Who hasn’t driven up the driveway at least one time to find livestock standing in their front yard? But multiple times in one week can only lend itself to the family tradition of playing the blame game. It all starts with the question, “Who left the gate open?”
Typically, what follows is the inquiry into who was the last one in the barn, who didn’t secure the gate with the wire or why did you not even think to stand the gate up? Then there is the denial, denial, and denial phase. In the end it seems that somehow the livestock managed to escape on their own and were so smart they could repeat the process at least a couple of times in one week.
I am not a fan of the blame game. But when your children come home from school, well, different in the way they walk, talk and what interests them, I think it calls for placing responsibility directly on the shoulders of the culprit. Quite frankly, I blame the FFA. And here is a list of reasons why.
1. When you walk into a grocery store and find yourself shopping in the artisan cheese section because processed American cheeses are no longer “good enough,” I blame the FFA. You are guilty of expanding a child’s palate through the dairy foods contest.
2. When your child’s fashion sense is limited to two out of three t-shirts with the FFA logo, I blame the FFA. (For those of you with boys is could be all three.) The FFA is responsible of instilling pride of organization and agriculture in students to the point they just have to display it--often.
3. When your child, along with his/her friends, must run the old farm truck through mud in order to take part in their school’s National FFA Week “Muddy Truck Day,” I blame the FFA. By encouraging behavior that honors and values tradition, the FFA is surely at fault.
4. When your child makes you late to an appointment (in my case, the Governor’s Conference on Agriculture) because there is an FFA meeting they “can’t miss,” I blame the FFA. The idea of developing commitment in the next generation lies squarely on the FFA’s shoulders.
5. When you open your cabinets to find all the can goods gone, I blame the FFA. The idea of teaching the importance of supporting others in your community through a food drive can only be the FFA’s doing.
6. When all of your children’s college tuition will be paid to an agriculture college, I blame the FFA. The FFA is responsible for exposing students to careers in agriculture though classes, Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) and contest teams, which takes them and my money to an ag college.
My list could go on. Over the years, I have seen how the FFA develops young people. I have interviewed FFA members on their farms, sat with them at dinner, and laughed with them at a fair. They always amaze me. They are articulate, funny and passionate. And I blame the FFA.
The FFA is one high school organization that is so much more than just competition. It is about developing young people personally and professionally. High school agricultural education and the FFA provides classroom and extracurricular opportunities to help young people train for a career, develop leadership skills, and inspire community involvement.
However, unlike our family blame game, I do not believe the FFA-organization or advisors- will deny its impact on the lives of Missouri’s youth. And if the organization can continue to guide youth through the gates that lead to success in high school, love of tradition, passion for community and pride in agriculture, well, you can always leave them open.