By TERRELL WILLIAMS
For the Capital Press
TWIN FALLS, Idaho -- They are not just the next generation of Idaho farmers.
They're also tomorrow's leaders.
From 88 chapters in nine districts, about 1,500 FFA members from Bear Lake to Bonners Ferry attended the 81st Idaho Future Farmers of America State Leadership Conference April 11-14 at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls.
"Each year we continue to grow," state coordinator Jessie Kellogg said. "I think (the conference) is a great way for them to learn about different areas of the state, and a great way to make lots of new friends."
Dressed in traditional jackets of blue and corn-gold, with black shoes and slacks or skirts, the young men and women started their week Wednesday with registration and an evening show by cowboy poet Baxter Black.
Included were tours of CSI Aquaculture, Glanbia Foods Dairy Processing, Independent Meat, leadership farms and the CSI campus. Each day, one or two of the five retiring state officers gave a speech based on this year's conference theme, "Moment 2 Lead."
"We want our members to take every opportunity that's presented to them," outgoing president Jake Lake said of the theme's message. "Don't wait. Act now. Set goals. Make a plan of action, then do everything to achieve those goals."
Lake said he tries to sit down on a regular basis and write out his goals, which is a method he learned from FFA.
They are "SMART goals," he said, that are Specific, Measurable, Applicable, Realistic and Timely.
"We use that as a guide to make sure we are setting goals that can be accomplished," he said.
In his final speech as the 2011-12 president, Lake's topic was "Survive the Storm." Like the brilliant light of St. Elmo's Fire at the end of a storm, he said, there can be great rewards at the end of the storms of life.
Lake recalled how he was fed up with farming at his home in Burley, wondering, "How much rock picking and moving hand lines can a guy take?" He was rebellious and looking for a way out.
But then, FFA became his St. Elmo's Fire, and the rewards have been great.
"Storms are coming, but they will pass," he told the audience. "Use it to become a better person, to inspire others to 'Lead and Feed.' Your commitment to ag is just beginning."