By Jessica Mars
If the gavel could talk, it would have many stories to tell. From the many laughs at a chapter meeting CDE practice to the nervousness of a chairperson during a chapter banquet, the gavel would have so much to say. It would be able to recite "Robert’s Rules of Order" and opening ceremonies, and it would most likely complain about being tapped a little too hard against the podium over and over.
FFA members across Indiana are pulling out gavels this spring as they rehearse for their end-of-year banquets. Chapters celebrate their members’ accomplishments, share a meal, install new officers and say goodbye to their graduating seniors.
Chance to observe
As state FFA officers, we have the opportunity to travel to many chapter banquets, thanks to the generous sponsorship of CountryMark. Many times we are the keynote speaker. It’s an amazing chance for us to share our message with students, families and supporters.
More importantly, it’s a chance for us to see other members shine while performing opening ceremonies, accepting awards and speaking to supporters.
During the spring of my senior year in the Lebanon FFA Chapter, I remember pulling out our gavel and setting it on the podium to get ready for my final banquet. If our gavel could talk, it would say how nervous I was — not because of the events of the evening, but because of what was to come in the future.
I was running for state office and had no idea if I would be attending Purdue University or moving to Trafalgar. While speaking in front of the crowd that evening was nerve-wracking, it was not nearly as bad because of the amazing individuals in attendance.
Thanks to my own family smiling at me, my fellow district officers who had driven long distances to see me, and those in my community who were always willing to help, my heart was filled with love and support.
If the gavel could talk, it would tell the story of one of the most bittersweet moments in any chapter banquet. It’s the moment when the retiring chairperson hands the gavel over to the next chairperson, officially turning the chapter over to the next generation of agricultural leaders.
The gavel would reveal how nervous but excited the new chairperson is to close out his or her first meeting. Different emotions are felt by each and every senior, as they hear closing ceremonies for the final time at their home chapter. At the end of the evening, the gavel is often placed into a box of paraphernalia and tucked safely away in the ag classroom.
If the gavel could talk, it would say how proud and excited my teammates and I are to see the next generation of ag leaders take the stage during their chapter banquets. We have complete trust in them because of the awesome things we’ve seen already this year.
Mars is the 2016-17 Indiana FFA president. She writes from Trafalgar.
Jessica Mars at a glance
Parents: Mike and Kristy Mars
Chapter: Lebanon FFA
Advisors: Stacy Hartley, Nikki Love and Cayla Mustin
SAE project: small-animal care, worked at boarding kennel
FFA activities: parliamentary procedure, dairy foods, chapter president, district secretary
Other activities: 10-year 4-H member
Education: will attend Purdue University and major in agribusiness management
Career: a position in marketing