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As we wind down this busy holiday season, I can’t help but reflect on the many events that Wisconsin FFA members have participated in throughout the past month.

Local chapters across the state have been hosting holiday parties, serving their communities, and organizing events to give back. My teammates and I have been able to attend parents’ night events, cookie decorating events, roller skating meetings, made ornaments at retirement homes, made pizzas with kids and Santa, and collected presents for families in chapters’ communities.

These various events were all planned by FFA members. A common theme among many of these events is that they give back to the community in one way or another.

However, giving back to our community can sometimes get tricky – too many people trying to do different things, not enough hours in the day, too many prior personal commitments. I run into many of these problems, too, but it always amazes me how FFA chapters can impact their communities so much, especially during the holiday season. Below are a few tips that I’ve picked up from Wisconsin FFA members on how to get involved in your community.

1. Partner with organizations in your community that already work towards certain causes.

Whether it’s your local FFA chapter, Kiwanis, Rotary, or Lions’ club, the Parent Teacher Association at your local school, or FFA alumni, there are networks of people looking to make a difference. If they are already hosting an event or drive, get involved with them.

2. Every little bit helps. Even if you do not have a lot of time, spending half an hour volunteering one afternoon is still worthwhile. The other volunteers will be excited to have help, for however long it happens to be.

Find things that you are passionate about, so that it seems less like “work.” Whether it’s volunteering to coach a livestock judging team, working with kids, or working at the food pantry, you can contribute something unique and valuable.

3.  Tie it back to agriculture. After all, everybody eats. Being involved in agriculture, I especially like volunteering at and planning events that increase agricultural literacy.

Coordinate with the food pantry to teach people where their food comes from. Read a book about farming to a local class. Start conversations with others about food and agriculture while you’re volunteering at different events. These are all ways that you can tie together agriculture and your community.

4.  Have fun! Giving back to your community can be fun, rewarding, and make a difference. Don’t get caught up in the details or in comparing yourself to others in your community.

Whatever you can give is worthwhile and should be a fun experience. Take friends and family with you to volunteer. Make it an annual event that people look forward to.

While these are just a few ideas we have gathered while meeting FFA members during this holiday season, they truly can be applied year-round.

In 2019, find a way to get involved in your community, learn more about FFA, and continue sharing the message of agriculture – because agriculture is a message that is worth sharing.

To learn more about what Wisconsin FFA members are doing to build their communities while growing themselves as leaders and strengthening agriculture, visit www.wisconsinffa.org.

On behalf of all of us at Wisconsin FFA, have a very happy holidays! Thank you for all that you do for Wisconsin agriculture all year round.

Hayden is the president of the Wisconsin FFA officer team.

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