National FFA President: Wearing the Blue Corduroy Jacket
Monday, December 1, 2014
Author: Andy Paul, 2014-15 National FFA President
It’s a show pig named Daisy - a pig that won more ribbons than ever before. It’s the agricultural sales CDE
- a chance to practice speaking skills and get out of my comfort zone. It’s one of my best friends, Jaky Cervantes - who always pushes me to be better, giving the best advice I could ask for. When asked the question, “What is the FFA
to me?” these are the first things that pop in my mind. The years in the blue corduroy jacket allow for opportunities for growth, success, humility, learning to overcome failure and love. The time wearing the FFA emblem allowed me to attend the 87th National FFA Convention and Expo, where I was blessed to be elected as the 2014-2015 National FFA President. The National FFA Organization is not just cows, sows and plows; we are leaders, job seekers and dream weavers.
I grew up in small town Lexington, Georgia. I lived the “one stoplight” life, where everyone knows everyone and absolutely nothing can beat your grandma’s fried okra and sweet tea. Perhaps the most defining characteristic of growing up for me was being involved in agriculture and the FFA. I began showing pigs when I was in the first grade, and what was originally just “a new pet,” quickly transformed into a passion for the swine industry. It was this love that got my entire family involved in the FFA. Because of our involvement with swine, my sister and I both grew up excited for the day we entered ninth grade and could take Mr. Robert Jackson’s or Mr. Travis Sertich’s basic agriculture class and join the FFA. My sister ultimately served as chapter president, along with several of my cousins and extended family serving as chapter presidents and vice presidents. Once I reached the ninth grade, joining the FFA was something that was expected of me, and I couldn’t wait to fill that role.
Things sure are different since I zipped up my first blue corduroy jacket. The officer positions have changed, and where I serve has evolved, but one thing remains constant: service. Any term of service is never about the position you hold. It is about the words on the back of the FFA jacket. This year, the back of my new jacket only has a gold FFA emblem surrounded by blue corduroy. I believe that no words on the back of an FFA jacket are symbolic for the opportunity my teammates and I have for this upcoming year. This year will have no limits. Nothing will stop us from doing our best to serve this organization, agriculture and the members that we represent.
I know that I am unbelievably blessed to be able to serve this organization, and that this year will present opportunities and challenges. But, I want to challenge everyone. Make one conversation a day about agriculture. Spread the importance of our nation’s largest industry to those on the farm, those in the city, in courthouses, in schools, and homes. We are the voice of this industry. Go All Out for agriculture!
Andy, from Lexington, Ga., is an agricultural education major at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. He was Georgia FFA president in 2013-14 and president and vice president of the Oglethorpe County FFA Chapter. At the 87th National FFA Convention & Expo, Andy was elected to the 2014-15 National FFA Officer Team as President. After graduation, he hopes to work as an educator or in public relations to fuel the passion for agriculture in those around him.