At age 5, Jason Troendle's father gave him his first fishing pole and the two set out for a day on the banks.
He concentrated on his three-foot-long Snoopy fishing pole with matching Snoopy bobber and pulled in sunfish after sunfish. Not liking to touch anything slimy, Troendle would have his father take each fish off the line and then bait his hook for his next big catch.
"The day my dad gave me my first fishing pole, he epitomized love through not just words and encouragement but in his actions as he baited my hook over and over and removed everything I caught," he recalls. "As years have passed, I realize that lesson of love taught me that sharing love with those who surround me is a deep responsibility."
When his first day of fishing came to an end, Troendle's father told him that if he were going to fish in the future, he'd have to bait his own hook and remove his own fish. "It wasn't long before I learned that touching worms and fish wasn't horrible at all," he recalls. "I have learned so much through my love of fishing.
"Love and learning. Fishing helped to define two core values that would guide me through my journey of life."
This past weekend, Troendle took another step on his journey of life. As a conclusion to the 84th National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Troendle was elected National FFA secretary for 2011-12.
Joining Troendle to serve as national FFA officers for 2011-12 are Ryan W. Best of New Mexico as National FFA president, Kenneth D. Quick Jr. of New York as Eastern Region vice president, Alicia Hodnik of Wisconsin as Central Region vice president, Cain Thurmond of Georgia as Southern Region vice president and Seth Pratt of Idaho as Western Region vice president.
Originally from St. Charles, Troendle is currently a freshman at Bethel University majoring in economics and environmental studies. He is the son of Fred and Sandra Troendle and a member of the St. Charles High School FFA Chapter in St. Charles, led by advisors Craig Will and Willie Lubahn.
"Through FFA and agricultural education, I have been able to learn many things," he said. "I've learned it is vital to set short- and long-term goals that can guide me where I want to go and what I want to do. I've learned that doing the right things, being committed to myself and others and taking responsibility for my actions are the only ways I will succeed."For the next year, Troendle and his national officer peers will be the face and spirit of FFA. Collectively, they'll travel more than 100,000 miles throughout the country as they engage top leaders in business, government and education and lead a host of personal growth and leadership training seminars for FFA members. The team will also help set policies that will shape the future of the National FFA Organization and promote agricultural literacy in general.