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FFA members benefit from art of storytelling

Owen Coon
BRIGHT FUTURE: Owen Coon graduated from North Montgomery High School and will explore Lakeland College in 2018, after his year as an Indiana FFA state officer. He would love to return to the farm, but also has a passion for firefighting.
FFA Corner: Members learn best by talking to one another.

By Owen Coon

Sometimes telling a story is all you need to do. I’m set for life! In high school I responded to the nickname “Grandpa” more than I ever did Owen. My team refers to me as “Dad.” I have a knack for storytelling, and in my friends’ eyes, that makes me an old soul. Here’s the funny thing: I’ve learned that sometimes telling a story is all you need to do, but creating that story is the best thing you can do.

Some of my favorite stories weren’t so fun in the moment, but looking back at them, I realize I learned something. There was that time this year that our officer team went to a corn maze only to get absolutely soaked by rain. I learned that you can’t always trust the weather service.

I’d like to share how the Indiana FFA officer team has helped other FFA members create their own stories. My team has gone through a month’s worth of training, traveled out of state and within, lived at the state fair for longer than any sane person should, and visited schools in each FFA district, then attended every district kickoff. We’ve held five conferences, attended National FFA Convention, and begun our Business and Industry Visits. What’s important in all this is that we’re striving to help members create their own stories.

Spur of the moment
At our SOAR Conference, which stands for Seeking Opportunities and Achieving Results, I really enjoyed walking around the fireside chats that took place Friday night. It was amazing watching members laugh and carry on as they made new friends, ate s’mores and stayed up late. They had the chance to sit around the fire with their groups and relax. It didn’t matter where you were at the FFA center, you could hear laughter.

When Grant Sanchez and I visited Jennings County FFA, we had the longest class period of all our visits and had to fill extra time. With some quick thinking from Grant, we decided to make a human table. Four people sit in chairs and lie back on each other’s legs in the circle; then we remove the chairs, and they must stay in that position as long as they can. I know the extra effort on our part to come up with something made a lasting memory for those students.

Members from District 8 tell me how much fun they had when we all decided to break out into line dancing during the busiest day of the state fair. That day was a little more fun for them than it was for me. In the middle of “Good Time,” I came down wrong on my knee and had to go to the doctor. That doesn’t stop them from poking a little fun at me from time to time.

FFA is certainly about “Premier Leadership, Personal Growth and Career Success,” but let’s not forget the sheer fun, too. I hope my team and I can continue to help FFA members make memories. Whether at conferences, the fair, district kickoffs or in the classroom, everyone has a chance to develop their own tall tales. I want people we’re interacting with to remember what they’ve learned, and to tell all their friends about the times they’ve had. If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that we are always given opportunities to make our own memories. The fact that I have such a huge opportunity to shape those stories this year is what I love.

Coon is the 2017-18 Indiana Northern Region vice president.

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