You don’t have to have known me very long to know that I love Disney. I was born and raised on the box-office busting animated films of the late 80s and early 90s and have been to Disney World more times than you have fingers. We can say all we want about corporate greed and the waist size of princesses and consumerism and so on, but there’s one fact that remains true.
For anyone whose ever seen my dad and I together, it’s pretty easy to tell that we’re related. No, we don’t necessarily look alike (I can thank my mom for my stellar good looks 😛 ), but we have similar mannerisms, are interested in the same things and have rather mirrored personalities. I’m a daddy’s girl through and through and he’s rubbed off a little on me over the past 23 years, to say the least.
In honor of National Teach Ag Day, I wanted to share my vision of the power of agricultural educators. As the daughter of an ag teacher, I was practically born in a blue, corduroy FFA jacket and had Ag Sales CDE practicums memorized better than the high school kids when I was 10. To this day, it catches me off guard when someone has never heard of high school agricultural education, since I was raised with it from day 1 – my dad’s first year teaching was the year I was born.
Growing up in the classroom, it was really easy to see the impact a single teacher can make on so many students. When I was 5, I was at the meeting where my dad announced to his chapter officers that he would be leaving the school to take a new position. There were lots of tears and sadness — he had made such a difference in a few short years that these students obviously had formed a connection and did not want him to leave. In the years after we moved, I got to watch as he mentored students who went on to become USDA meat inspectors, agronomy researchers, 4-H leaders, and – like him – ag teachers. I also got to see his former students go on to become more important things, like husbands and wives, moms and dads, and friends. I like to think that, even though not solely responsible, ag teachers do play a role in developing youth so they can be the most successful in the latter roles.
I’m now a senior at Michigan State University and, like my dad, I am majoring in Agriscience Education. Next year, I will student teach with another great ag teacher and work to learn as much as I can about youth, education and agriculture. I’ll admit, I have my moments when I don’t know if being an agriculture teacher is the right career choice for me. Who knows, life may throw a curve ball my way and take me down another path. For the meantime, however, whenever I have one those ‘moments’ I think about my life with agricultural education and the difference ag teachers – including my dad – have made for me. It would be my greatest hope to make that difference for others.
There are a lot of exciting things that happened this past week at the 82nd National FFA Convention in Indianapolis. I dropped my first billioniare off at his private plane, I met some of the nicest people in the world, and had my life change in a small way (at least for the next year).
Alexandria Henry was named the 2009-2010 National FFA Eastern Region Vice President.
If you are an FFA member anywhere in the country that has not gotten to meet Alex before, I sincerely hope her travels bring her close to you in the upcoming months. There are very few people that have made the impact on my life that Alex has. I still remember the first time I met her: I was a senior in high school and she was a junior. We were at regional FFA leadership contests and I had come to the extemporaneous public speaking holding room to see my dad, who was chairing the contest. He pointed to the only student left in the room and said, “Have you met Alex? Her dad is an ag teacher, too.”. We muttered our greetings, I talked to my dad for a little bit and left. Little did I know, I had just met the president of my state officer team, my college roomate, my double date buddy, the girl who would let me crash at her house for an entire summer and, most importantly, one of my best friends.
As you may or may not know, Alex is special. She has a heart for not only FFA, but for all people in general. She is the type to leave sticky notes on your desk before you wake up to remind you to have a good day. She may not answer your phone call or text right away, but when she does you will talk for hours and the whole wait seems worth it. She is the one that, when her team is falling apart, becomes the glue to hold us together. The members of the National FFA Organization don’t quite realize how lucky they are about to be. Let me tell you, the members of Michigan FFA will tell you without even blinking an eye.
Over the next year, Alex will have the opportunity to travel from one coast to the other, go to Japan and back, and meet tons of amazing people along the way. She will get to experience this all alongside five other incredible people. Bethany, Chelsea, Levy, Randa, and Chase: you better take care of her for us. We are so happy to share Alex with the 507,000+ members of the National FFA Organization, but know that we will miss her dearly.
Congratulations, Alex, on accomplising your biggest dream yet. We love you!