20/20 vision: The art of looking ahead

Collin Weltzien
Nearly 1,100 Wisconsin FFA members had the chance to develop their visions alongside their peers at the 212/360 Leadership Conference held in the Wisconsin Dells this fall.

2020. A year that rolls right off the tongue. The sweet sound of 2020 not only arises from its common use through past decades as some sort of benchmark representation of “the future.” It’s also a part of a common phrase we hear at the eye doctor’s office: 20/20 Vision.

Vision is the art of looking ahead- of thinking about the future with imagination and wisdom. I think it’s safe to say Wisconsin FFA and Wisconsin agriculture alike are no strangers to the value of having a vision. We at Wisconsin FFA work hard every day to bring the FFA Vision of “Growing Leaders,  Building Communities, and Strengthening Agriculture” to life. By the same token, any farm or agribusiness owner knows just how vital it is to maintain an innovative and forward-thinking vision. But where does this so-called vision come from? 

Visions deal with the future, but ironically enough, the only way to develop that vision is through reflecting on the past – in particular, past experiences. FFA members learn that first-hand. When FFA members hang up their blue corduroy jacket for the final time, their visions for the future are brighter than ever before, but that’s all thanks to the experiences they were a part of inside the jacket. Each experience provides FFA members with a new lens or perspective.

Agriculture classrooms stacked full of boxed fruit is a common scene for many Wisconsin FFA chapters in December as FFA members work hard to secure the resources to make their visions a reality. Thank you to everyone who supported these fundraisers!

Thousands of Wisconsin FFA members attended leadership workshops this past fall. Their visions are clearer because of it. FFA members from hundreds of chapters across Wisconsin just got done planning and facilitating their annual fruit sale, the main source of fundraising for their chapter. Their visions are clearer because of it. 47 FFA members just received a record-breaking $34,000 from the Wisconsin FFA Foundation in the form of SAE grants to help them start or grow their experiential learning projects. Their visions will be clearer because of it.

Thousands of Wisconsin FFA members will put their public speaking and career skills to work at Leadership and Career Development Events this spring. Their visions will be clearer because of it. That brings me to my next question: what do these visions look like?

Well, that’s where the FFA vision comes in. FFA members have visions for themselves as leaders. By the time they graduate high school, they are primed and ready for whatever their next step is, whether that be college or career. FFA members have visions for their communities because they know the merit of volunteering at community service events. Last but certainly not least, FFA members have a vision for agriculture. They understand the importance of the industry we all love, are confident its future is bright, and can’t wait to be a part of it.

Whether you are directly involved in agriculture or not, chances are you have a vision for the future too. Maybe it’s a vision for your career, a vision for your family, or a vision for your community. Whatever vision you may have, remember that a little self- reflection on your experiences from 2019 can go a long ways in making that vision clearer, brighter, and stronger for 2020. As the new year rumbles in, let’s all take a moment to reflect on where we’ve come from but perhaps even more importantly, take a look at where we’re going.

As always, if you wish to learn more about what Wisconsin FFA members are doing to build their communities while growing themselves as leaders and strengthening agriculture or how you can be a part of that vision, visit

On behalf of all of us at Wisconsin FFA, happy holidays! Thank you for everything you do to keep Wisconsin agriculture running on all cylinders.

Collin Weltzien

Weltzien is the president of the Wisconsin state FFA officer team