Concerts and Connecting: Where does common ground come into play?

georgia ffa

A few weeks ago, I headed down south to the land of the pines for the 85th Georgia FFA State Convention. As a music lover, one of my favorite parts is always the convention concert on Friday night. I knew the band was undoubtedly talented, but there was a question I was waiting to be answered: Will they connect with the crowd?

The Farm answered that question quickly with a hand-clappin’, beach ball-bouncin’, beautifully harmonious yes! They played covers. No, not building a fort in the living room with all the sheets in the house, but they played familiar songs. The Farm could have played their entire new album to get exposure for songs few would know; they didn’t. Sure, they threw in a few of their original pieces, but they were amidst popular tunes like “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Ring of Fire.” They hit every style from Alabama to Michael Jackson. The night became less of a performance and more of a campfire sing along where everyone could be a part of the fun. The Farm knew that creating an enjoyable experience for their audience was more important than promoting their name, so they focused on the common ground.

Who will you connect with this summer? Find the common ground. It builds trust to explore and learn from the uncommon ground.

At camp…So what if she’s from the southern part of the state and you’re from the north? Maybe he grew up on a farm and you grew up in town. Focus on the experiences you can share over the next week. Does he play basketball? Start a game of 3-on-3 before supper. Is she already going to that leadership workshop? Tag along!

On the job…You didn’t choose them, but you’re punching the clock with them for at least a few months. Find a way to make it more fun for everyone. Is he competitive? Make a menial task a game. Does she love ice cream? Go celebrate with a scoop or two at the end of each week!

With the sibs…Even if you’re still finding his legos in your backpack or wake up to her rendition of the newest One Direction hit, you’re family. This is a special time we can pour into our brothers and sisters. Read a book together and talk about what you’re learning. Does he like to run? Hit the trail with him. Is she learning to play an instrument? Sit and listen to her latest piece.

As part of the team…The great part of teams is that we all bring something to the table. We all have different ideas of what our FFA chapters should do for the next year, but what do we have in common? Is everyone passionate about the agricultural awareness day you put together for elementary school students? Spend extra time take it to the next level. Looking for ways to increase attendance at FFA meetings? Focus on what FFA members enjoy. Consider adding fun recreation after business – maybe it’s a game of capture the flag or water games. Ask them!

In his book, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect,  John C. Maxwell says, “Connecting is the ability to identify with people and relate to them in a way that increases your influence with them.” The FFA Creed challenges us to “exert an influence in our home and community.” Let’s do it! Connect. Influence.

~Kalie Hall, National FFA

National FFA Officers visit Arkansas

The National FFA Officer team traveled nearly 1200 miles this week, all over Arkansas to kick off their year of service. They visited 85 chapters and more than 1500 students!

They also appeared on an Little Rock, Arkansas TV station to talk about their trip:

National Officer video

This afternoon, the officers will meet with the governor of Arkansas at the state capitol building.

New York FFA urges you to help fight hunger

In this eye-opening video, New York FFA officers, explain how people can become food insecure in the aftermath of disasters like Hurricane Sandy, challenge commonly-held beliefs about hunger, and tell you how you can help.


And, your Champions of Change honorees are…

On October 9, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Office of Public Engagement will welcome 4-H and FFA members and their mentors to the White House to recognize the exceptional ways they are impacting their communities.

The White House Champions of Change program highlights the stories and examples of citizens across the country who are “Winning the Future” with projects and initiatives that move their communities forward.  Each week, the Office of Public Engagement (OPE) hosts an event to honor those who are working to empower and inspire other members of their communities.

The recognition ceremony for FFA and 4-H members will be broadcast live at on October 9, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Eastern.

Read on to learn more about each FFA honoree…

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Telling Our Story

The rental van is parked in front of the FFA center. We just finished a morning of convention planning, and hurry out to hop in the van. Hitting the highway, we’re headed for a Rotary Club meeting in Carmel, Indiana. The building is beautiful, and the folks inside greet us with welcoming smiles.

The message we bring today describes the pillars FFA is centered around, personal growth, premier leadership, and career success. Alicia, Ken, and I each take our turns sharing stories with the audience and answering a few questions. Hopefully, the community leaders in the room will volunteer at national convention, or even rally support for an agricultural education program in Carmel. Afterwards, we’re presented a children’s book and asked to sign it. The book will be donated to the local library. We remain at the building for goodbyes and are the last to leave.  

Back in the van, we have a conversation about the importance of sharing our story. In order to Grow our influence and create opportunities for more students, the story of FFA needs to reach wider and further. What can you do to share the story of FFA in your area? How about your own story of the difference FFA has made in your life? In today’s world of information sharing and instant communication, we can share our story in a new and more effective way. Consider using Facebook, Twitter, or internet blogs to tell your story. FFA officers are in a great position to share their story. State officers should visit, to learn about the State Officer Challenge.

Tomorrow our officer team hits the road again to Missouri, Wisconsin, Texas, and South Carolina. We’ll be alongside local and state FFA members sharing the story of FFA with community members, students, and agricultural leaders. Share your FFA story with your community. Every single person in America relies on agriculture daily. They will listen, use your voice.


By Seth Pratt