Enthusiastic youth sporting their blue FFA jackets are descending this week on Twin Falls en masse for the 2014 State Leadership Conference.
Reflecting on their tenure, outgoing state officers said they spent the last year building their own skills and abilities and those of chapter members across Idaho.
It was like a “fast-paced skill ride,” said FFA President Brett Wilder, a freshman majoring in ag and natural resources education at the University of Idaho.
The year was filled with a lot of different emotions for FFA Secretary Alyssa Stastny, a sophomore majoring in horticulture at BYU-Idaho.
It “was a great opportunity for each of us to grow as individuals. We were able to see what our strengths were and learn more about ourselves … and the value of service,” she said.
The officers were put in a lot of stressful situations, but it was “great,” she said.
“There’s no growth in a comfort zone and no comfort in a growth zone,” she said.
“It has been an unforgettable experience, from seeing members across the state grow and develop to the opportunities to gain more skills and broaden your knowledge of agriculture,” said Sentinel Kyle Nesbitt, a sophomore in ag education at the University of Idaho.
The year of training, studying, traveling, and networking allowed the officers to use their skills to grow the skills of FFA members and make an impact, said Treasurer McKenzie Forsberg, a freshman in bioveterinary and dairy science at Utah State University.
It also allowed the officers to see more of what’s going on in Idaho’s ag industry and gain a better understanding in order to advocate for that industry, she said.
The year was one of memories and service, and the experiences were important to help officers better serve the members, said Reporter Erin Shenk, a freshman at the University of Idaho pursuing a degree in ag education.
The experience was exciting and eventful with a lot of curve balls, but even those were a “blast,” said Vice President Daniel Heikkila, a sophomore majoring in Ag Education and Environmental Resources at the University of Idaho.
The experience taught him that team members have to continue to work on communication to be effective, he said.
The goal of officers is to bring a level of passion and share the experiences students can look forward to as FFA members, Wilder said.
The opportunities offered by FFA abound, the officers said.
It gives students a chance to learn more and advocate for agriculture and to gain skills they need to be successful in college and any career of their choice, Forsberg said.
FFA is a unique program that provides leadership skills people can apply to real life to help them grow and develop the skills they’ll need to be successful in college and beyond “when the bank of mom and dad runs out,” Shenk said.
It provides opportunities not offered anywhere else. It develops every person regardless of where they came from or where they want to go,” Wilder said.
In addition to leadership skills, it offers hands-on training for practical application. For example, his training earned him welding, veterinary technology and parliamentarian certifications, he said.
FFA offers supervised ag experience and teaches members things they can take with them the rest of their lives, Nesbitt said.
There are 4,000 members in Idaho and more than a half million nationwide, and they each have their own experience through the opportunities offered, he said.
“More than anything else, FFA truly gives them (members) a place to find themselves and how they are going to react in the world and find success,” Heikkila said.