This year, I had the honor of covering the National FFA Convention for the first time — and I can’t emphasize enough how impressed I was by the young men and women in the organization.

At the opening luncheon, I was sitting at a table with students from Georgia, North Carolina, Texas and several other states. As we ate, a hot-button topic came up: whether girls should have the choice to wear pants as part of their official FFA formal wear.

Every student had a different opinion. Some said that tradition was best and skirts were the way to go. Others said that it was only fair that women have their choice of outfits.

I was amazed by the kind, diplomatic manner in which they shared their points of view. No one got angry, no one argued.

They remained level-headed and respectful at all times. They handled the conversation with more grace than most adults would.

Other interactions like this followed me throughout the convention. I left with a renewed hope that these respectful, intelligent students would one day run our country.

My high school didn’t have an FFA chapter, and my first immersion in FFA culture was at this convention. It made me wish that I could have experienced the same education they are receiving.

These students aren’t just learning about agriculture. They’re learning about politics, debating skills, proper communication and how to be a professional.

Kudos to every FFA student putting in the hours to improve themselves and their community. In my humble opinion, you are leading our country in the right direction.

Erica Quinlan can be reached at 317-726-5391, ext. 4, or equinlan@agrinews-pubs.com. Follow her on Twitter at: @AgNews_Quinlan.

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