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Life Lessons Abound For FFA Students

FFA organization continues to be training ground for agriculture's new leaders.

OK, so you are in a contest and you studied very hard. It was livestock judging and you wanted to place in the top five in the area and go to state so badly you could almost taste it!

But you didn't win. You didn't even place in the top 10.The judge in the sheep reasons stared at his text on his cell phone the whole time you were giving reasons. Is that why you lost?

You can react one of two ways if you're a high school student – resolve to come back and study harder next year and give it another shot. Or you can decide to throw in the towel and quit livestock judging. Heck, maybe you just quit ag altogether. After all, you're a failure and it's not fair that the judge wasn't even paying attention.

Choose the first alternative and you've just learned a valuable lesson about having the desire to try again and eventually achieve success, even if circumstances are stacked against you. Choose the second path and you're hurting no one but yourself. You're not hurting your advisors, the judge who will never give you a second thought – no one but you.

Either way, you learn a valuable lesson. Obviously if you take the first path it says a lot about your maturity and character. If you choose the second path, you've got a few more things to learn, and it likely won't be the last bump in the road, no matter which path you choose.

The beauty of it all is this lesson was learned, either way, in FFA, a valuable organization for training young leaders. For most people, more important things will happen in life later. But if you've had to face these types of decisions while participating in previous activities, you'll have a better handle how to make a good decision in real life, when the chips are down and what you do is for keeps.

In FFA you can make mistakes. While it may seem like the end of a world if you're a teenager, you haven't done permanent damage to the rest of your life. If you make the same mistake on the job when you're 25 or 35, there may be much more critical consequences.

This is why I still help coach FFA teams, even though I'm 60 years old, hardly an FFAer anymore. I like to advise kids when they're in situations which seem like life or death to them, and see if they can figure out the path that leads to the best resolution. All any coach can do is give them the tools and training. In the end, it's up to the student to make the right decision.

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