Open Letters

Open Letter to a Has Been

So you’re done. You have hung up your blue corduroy jacket for the last time. That weird jacket that your ag teacher made you wear as you quizzically asked, “What do you mean I have to wear a tie? I thought this was FFA not FBLA, we are supposed to be barn living country folk.” And she tells you that the jacket is required or you can’t go on the LDE trip. So you coincide because wearing a tie is better than going to school, and how many opportunities do you have to miss school. There is probably only one trip a semester.

Now the jacket is a keep sake, a precious memory and reminder of the short years you were a member of the FFA. But as one door closes another one is opening. Sure you may not have any more early mornings at the barn preparing for a stock show, or late nights of looking at cows before the big judging contest. But you still have the memories and more importantly the lessons you acquired through the years.

As you are preparing to enter a new chapter of life and head off to college, trade school, or get a Job, you armed with a set of tools only a former ag kid could have. Now, not all your knowledge that you have acquired will be applicable as you enter your new season of life. I have not once had a professor ask me what year the FFA was founded or what you look for in a dairy cow. Even though I could easily answer to them 1928, and you look for overall stoutness, with a large udder that is properly supported and a cow that does not lack dairy character. That kind of knowledge is not helping me in differential equations.

But what is helping me, is the drive and no quit attitude I developed through all those cold nights at the barn working with my stubborn hog. Because sometimes college is rougher than a defiant pig. Or my study habits that I have kindled through memorizing random FFA trivia and Farm Facts for that officer test, since some nights you find yourself in the library studying for the test you’re probably going to fail in a few hours. Or my high caliber interview skills that could only be a result of the countless award, officer, scholarship, and job interview competitions my Ag teacher coerced me into, because you are tired of eating ramen and REALLY need to get that job or internship. Or my ability to set SMART goals and achieve said goals because that’s what I had been doing as a chapter officer with our POA the past three years, and a plan is important since you are almost an adult and need to figure out some simple stuff like what you’re doing for the rest of your life. Or my ability to rise up and lead from well just about everything I have ever done in FFA, because a leaders is always needed especially in group projects. Or my willingness to try new things from the four years of my Ag teachers convincing/ signing me up for stuff without asking, finally I realized that new isn’t bad and it is worth it to try something neew and to take that risk.

Yes, you will miss those stock shows and countless judging trips and there is no stopping that. But you can always come back and visit, it won’t be the same but that’s a good thing.  Because those awkward freshmen you met in August still have three years left in this program, and the new chapter officer team you passed the gavel to last week is very green. So even though you may be in another town, or even another state, you can still advise and be there for those in blue. You can be the guiding hand and leader you have always been, because you are never too old to be a mentor.

Now the countless friends you have made through all those camps and conferences are still your friends after you remove the jacket. So link up and grow in community as y’all embark on a new chapter in life. There is a new “jacket” to wear, bigger “buckles” to win, and most importantly more people to positively influence.

So I challenge you to keep growing as a leader and continue being the awesome person you are, because yes your life is changing but it is changing for the better. Not only for you but for those that you will surround yourself with in the coming months. As always; make good choices, share if you like what I said, comment if you have something to add, and I will see you on Tuesday.


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