As Christmas is fast approaching, Florida FFA has been staying very busy! Career Development Events (CDEs) have been in full swing with both Food Science and Environmental Science. I had the opportunity to attend the Environmental Science CDE in Live Oak on my way to prepare for the Middle School Conference. Among other things participants had to test water quality, answer environmental questions, and give oral presentations with their team. Orlando Colonial was extremely excited about taking first place in the Environmental Science CDE, and Okeechobee Brahman followed with a very close second place finish. After making that brief stop in Live Oak, we headed south to the FFA Leadership Training Center (LTC) for the Middle School and Advanced Leadership Development (ALD) conferences.
On Friday, November 11 about 70 very excited middle schoolers arrived to begin “The Quest for the Secret of Leadership.” I didn’t quite realize just how excited middle school students could be, but we had a blast! We spent the weekend searching for a secret treasure map, and also found time to learn the foundations of FFA and the basics of leadership. One highlight of the conference was the scavenger hunt to find the missing pieces of the treasure map. After finding all the pieces, we decoded the message which read “The Secret of Leadership Lies Within YOU!” We discovered the true secret of leadership is not power, intelligence, wealth, or prestige. Truly, the secret of leadership is YOU! Soon after wrapping up the Middle School Conference, Advanced Leadership Development (ALD) kicked off. The National FFA Organization sent Cole and Zac to present all six motivating sessions. Through Deal or No Deal, Wheel of Fortune, and various other game shows, we found that leadership happens through others and through service. I had a great time getting to learn with all the FFA members from New Smyrna Beach, Okeechobee, and Fort Pierce Westwood! While learning about service we also had fun re-enacting Bon Qui Qui and resolving some major issues with our pet gopher tortoise named Stanley/ brown paper bag! All in all, it was a fabulous weekend filled with great fun and inspiring leadership!
After the weekend wrapped up, it was time for a visit to the infamous New Smyrna Beach, Florida (which was quite possibly my favorite chapter program yet!). Trevor Williams, Austin Courson, and I felt so welcome in District 6 (insert secret hand sign). New Smyrna Beach officers James, Elise, Eric, Kaley, and Shelby treated us to a fantastic dinner. As if that wasn’t enough, they also fed us breakfast from “Bagel World” (apparently a NSB staple). After a fun-filled visit with Mrs. Harper and Ms. Tueton’s classes, we drove on the beach, IN A CAR! (I think that would be grounds for arrest in North Florida.) We concluded the day at New Smyrna Beach FFA’s annual Christmas party. I had an incredible time playing Ninja, Dirty Santa, and a game I like to call “The present is Alive”! Thanks again for our NSB paraphernalia and for making us feel so welcome!
Coming up next… Christmas! All my siblings are coming home, and I can’t wait to spend time with my wonderful family! Soon after, I am headed to Pasadena, California to walk in the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day. RFD-TV sponsored an FFA float this year which the National Officers will be riding on with the State President’s walking alongside it. Be sure to tune in to RFD-TV or NBC on January 1st and I will wave at you! From there, I am headed to China for the International Leadership Seminar for State Officers (ILSSO). I will be keeping all of you updated on my travels to both California and China. I look forward to sharing my experiences with you. For now have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and as always… continue keeping Florida FFA “In Motion”!