Would you celebrate the 20 years of a FFA chapter?
Truthfully……it never occurred to me to celebrate. It never even crossed my mind that 20 years were about to pass from the first time I dawned my blue jacket. THANKFULLY, it did occur to the current FFA members and their teacher/advisor, Mr. Martin. These young men and women planned, organized, decorated, cooked and made song lists for the first ever Meadville FFA Alumni/Supports Barnwarming. A dinner and dance to celebrate the past 20 years of the Meadville FFA.
Our evening began with a steak dinner. The students served ribeye, (cooked to our preference) with baked potatoes, rolls, salads, green beans and sweet corn. The students not only served the food, but also cooked most of it. After dinner, the Chapter President thanked everyone for coming, introduced the officer team and made a few remarks. He then handed the floor over to the first EVER Meadville FFA Chapter President.
Twenty years ago I had one goal and that was to be the first President of the Meadville FFA Chapter. My FFA career was shorter than most, but it did have a big impact on me. The FFA helped me to determine my career path for college, it instilled in me a drive to work hard and to set goals and it helped to lead me to where I am today; working side by side my father and husband on the family farm. So when it was time for those first official officer interviews, I was ready. I knew what I wanted and I was able to achieve yet another goal, being Meadville’s first FFA President.
Being give the floor, I had a chance to give a little back ground as to how the chapter came to be and also shared a bit about our first advisor, Mrs. Lichte – Courtney. From there it was time to get everyone else involved in the story telling. Walking though the crowd and calling on specific individuals, we had a wonderful exchange of stories, memories and a few laughs.
Some of the comments made reflected on what an impact our FFA chapter made on many of the alumni. Others were able to remember funny things that happened, like walking in to the theme music of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood at chapter banquet, or the video made of one of the members practicing reasons on fluffy bunnies as a way to break the tension while practicing for nationals. One parent commented that 1996 was the year that they moved to Meadville and that they were very pleased to see that there was a FFA chapter in place where their children would be attending school. My favorite comment of the night was from an alumnus who could not be in attendance, but wrote a lovely letter to be read by her sister.
Melissa wrote this, “When I left Meadville I thought I left agriculture – but then I realized that too few people who write agriculture policy come from a small town. I get to use those skills to support farmers around the world with so little. I know I am better at my work because of what I learned 20 years ago. While I write this I am sitting in Nairobi Kenya and planning for a trip to go up to Somalia to build security by supporting the 85% of the population there that work in farming. I keep being drawn to supporting farmers because I know the dignity and pride that comes from a good harvest. I am proud of Meadville because it granted me with an unparalleled education, not only in technical knowledge, but also in how to value those things in life that only come from hard work. I like agriculture because even in the toughest of places it is inherently hopeful. I can trace all of this back to FFA.”
After all of the commenting and a few more thank yous, individuals stayed around to talk more, look at the chapter scrapbooks and do a bit of dancing. Being Barnwarming, the current members made sure that there was country music that multiple generations would enjoy. Some of the FFA members were also babysitting over at the school so that parents could enjoy the evening and not worry about care for their children.
The whole evening was above and beyond my expectations! I was thrilled to see many there who helped start the chapter and to see those who benefited from the chapter being started. Thank you to everyone who came, thank you to everyone who helped and thank you to the current Meadville FFA members who made it all happen!
One thing I will always remember as part of my FFA career was being handed our charter on the stage at state convention. My sister said this after the presentation, “She is not going to let that thing go”. After all of these years, I have not let go. I have not let go of what I learned, the confidence I gained, the dedicated it took, the memories made and the love I have for this organization. It may be just a piece of paper, but it is also so much more than that.
Now what? We celebrated 20 years. Do we wait for another 20 years to pass before we get together again? I for one hope not. I hope that this anniversary celebration is just the start of many more ways that Meadville FFA alumni can come together to celebrate the past, present and the future of our FFA. For this chapter belongs to those who made it possible, to those who were members and to those who are current members.
Blessings to you and to those who make up the National FF Organization,
Laurie – Country Link