*This article was written by a guest blogger. Sidany Hilburn, the Reporter for Quapaw FFA Chapter* My small FFA chapter in Quapaw, Oklahoma recently began accepting seventh grade students to enroll in agricultural education. The class is divided between seventh and eighth grade students, a class that was so unexpectedly large that some students found themselves sitting on the floor. The sight of younger members engaging in FFA is one of my favorite sights; I often find myself wandering the ag building before first hour when they are impatiently awaiting our Ag teacher. I was preparing for an event one day this week and had my FFA jacket in hand when I walked into the classroom. A seventh grade student looked at my jacket and said; “That is sooo ugly.” For the first time in my FFA career, I was speechless. All I could do was stare, but looking back, I regret not saying“If only you knew….”
If only you knew, my jacket isn’t just a jacket. My jacket is one thing I would save in a house fire. When I wear my jacket, it’s not like any common sports uniform. When I wear my jacket I’m working on things that I can take with me past high school, into the adult world, people skills, job resumes, and college applications, just to name a few. If only you knew FFA, is the only thing that gets me up at 3 o’clock in the morning to prepare for these great opportunities.
If only you knew about the memories I’ve made while wearing this jacket. From goofy times riding in the ag truck, competing at speech contests, and making it to the stage at state convention, when I wear my jacket, nothing but great things happen. If only you knew when I wear this jacket, I often find my safe haven.
If only this jacket could talk. It could tell you better than any person why the FFA is without debate, the greatest youth organization in the country. It could tell you all about lessons learned. One of the first ones I ever learned was that you will get called out by your fellow FFA members if the zipper on your jacket is sticking out, because it’s just common knowledge that “that is so not official!”. (If you’re new to the FFA, that was for you). My jacket could also tell you about the more serious lessons; one of my favorites is “If you’re going to be somewhere, be all there. Put all you have into what you love.” If my jacket could talk, it would tell you that I spend more time preparing for my CDE contests, that I am so passionate about, than I do working on homework. And I spend nearly equal amounts of time in the ag building as I do in my own home. If this jacket could talk, it would tell you about the life long friendships that were made from nothing but strangers. (Also known as, FFAmily, necessary shout out to y’all). My jacket could tell you that while I was wearing it, I came out of my shy stage, along with so many other FFA members. While wearing my jacket, I learned that true leaders don’t create followers; they create more leaders. My FFA jacket would definitely tell you that even though FFA goes on more trips than any other school organization, we seriously have the worst drivers, but hey, when you’re five minutes late for a contest, we own the roads. My jacket could tell you that if I’m not at school, I’m probably with the coolest people to ever live---FFA members. My jacket knows that all the things in all the pockets, that may look like random stuff to any other person, have a significant meaning, (excluding the occasional gum wrapper or receipt, of course.).
If only my FFA jacket could talk, it would tell you exactly why blue corduroy will ALWAYS be in style. But what everyone knows, is that when I unzip this jacket for the last time, it will be saturated with tears. But what will get you through that tough time is the fact that you may outgrow the jacket, but you’ll never outgrow the experience.
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