December was full of learning, celebrating, ups, downs and a lot of growth. Throughout this last month, my team and I spent time exploring our new home of Indianapolis and dove deep into foundational training of National FFA office.
We intentionally took time to discover our goals for ourselves for this year and how we can utilize that knowledge to work together as a team.
In the beginning, it was tough. My state officer experience allowed me to see how different strengths can be brought together as a team, but the national level is a whole different ballgame.
My teammates aren’t from small towns across Illinois I have driven through before. They are from all over the nation and bring completely different backgrounds, experiences and talents to the table.
On top of that, we were all still trying to comprehend how in the world we got chosen to serve as national officers.
Although national office is not something I always had in mind to pursue, anyone that has ever worn the blue jacket knows how much of a wholehearted honor it is to serve as a leader at any level, especially having the opportunity to lead the entire organization for a whole year — crazy!
Nonetheless, my teammates and I had to help each other keep our feet on the ground and remind each other that this position isn’t about fame or popularity, but about how we serve the people that wear the same corduroy jacket as we do.
Although we are all very different, it has been a meaningful experience connecting with each of them and understanding why they deserve to be in this position.
When reflecting on my goals as an officer this year, I thought about all of my mentors that helped me become who I am today: my state officer teammate that constantly reminded me of the importance of adding value to others’ lives; my FFA adviser who always mentioned that it’s impossible to change the world, but if I tried I might just change the world for one person; and a past national officer mentor of mine who helped me develop my passion for the agriculture industry and understand the importance it truly has in this organization and the world.
It is my hope that these three topics will serve as my north star as I embark on this journey alongside five incredibly thoughtful and talented leaders.
After a long, but meaningful few weeks, we were given some home time during the holiday season, which refreshed my soul and warmed my heart in order to be ready for what’s to come next.
My team and I returned to Indianapolis on Jan. 2 to prepare for facilitation and keynote development. We are here to spread the message of FFA and agriculture, and this training helps us define what it looks like for each of us and how to do it effectively.
To say the past few days have been mentally challenging would be an understatement, but I cannot put into words how incredible it has been to see so much growth taking place in myself and my teammates in just a few days.
I find it intriguing that we all have a heart for service, members and agriculture, but we all have different thoughts on how that message should be shared, which is what makes us a team.
After a few weeks of training, my team and I will travel to Florida to practice our workshops and keynotes we will develop and then head to South Africa for almost two weeks before beginning to travel on our own.
This past month has been filled with a lot, but the biggest lesson I have learned is that valuing someone doesn’t mean always agreeing with them or even understanding them, but it’s all about identifying their strengths and attempting to understand their perspective because it could mean more to a person than one would think.
Gracie Murphy of Macomb, Illinois, is the National FFA eastern region vice president. She is a freshman in agricultural systems and education at Southern Illinois University.