Summer is here as we all have experienced having lived through all time high recorded temperatures in most places in the state. Summer has brought the kids home from school, in our district about a month later than normal. We just finished winter sports (basketball and wrestling) before the final bell. It is quite inspiring to see how many of the kids are resilient and kept their heads up through an unprecedented year. They will continue with there lives and tell their children and grandchildren about how they lived through a pandemic and school was conducted over the internet. By that time, it could be a completely normal process and the children will look at them like we look at our grandparents when they discuss not having phones and the great advent of the party line.
Summer has also ushered in the return of the county fair. I will admit that I was a sports kid, I spent my summers working on the farm and in the weight room getting ready for the upcoming football season. However, I now have a great appreciation for the kids involved in FFA and 4H. The commitment of kids to their animals and projects is every bit as deep and in many instances deeper than my commitment to Friday night lights. The lessons I learned playing ball and wrestling where valuable however, the life lessons the kids I know who are involved in FFA and 4H run much deeper.
I have seen first hand the speaking skills of a California district FFA officer who I enlisted to be a keynote speaker at a luncheon at the annual hop convention held in southern California that year. This young lady having never met me or having seen an actual living hop plant came and gave an overview of the career choices she and her fellow chapter members where choosing to pursue. This ranged from agriculture to medical to serving in the armed forces. They were all using the leadership and speaking skills learned in FFA to help secure places in their chosen fields.
The other great aspect of FFA and 4H is community involvement. I would be hard pressed to name an ag supplier or processor who does not support the programs. They all see the value that these programs bring to the kids and the community. It is a heartwarming opportunity to attend an auction or the county fair where the kids display their animals and projects and the community supports them, not only with encouragement but hard dollars. In many cases these animals help to pay some of the college tuition and get the kids moving in the right direction. In return these businesses know that any child dedicated enough to raising animals and plan for college will return to the community as great leaders.
With all that said I encourage everyone to go out and cheer on the school teams as we get back to school at the end of summer. But also remember to support those kids whose paths have lead them to a show ring with a steer or hog. Take time to attend a speaking competition or a debate. While the ball may not fly through the hoop, I guarantee you will leave just as impressed as if you just witnessed a three pointer at the buzzer to win the game.
Oregon Aglink President