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COLUMNISTS

FFA members are Unstoppable because they know how to persevere together

Joe Schlies
The 2019-2020 State FFA Officer Team take one last walk down memory lane as they pose for a picture in the main hallway of the Alliant Energy Center, home of the annual State FFA Convention.

Almost every business or organization has a vision statement. For the FFA, that is to “provide the next generation of leaders who will change the world.” The FFA’s vision signifies the power this one organization has because of its members. They are doers. They are go-getters. They simply get ‘er done.

Just over a month ago, Wisconsin FFA’s Online Convention came to a close as we once again celebrated the achievements of members and chapters from across the state for their never-ending positive impact they have on their communities. A continuous impact that transforms our members into the servant agriculturalists who will make the decades to come exciting for the world’s largest industry.

Without a doubt, the 91st year of Wisconsin FFA had a very untraditional ending and you could say the beginning of this new FFA year is in the same boat. However, the State FFA Officers were once again given the challenging task of figuring out the state theme – a message that would provide motivation to the over 21,000 members of our state association and epitomize who FFA members truly are. The 2020-2021 Wisconsin State FFA Theme is “Unstoppable.”

Like many, the past few months have felt abnormal. What could have FFA members seen in front of them? Fear. What have FFA members seen in front of them? Opportunity. Our team wanted a message that would resemble the prosperity of our organization and its members even during the most challenging times. One that would align with the FFA vision. As we look back on the legacies made and now into the future, we believe we have found the one word that has helped ensure the future of agriculture is bright.

“Impossible to stop or prevent.” That right there, ladies and gentlemen, is the dictionary definition of unstoppable. We believe the only thing that is impossible to stop are FFA members. And it all starts with action. Agriculturalists initiate action and FFA members do just that because they have the will to make change in this world.

This July, members of the Arcadia FFA partnered with the Farm Bureau to sell milkshakes in their community. Funds raised support the FFA chapter to engage in leadership workshops, conventions, and service events throughout the year.

Members across our state are continuously finding needs to fill in their communities, setting goals to fill those needs, and creating various service events to accomplish those goals. Whether it is hosting a dairy products drive-thru or food drive or volunteering at a homeless shelter or food bank, or engaging in an Adopt-A-Highway program, FFA members all across the state are initiating action by living to serve.

And just like any agriculturalist, our members continue to set goals and explore new horizons for the future of agriculture through their Supervised Agricultural Experience. This hands-on learning allows members to prepare for a future career and discover new practices within their field of interest. If there is a goal to be reached, FFA members will accomplish it. FFA members are Unstoppable because they know how to initiate action.

Agriculturalists persevere even when success may not be in sight and FFA members do just that because they have the grit to make change in this world. As the uncommon months have passed, members could have lost hope for the future of FFA. But we have yet to find one who has.

Just like the agriculture community is unified together, the FFA and its members are too. We understand the value in unity because we know agricultural pursuits are “pleasant as well as challenging.” Our ability to come together as one allows us to become diligent in our labor and take on anything in our path. That same diligence has been handed down by the agriculturalists who have spent their entire life in the industry. And that same diligence is what develops the character and courage that will be in our members for the rest of their life. FFA members are Unstoppable because they know how to persevere together.

Big Foot FFA members educate younger students about the different agriscience pathways at their Agriscience Camp held each summer. Agriscience research allows members to solve complex problems related to agriculture, food, and natural resources.

Agriculturalists constantly seek progress and FFA members do just that because they have the tenacity to make change in this world. FFA members continue to advance not only themselves but our industry. They know what progress looks like and the success that can come from it. At the same time though, they know that progress never comes easy.

As students wearing the blue and gold jackets compete in Leadership and Career Development Events or attend conventions and conferences, young people are gaining an inborn fondness for the agricultural industry and a constant hunger for personal growth. FFA members are Unstoppable because they know how to keep growing.

It is the wisdom and knowledge passed down from generations and generations of agriculturalists that have cultivated the present agriculture industry. Those same agriculturalists who had and continue to have the will, the grit, and the tenacity to make change in the world have instilled in FFA members those same qualities. Nothing has stopped the continuation of Wisconsin agriculture and Wisconsin FFA’s rich legacy, and don’t plan on it happening anytime soon because FFA members continue exploring and becoming more progressive, unified, and diligent. They are the next generation of leaders who are Unstoppable.

One may have never thought a single word could have so much meaning. It’s a word that may mean different things to different people, but I think it’s safe to say this year’s theme clearly defines FFA members, alumni and supporters, our agricultural community, and the industry as a whole. Together we will change the world because we are “Unstoppable.”

Wisconsin State FFA President Joe Schlies

Joe Schlies is the 2020-21 state president of the Wisconsin Association of FFA