’s bigfoot: Holly has always had a passion for the outdoors that has been sparked by her father, Randy. When her dad started his research on Sasquatch, Holly was very curious about the subject. From the factual evidence, to stories and even expeditions, Holly has had her fair share of Bigfoot conversations. She enjoys the thought of something out there that we just haven’t quite found yet, and the light that she sees in her father’s eyes when he talks about his Sasquatch research.

Seeing a plastic flower, glove, or stuffed animal at a glance might not have much of an impact on somebody. In fact, we probably have all had interactions with extremely similar items at a sports store, shopping center, or toy retailer. But if we take a deeper look at one, suddenly those seemingly insignificant items now have a story, meaning, and person behind them.

A story that we can understand.

A meaning that we can relate to.

A person that we can connect with.


Right from the Start

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One at a time, six individuals collapsed on an RV couch and were met by their parents, siblings, and advisors. But there was little time for celebration; we were soon met by a journalist who asked us a simple question:

     “What inspired you to run for this leadership position?”

Although we come from different corners of the state and completely different backgrounds, there was a commonality: individuals saw potential within us, even when we didn’t see it in ourselves. They could See the One.

These individuals then took it one step further: they acted upon their vision of our potential. They took it upon themselves to be a leader and inspire greatness in us. They chose to Be the One.

It would be thought-over and processed more at the next week’s training, our team had the components of our mission statement decided within the first 30 minutes of election:

See the One. Be the One.


Reality

Two days later the team met at Oregon State University just before 10:00 am. The next four days would be filled with bonding, training, heartfelt advice, and a pile of handouts outlining the history, purpose, and structure of FFA. On Thursday, the team learned all about Oregon agriculture. The panel must have sensed our confusion at some point; Mr. Brian Field, President of Harvest Capital Company and Treasurer of the Oregon FFA Foundation said: “Be inquisitive”. He, along with Mike Coon, a fifth-generation farmer, and Jordyn Coon, a Marketing Communications Lead for Syngenta, encouraged our team to ask questions. During this discussion, Mackenzie made the comment:

“No agriculturalist wants to intentionally harm the land.”

Farmers and ranchers are stewards of the land. They care for it to the best of their ability and use cutting edge technology to efficiently produce agricultural products.

If our team can communicate effectively what agriculturalists do to provide food and fiber, then we can do our small part to bridge the information gap between farm to table.

Our second discussion was dedicated to learning about FFA Alumni. These individuals diligently support FFA, promote agricultural education, and do their part to ensure a bright future for generations to come. The FFA Alumni is an organization composed of both former FFA members and FFA supporters alike. The FFA Alumni earns funding, develops relationships in our communities, and spreads the word of agriculturalists today. During the discussion, Swede Salo, President of the Oregon FFA Alumni said: “We want to be behind the scenes”. The Alumni’s willingness to work without the expectation of attention is a true model of servant leadership.

The third panel discussion was where we were fed the information we needed to do our job as State Officers. We talked about how we act, how we dress, and how we talk. We were told that the panel facing us would be our biggest supporters, but also our biggest critics. Regardless of whether we are wearing a corduroy jacket or not, we were encouraged to model the expectations of the organization and uphold the values that they carry.

Throughout the training, we began to gather a perception of what our next year was going to look like. Leadership camps, scripts, speeches, meetings, tours, business and industry tours, and tons of workshops; all for the purpose of serving FFA members and advocating for agriculture. We also began to understand and connect with each other more, whether it be through a campus scavenger hunter, dying Easter Eggs, or having some facemask bonding time. This brings me to my next point:



All over the Map

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Take a look at this map.

map

As you can see, the team is from all across the map. This gives us a broad range of perspectives when it comes to community, agriculture, and yes, climate. (Fun Fact: Sundee actually lives in a different time zone!)

However, that’s only the start of our diversities.

Devin: Devin has lived in Canby, Oregon his whole life on the same five acres. He lives just outside city limits with his small farm. On his farm he has goats, llamas, chickens, and ducks. All his life he has been surrounded by animals and agriculture. In his spare time Devin went to Canby high school and was involved in football, swimming, track, and 4-H.

Sundee: Sundee lived in Homedale, Idaho until she was six and then moved just across the state line to a very small and rural town called Adrian. Here her and her family own a feedlot, farm, and ranch beef cattle. Sundee spent many summers weeding onion and bean fields and spent her winters calving out the cows. She loves advocating for agriculture because she understands first hand how great of an industry it is. Some of Sundee’s hobbies include, teaching tap dance to young girls, showing cattle, fishing, boating, basketball, and volleyball.

Andrew: Andrew has lived his whole life surrounded by large pine trees in an unincorporated community named Trail. Although he doesn’t have a background in agricultural production, he has raised five market hogs and secured an unpaid internship at his local florist over the course of high school.

Holly: Holly has lived in the same house all her life in rural La Pine. She’s grown up with horses, is extremely involved in OHSET, and has been showing horses since she was six-years-old. On top of that, she’s also raised goats and rabbits.

Dylan: Dylan has lived in Hermiston his entire life. He had little knowledge of agriculture before he entered high school, and he joined FFA his Sophomore year of high school. Dylan has partaken in a variety of activities, from drama productions to outdoor club activities in his hometown.

Mackenzie: Living in Oakland since she was 4, Mackenzie has attended Sutherlin schools since kindergarten. Although she lives in a fairly rural area, she didn’t grow up with an agriculture background (although she does live across the street from a cow pasture).

Our diverse backgrounds are what makes this team strong. It is our differences that will ultimately contribute to a stable foundation for the next year. Each of us are unique and bring different skill to the table. Take a look at our strengths:

Devin

Relator  Futuristic  Harmony

Discipline  Responsibility

Sundee

Harmony  Achiever  Includer

Belief   Connectedness

Holly

Woo    Positivity    Empathy

Activator   Communication

Andrew

Positivity  Includer   Restorative

Futuristic    Adaptability

Dylan

Communication    Includer     Woo

 Competition     Input

Mackenzie

Communication     Woo      Belief

Achiever     Developer

According to Breanna Holbert, National FFA President, “Comparison is the thief of that ability to serve and the ability to have/give joy to others. By taking ownership of what makes us who we are and to grow who we are, we must take ownership of our actions and remain grounded in the things that have developed our character.”

Recognizing our diverse skill set is essential to being an effective team. Over the next year, we will face situations that test our talents and skills. But if we utilize our diverse skills, we can accomplish our mission to the best of our ability.

See the One, Be the One.

Our team is incredibly excited for the next year, and we hope to have the opportunity to connect with all of you through this adventure.