FFA demonstrates the time is now

Ben Styer
At the FLW hosted in Adams-Friendship, Waupun FFA members pose with the State FFA Officer team and the highly sought after spirit award, a prize given to the chapter that demonstrates the most genuine interest, enthusiasm, and positive leadership throughout the evening.

As October draws to a close, “The Time Is Now” for the busy fall harvest, and one of the busiest, most thrilling times of the year for the State FFA Officer team is also complete. In late September, my teammates and I began our trek around Wisconsin leading ten Fall Leadership Workshops throughout the state. With at least two business and industry tours every morning and a day spent with FFA members at the World Dairy Expo during our first week, the last three weeks have been jam-packed, but it has been the ride of a lifetime!

These Fall Leadership Workshops (FLWs), historically referred to as Sectional Leadership Workshops, are a long standing tradition in our state that allow FFA members to connect with students from other chapters and develop leadership skills while having quite a bit of fun too. After an energetic opening session, attendees participated in three rounds of workshops focused on officer roles, FFA opportunities, and leadership skills before closing the night out with another lively session. Like any good FFA event, these FLWs featured dancing, cheering, and even a skit put on by the State FFA Officer team. Carrying on with tradition, my teammates and I also chose a workshop theme that guided the skit and workshop message. This year’s theme was “Come One, Come All!”

With ties to the circus, the phrase “Come One, Come All!” is likely something we have all heard and suggests that all FFA members should participate in FFA opportunities. Just as the circus celebrates performers’ skills, FFA is an organization that welcomes students along with their unique talents.

Analyzing the theme more though, it relates to events besides the circus as well. In a way, corn silage harvest on my family’s farm is a “Come One, Come All!” event. Nearly anyone and everyone on my family’s dairy farm plays a role in the harvest. From the chopper operator, to the truck drivers, pile packers, bunker coverers, cooks in the kitchen, and even the entertaining children riding along in the buddy seats, there is quite a crew of hardworking men and women putting in effort to harvest the cows’ feed. While there are bumps along the way, just as there are in a circus and in an FFA Chapter, everyone in our harvesting crew has qualities that keep the show moving along.

The first of these qualities is drive: the purpose behind our actions. For young Ben, my drive was being able to ride in the packing tractor with dad. Sitting back and relaxing from the buddy seat while watching truck drivers dump loads of silage was always a highlight of my day. For Knox, one of our truck drivers, he simply enjoys the days of driving. Being retired now, Knox likes getting back in the driver’s seat once in a while and seeing the process of harvesting corn silage from field to bunker. While Knox does not live on a farm, he cares about driving a silage truck and enjoys the process.

What drives FFA members? One force is in-person events such as FLWs. The camaraderie, memories made, and friendships formed are a driving force to keeping FFA members coming back to the show. These past three weeks have only solidified the fact that it is so good to be back in-person alongside incredible members.

Direction is another quality shown by the chopping crew. A team of people, whether that be a farm crew harvesting corn silage, a circus performing group, or an FFA chapter, needs a sense of direction in order to accomplish its goals. Whether chopping a field, driving a silage truck, or covering a silage pile with plastic, direction is needed in order to be successful. As we continue to transition to a more traditional FFA year, it is safe to say we could all use some direction from time to time. Between wise FFA advisors, helpful FFA alumni and supporters, and FFA officers on all levels, FFA sets students up for success. FFA has ample opportunities to network and meet people, but it is ultimately up to each individual if they will invest the work to create a connection.

This segues into the third quality demonstrated by the harvesting crew, diligence. Diligence is the hard work put in from early in the morning until late at night on long harvest days. The effort put in in the kitchen, spending a few hours cooking up delicious meals - that is diligence.

Hard work is absolutely necessary in achieving our goals. As a matter of fact, part of the vice president’s line in opening ceremonies reads, “Without labor, neither knowledge nor wisdom can accomplish much.” Fortunately though, FFA members are some of the most diligent young people I know. Whether it be studying parliamentary procedure for hours on end, working with an animal in preparation for a livestock show, developing an agriscience research project, or practicing a musical performance for the state choir or band, FFA members know how to work diligently!

Harvesting corn silage really does take a whole crew of people, but just like the circus, everyone brings something to the table. From young tractor passengers to retired truck drivers and chefs to chopper operators, there is value in differences. The same is true in FFA; no matter one’s background, there is a place in our organization for all! Through drive, direction, and diligence, FFA members can strive for success and aspire to be the next generation of leaders who will change the world. FFA members continue to demonstrate their drive, direction, and diligence by putting in effort now.

Many times in agriculture and FFA, we must invest effort before we see the end result. We plant corn in the spring in hopes of harvesting a bountiful crop of corn silage in the fall. Dairy farmers raise heifer calves for two years before that heifer has a calf and begins producing milk. Newly planted cranberry bogs mature for roughly four years before a good crop can be harvested. In FFA, we invest in students now, knowing that today’s FFA members will be our leaders, innovators, and advocates of the future. In return, FFA members indicate that the time is now by fully participating in FLWs, making a difference in their communities, and developing skills for the future.

The time is now to enjoy events such as Fall Leadership Workshops, to participate in the upcoming 94th National FFA Convention and Expo, and to invest in the future. My teammates and I recently announced that the 2021-2022 Wisconsin FFA theme is “The Time in Now.” The time is now to take advantage of every opportunity. The time is now to make someone else’s day. The time is now to live every day without regret because if not now, then when?

Ben Styer

Styer is the president of the Wisconsin FFA Officer team